DONUT 1: Let's talk about sex, baby ...
Before Monday night’s preseason visit from the Hornets, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle was asked about his team's mounting turnover count and the maddeningly “creative’’ ways Dallas had found to cough up the ball – at 19 giveaways per game.
“We're doing it every way you can do it,'' Carlisle deadpanned. "If we were a sex manual, it'd be a best-seller.''
But once the game started, the Mavs went G-rated in the turnover department, committing just 10 in an 87-74 win over New Orleans at the AAC.
DONUT 2: Something old, something new ...
O.J. Mayo scored 13 points, Roddy Beaubois looked recovered from an ankle injury by scoring 12, and rookie Jae Crowder continued to earn rave reviews by scoring 12 as well while striding into the starting lineup to fill the vacancy left by Dirk Nowitzki’s absence.
“He is going to play the same way no matter what,’’ Carlisle said in praising Crowder. “He will play the same way whether he is starting or playing 30 seconds or one possession. That’s one of the things we love about him. He’s a winning kind of player. He is into the game and affects it in a lot of positive ways. He made two plays when the game started to get a little close. He laid the ball in a couple of times and those were big plays.”
Nowitzki, of course, underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last week and is expected to miss a month or so. That remains the largest and most ominous Mavericks storyline in this 3-3 preseason; we’re seeing Crowder starting. We’re seeing Vince Carter (11 points here and a 2-guard by trade) playing some 4. We’re seeing Elton Brand, who was acquired to be the backup at the 4 and 5, have to work as the starting center because another veteran newcomer, Chris Kaman, is sidelined along with Dirk with a leg injury.
DONUT 3: What's predictable ...
In the short term, all of that makes it predictable that Dallas is going to struggle on the boards, which it did. Shawn Marion grabbed 12, but in total, the Mavs were outboarded 62-40. Top overall pick Anthony Davis led the way for New Orleans with 17 rebounds. (Marion’s defensive work on Davis represents a Mavs victory, however.)
“Was it really (62-30)?’’ Marion asked afterwards. Man, they slaughtered us on the boards. They’re big….You’re going to have to give up something. I guess we chose to give up that. Oooh.”
The idea of "having to give up something'' is one we'll return to below. Read on ...
DONUT 4: Leaks, pace and more Dirk ...
But the Mavs did repair the turnover leak while also determining pace here. Dallas sprinted to a 13-2 lead and settled in with a 25-10 edge at the end of the first quarter. That’s the sort of stat advantage the Mavs will have to seek in the absence of Nowitzki, who throughout his career has developed an Ironman-like, UberMan-esque reputation for fighting through injuries and healing amazingly quickly from endless amounts of ankle sprains and various other ailments.
The amount of games Dirk has missed throughout his career is staggeringly low. Over his career, Nowitzki has only missed 46 total games over his 14-year career. That’s right behind his former teammate Jason Terry and veteran guard Andre Miller in the NBA-wide category of fewest missed games for 10-year-plus veterans.
That being said, this is knee surgery for Nowitzki. This is something he’s never endured before, and despite his confidence in a quick return (he told us nine days ago that a three-week recovery was not out of the question, even as the club plans for a six-week wait), at 34 his health track record is trending downward.
We can refer to his absurdly low number of missed games throughout his career, but that overall low numbers hides that fact that 13 of his missed games have come in just the past two seasons.
We'll have more thoughts collected from inside the AAC on Dirk as IronMan/UberMan later today. Stay tuned.
DONUT 5: DB.com Mavs Get-Together is Tuesday, Oct. 30! ...
We're all going to hang out at Red Rock Bar & Grill at Frankford and Midway (just off the Tollway and also just off George Bush) on Tuesday night for the Mavs-at-Lakers opener. We'll have drink specials and we're giving away prizes that include lower-bowl seats to a future Mavs game. C'mon by and meet The Fish and talk a little Mavs basketball with DB.com and The 75-Member Staff!
DONUT 6: The Brand burden ...
"It's fun,'' Elton Brand said of the challenges presented him.
Well, that's one word for it.
“It changes a lot,'' Brand said. "I was expecting to spell Dirk and come in for Kaman. We would have a 7-footer out there, one who could shoot and another that could post up. Now I’m with a bunch of wings, but we’re going to find a way to do it. We’re going to find a way to hold the fort down. It’s fun.”
DONUT 7: Kaman update ...
Chris Kaman (calf) doesn't want to make any promises -- and his injury history suggests that's a solid idea. But he is expressing some optimism said he’s moderately optimistic about his availability for the Mavericks’ season opener on Oct. 30 in LA against the Lakers.
“I’m pretty sure I’ll be good to go,’’ Kaman said. “That’s a long time from now. It gives me over a week and I’m progressing pretty good, so I don’t really see that as a problem. But I can’t guarantee that.''
He's just being honest. Painfully honest.
DONUT 8: Back-to-back dreams ...
A couple of days ago in Atlanta, our buddies Sneed and Price visited with DeShawn Stevenson, now with the Hawks after having reached the peak with Dallas' 2011 title team. Predictably, guess what he thinks the organization should've done to follow up?
“I think we could have been in the Finals again,’’ said Stevenson. “But you know it’s a business. And with that lockout hurting a lot of people, they had to break it up. ... Last year I think a lot of people ... I wouldn’t say 'were mad,' but they kind of wanted the team back.''
Uh, yeah. A lot of people wanted that team to return intact. And a lot of Mavs fans here at DB.com remain "mad.''
DONUT 9: Good for him ....
One big point on D-Steve: Good for him, in thinking that way. Good for him in believing that he should've been re-signed and would've come back and been so outstanding on the floor in helping Dallas compete at the very highest level that it would've justified paying him that way.
And by the way: As time marches on and Dallas goes without a "big fish'' to take the baton from Dirk ... the decision to not go "all-in'' with that championship bunch continues to merit second-guessing.
DONUT 10: The best way to catch up on the weekend in Mavs news ...
Did you miss something? Click into DB.com Mavs Archives and get caught up!
DONUT 11: Savoring greatness ...
But here's what I like best about DeShawn's approach: More than being haunted by regret, he savors the positives.
"That organization over there does things great, so I think they‘ll get some key faces,'' Stevenson said, adding, “There’s no hard feelings. I still love everything about the Mavericks and Dallas.’’
I'm afraid, though, that even when Dirk comes back, that what was lost, or what was undone, will be a recurring theme. And my evidence isn't anything you've said to me about not re-signing TY or whatever; it happened in my own head, as soon as we heard Trix say, "You’re going to have to give up something. I guess we chose to give up that. Oooh.”
He was talking about succeeding in another category while losing rebounds to New Orleans. But echoing in my head ... "I guess we chose to give up something. Oooh'' ... was that other "give-up choice,'' if you get my drift.
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
CBA-fueled moves. I got to get it out of my head. Dirk and his absent weeks? That’s the ominous number the Mavs can do nothing to control, either.
The turnover number? That is controllable and here, Dallas did just the right thing: Be self-effacing about it before the game and fix it during the game.