DONUT 1: Spectacularly entertaining ...
Wednesday night, the 2012-13 season opened for the Dallas Mavericks, hosting the Atlanta Hawks, and a new journey began … doing so in spectacularly entertaining fashion, with a 118-109 victory.
It was, as Dirk says, "a good step.''
There were obvious warts – turnovers and defense, for example – and there were displays of offensive fluidity missed a season ago. But there is no doubt: Whether or not this return to offensive grace translates into more wins remains to be seen, but already promises a much more appealing brand of basketball.
How do you win a game in which you turn the ball over 20 times, leading directly to 26 points for your opponent, while also allowing your opponent to hit 48.7 percent of their shots?
Well, you hit 57.1 percent of your own attempts, including 64.9 percent in the second half … as Dallas did in their opener.
Oh, and beyond the well-publicized Monta numbers, you look deeper. And you see: Ellis/Dirk played 23 minutes together, and in that time had a 122.1 Offensive Rating, an 81.6 Defensive Rating, shot 57.1 percent and was +24 (the team's best two-man plus/minus).
Here's our game coverage in Donuts, and our All-Access Practice report as well. Those two links provide Mavs fans with the finest information available on inside practice, inside the game, inside the team.
Now, how do you do it all again tonight against a Rockets team that is also 1-0?
DONUT 2: Where the Rockets were ...
Fresh off a blockbuster trade bringing James Harden to town, the Houston Rockets were able to ride his newfound role of being “the man” to their first playoff appearance since 2009. With the emergence of Omer Asik and Chandler Parsons, pressure was taken off of Jeremy Lin to live up to the three-year, $25-million deal he signed going into last season. With this young and talented nucleus, the Rockets excelled in an up-tempo offense that led them to a 45-37 record.
Houston finished second in the entire league in points per game at 106, and more than made up for any deficiencies encountered on the defensive end. Their record was good for third in the Southwest Division, and a respectable 8 seed in a conference annually stacked with quality teams from top to bottom. Despite their first-round exit to Oklahoma City in six games, the season was ultimately a success and provided more than enough reason for optimism moving forward.
DONUT 3: The Finest Dentists in North Texas! ...
Rockets coach Kevin McHale called watching his team's offense in the 96-83 win over the Bobcats "like a trip to the dentist.'' Coach McHale must not know McKinneyDentist.com, where Dr. Berlin, Dr. Markham, Dr. Lynch and Dr. Wood have been providing the finest in everything from technology to chair-side manner for years. Give 'em a click, please!
DONUT 4: Where the Rockets are now ..
As if a big enough splash wasn’t already made with the addition of James Harden, Houston decided that “one-upping” itself was clearly the way to go, signing the most dominant (and yet maligned) center in the game today: Dwight Howard. After a bad Lakers marriage that littered the front page of newspapers across America for much of last season, Dwight decided it was best to leave the bright lights of LA for a fresh start in the humidity of Houston. Despite the cap hit, the pairing of Howard and Harden creates matchup nightmares that most teams in the West currently care not to think about. With Harden (24), and Howard (27), this Rockets duo is primed to create headaches not only this season, but for many to come.
Chandler Parsons, who’s entering his third season and helped recruit Howard this offseason, has really come into his own. He’s looking to build on the 15.5 points per game he averaged last season, while shooting over 38 percent beyond the arc.
As a somewhat dubious defensive anchor of the team last season, Omer Asik’s job got a lot easier when Howard showed up. Asik is highly-coveted throughout the league, and proved his worth last season averaging 10.7 point per game, along with 11.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. As long as Howard and Asik are manning the post, the Rockets have a luxury that few other teams can compete with.
After being dubbed “Linsanity” and carrying the weight of the world under the New York spotlight, Jeremy Lin is quietly coming off a solid season averaging 13.4 point per game and and over 6 assists in the much more reserved Houston landscape. Lin regains the starting job now that Patrick Beverley has a tear in a muscle in his midsection and will rehab for 10-14 days.
With youth and immense talent on their side, Houston will be making a bid to finish near the top of the Western Conference.
DONUT 5: Follow the Mavs on Twitter ...
Follow our Mavs coverage on Twitter, where our live coverage of the season will unfold all day and every day! Mike Fisher, Chuck Perry , David Lord and
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DONUT 6: Join the club! ...
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Meanwhile, DallasBasketball.com has put the finishing touches on our exclusive Player-by-Player Scouting Reports -- projections and plans and upsides and pitfalls -- constructed with guidance from president Donnie Nelson, coach Rick Carlisle and elsewhere inside the Dallas Mavericks personnel department itself. It’s 15 Mavs and 15 reports – Premium-grade information from inside the AAC. It's ready for Premium Mavs fans just in time for the start of the regular season.
Folks, we're launching our 14th year of Mavs coverage and as we continue to strive for your approval (and your dime a day!) we are so proud to be on this ride with you. ... in the practices, the games, the locker rooms ... with stats, interviews, analysis, videos ...
Thank you, DB.com Mavs fans!
DONUT 7: See you at Dee Lincoln's ...
Thanks to Dee and the incredible staff at Dee Lincoln Steak and Burger Bar for making their place the wonderful "upscale casual'' place to dine before you attend events in Dallas ... The gang from DB.com looks forward to seeing you there!
DONUT 8: The Rockets' reliable ...
That would be James Harden.
After leaving Oklahoma City, many questioned if he had what it takes to carry a team on his own. He played the third wheel in OKC, benefitting from facing defenses with the deflating task of slowing down not only Russell Westbrook, but the leading scorer in the NBA, Kevin Durant. As good as Harden was off the dribble, the case could be made that the looks he got playing alongside two superstars were just as credit-worthy as his immense talent seemed to be.
Last season served as duct tape for the mouths of any doubters who were brave or naïve enough to question his resolve. Averaging 25.9 point per game, 5.8 assists and 4.9 rebounds, Harden quickly went to work at proving he was every bit the superstar Houston had hoped for. Carrying the load in the manner he did, Harden became the poster guy of reliability. At the ripe old age of 24, his maturity and influence both on and off the court should only continue to rise.
DONUT 9: Mr. 'Liable'? ...
If Harden is their "Mr. Reliable," does that make Dwight the NBA's "Mr. Liable"?
Dwight Howard. Was there ever really a question here? When a team is willing to give up the farm for a guy (by way of over
It’s safe to say the Houston season will sink or swim based on his production. After a failed experiment in Laker Land, the Rockets are hoping to avoid some of the drama and chemistry problems that doomed their awkward arrangement from the start. Whether it was Kobe, the offense, the coach or his teammates, Dwight eventually made one thing VERY clear: it wasn’t gonna work.
Houston hopes a change of scenery and a well-respected coach with skins on the wall like Kevin McHale can cover any blemishes that might lead to breakouts down the road. There’s no question that a focused Dwight Howard is the best center in the game today. At his best, it’s frankly not even that close. On a DOWN year last season, Howard posted 17.1 points per game, 12.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. If fully engaged and rejuvenated, he could return to the form that led the Orlando Magic all the way to the NBA Finals.
He’s a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, four-time All-NBA Defense First-Team and five-time All-NBA First-Team. If this is the Dwight the Houston Rockets are getting, the only thing that could possibly slow him is Dwight himself. Or maybe a free throw. All in all, Howard’s presence and attitude will take this team as far as it can go.
DONUT 10: So, what does Dallas do? ...
It's a 7 p.m. start in Houston tonight and finding a way to survive on the boards will be a start. The Mavs won the rebounding battle over the burly Hawks, 42-33. In that effort, DeJuan Blair came off the bench to serve as a 6-6 center and had as many offensive rebounds (five) as the entire Hawks team.
Here's Rick on Blair and more:
There are obvious fixes and solutions that will make Dallas competitive here. But something "not-so-obvious'' needs to occur for the Mavs to win. That something can come with the Dalembert/Blair combo inside.
The Mavs also believe that while Howard and Asik are obviously studs, at some point in there Houston has to figure out how a big covers Dirk.
"When you're bigger, you're not quicker,'' as Shawn Marion says, in what serves as his six-word explanation of Dallas' offensive gameplan here.
DONUT 11: A Houston forecast ...
With two top-12 players and a quality team around them, anything short of the Western Conference Finals could be deemed disappointing for this squad. Look for them to finish in the top three in the West and make a serious run at their first NBA championship in nearly 20 years.
The Mavs know this, and Carlisle concedes as much when he says, "Houston’s going to be a different animal. Atlanta’s a very active team. But they don’t have the same kind of length as Houston. It’s going to be a heightened challenge.”
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
Before the fellas boarded the Houston-bound plane on Thursday, in a small media cluster, Mavs owner Mark Cuban took a big swing at humor.
And at hyping up Mavs-vs.-Houston.
“Obviously, (Dwight Howard) made a mistake in judgment,” Cuban said. “Do I blame him? No, that’s what young kids do. They make mistakes in judgment.”
Cuban was grinning that familiar Cuban grin when he said this. No matter, though; national media types have already misunderstood the line and roasted him for his "billionaire petulance.''
He was more serious when discussing his position that Howard should have chosen a franchise rather than a roster. We've discussed that concept dating all the way back to the Deron pursuit, and it doesn't matter if Cuban thinks this as long as the "young kids'' he is recruiting think differently.
The owner offered to the media group his serious view about "the right organization'' before once again falling back on one of his old-standby lines in attempting to combine hype and humor.
"Like I say about every other team, I hope they suck,'' he said. "I say that every year. It’s nothing personal. I still like Dwight as a person. But I still want the Rockets, like every other team, to have a horrible season. It’s nothing personal. I just want them to suck.”