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Thursday Mavs Donuts: Shackled Legs
DONUT 1: No cup o' joe ...
A night after digging deep for an improbable win against the Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks fell flat after halftime in Utah.
They would settle for a 113-94 loss to the Utah Jazz, playing their first game of the season.
The Jazz were led by Mo and Marvin Williams, who each scored 21 points. Utah also benefited from double-doubles from Paul Milsap (13 points, 15 rebounds) and Al Jefferson (12 points, 14 rebounds). Utah dominated Dallas on the boards 61 – 40, including a 20-8 edge on the offensive glass.
So what happened after halftime? The fellas could've used a cup 'o joe and maybe you can't get a caffeine jolt in Utah?
DONUT 2: To intermission ...
The Mavs used an 11-2 run to end the second half, and that allowed them to take a 63-55 intermission lead at the half. But in the third, Dallas managed to score just 13 points.
"We didn't play that great in the first half,'' Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "That scoring run at the end was some timely shot-making and we were able to string a few stops together.''
DONUT 3: Sludge in your engine ...
Dallas shot 62.5 percent from the arc in the first half, making 10 3's. But second-half sludge was in evidence as the game wore on. The Mavs were in the 20-percent shooting range for the second half and managed just nine field goals. They were doomed by a 13-point third quarter but they were also doomed by the fact that a team that in the first half couldn't miss a 3 in the second half couldn't make shots from three feet.
DONUT 4: The statues ...
On the subject of "energy,'' Rick said, "Theirs was better than ours. Without looking at the film, I believe that to be a fair statement.''
We're not too bothered by Brand's statuesque work; he's 34. We're somewhat bothered by Eddy Curry's; he played three minutes in the first half, did nothing, and was replaced on the pecking order by rookie Bernard James in the second half, "Sarge'' getting his first NBA minutes. (The bigs' work was salvaged somewhat by Brandan Wright, rewarding coach for a second straight start with 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting.)
But we are troubled by losing the "energy'' battle so badly when the Mavs have billed themselves as "scrappers.'' If a starting unit of the springly Wright, the marvelously conditioned Marion, the tough kid Crowder and the fresh backcourt of Collison and Mayo get out-energied ... what else is there?
Darren Collison's numbers were there; he scored 17 points and pitched in a game-high seven assists. (He scores 19 points per career against Utah, his fave foe.) O.J. Mayo scored 12 points, but mostly what he did in Utah is exhibit some odd body language that bears watching.
And while we're on the subject of body language and the subtleties of human behavior: Goodness, Vince Carter, you'd be a much better leader if you'd quit giggling through the final 10 minutes of a blowout loss, OK?
DONUT 5: Circumstances...
We're allowing ourselves, for the moment, to forget other anti-Mavs circumstances.
Minus Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman, Dallas seems to lack both the firepower and interior talent necessary to compete consistently with teams with powerful and active frontcourts like those of the Lakers and Jazz. Tuesday night they got away with it due to superior effort and cohesion. In G2, they were lacking in the former.
But reinforcements are coming -- hopefully this weekend in the form of Kaman.
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DONUT 7: Got it out? ...
Now that we've spit all our venom ...
A 1-1 split of back-to-back set against two playoff teams without Nowitzki counts as a mission accomplished for Dallas. You don't want to concede that in the middle (no you don't, Vince, so quit giggling!) but you can comfort yourself with that notion today, a Mavericks day off.
Friday will likely be a come-to-Jesus practice, but this period essentially amounts to two days of rest between now and their Saturday home-opener against Charlotte.
"We've got a long ways to go to be the kind of basketball team we want to be.''
And it's true. But Charlotte, Portland and Toronto are rolling into the AAC in the next week. Bring some energy and the Mavs-without-Dirk record skyrockets.
DONUT 8: Follow Fish and the Mavs on Twitter ...
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DONUT 9: Unhappy Halloween ...
Coming in, the Mavs were an NBA-best 8-1 on Halloween. Sad to see them fill their candy bag with razor-blade-in-apple treats, eh?
DONUT 10: The end of MavsWorld as we know it? ...
Not being 2-0 isn't the end of MavsWorld. But once we discovered that there was a sort of Mavs history to be made/repeated by doing so ... well, falling short stings all the more.
Dallas hasn't started 2-0 in a season in eight years. (Weird, right, as good as they've been?) Dallas hasn't started 2-0 on the road in 10 years -- but that time the Mavs did do that, it became a 14-0 start to the season.
That sort of thing builds buzz, momentum and confidence ... and we're sorry to have missed that potential ride.
DONUT 11: David Lord's pregame check list ...
D-Lord scribbled out some pregame notes:
I see Mavs-at-Utah as a "trap game" in several ways.
* Utah's a team that was a low seed playoff team last year. Not a cinch win at all, even though it is going to feel like it should be easy after playing LA.
* The excitement of 1-0 can rollercoaster with a loss in Utah and a return home at 1-1, feeling like we gave back the positive that was earned in LA.
* But making the mountain steeper is that the exhilaration of beating LA will make a team want to relax mentally.
* Playing in Utah is always hard anyhow. Refs love to support the home team there, and it's been that way for years.
* Playing on a West-to-East B2B is always the hardest kind because it shortens the rest.
* It's also a trap for Mav fans. Having beaten LA, this game evolves from "hope we can compete" to "we can definitely win this game, and it's a letdown if we don't."
* But they have the much younger legs and aggressive game that MIGHT have a chance to do well on the back end of a tough B2B. Can Uncle Ricky keep them focused and can they steal a win?
Beating LA was a great high. But this Utah game tonight will be one of those games that tells us more about what this team might be able to do this season.
And the takeaway for us? What happened in LA and then in Utah TOTALLY tells us about this team. ... It's 1-1 without Dirk ... and it would struggle to stay anywhere near .500 if without Dirk beyond Thanksgiving.
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
"They imposed their will on us,'' said Collison, and it truly was a troubling tag-team: The Jazz of Utah and the shackles of circumstance.