The Mavs came down with illnesses nasty enough to keep Dirk Nowitzki and Rick Carlisle from showing…
Mavs Top Bobcats: Locker-Room Video Visits
DONUT 1: Mavs 89, Bobcats 82 ...
The Mavericks came into Tuesday's game with a home record of 8-2 so they had good reason to be confident they could get back on track in front of the American Airlines Center crowd.
That home court success is especially noteworthy against the Charlotte Bobcats. In fact, the Bobcats have never won a game in Dallas since their franchise has existed. Tuesday's victory put the Mavericks at 10-0 in home games against Charlotte.
The Mavericks are also 17-1 against the Bobcats all time, which is the best record that any NBA team has against any other NBA team.
And yet ...
"We're lucky to survive it,'' conceded Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, and we've got his Video Visit here:
DONUT 2: Not the Same Ol' Bobcats ...
While those records are certainly impressive, most of those victories came against Bobcat teams that consistently finished near the bottom of the standings every year.
However, this year's version of the Bobcats is far from a laughing stock. They have flown under the radar this season with a roster that doesn't exactly turn heads, but they have been very competitive all season under first-year head coach Steve Clifford.
Carlisle said that coming into last year Clifford was a potential candidate for the assistant job that was eventually filled by Jim O'Brien. Carlisle said that had O'Brien not accepted the job, the Dallas coach would have "pushed hard" for Clifford, who last year was on the Lakers staff.
Clifford has had the young Bobcats playing hard each night. Before heading to Dallas, Charlotte pushed the defending champion Miami Heat to the limit, eventually losing 99-98.
Check out Shawn Marion's respectful view of the foe:
And yet having said all those flattering things about the Bobcats ... this hardly qualifies as a "quality win.'' ... but rather one rescued by two quality scorers.
DONUT 3: Who Deserves "The Dirkie''? ...
Who Deserves "The Dirkie'' for Player of the Game in the win? It's a golden tradition as Mavs fans vote here!
DONUT 4: The reliance on The Uberman ...
Dirk Nowitzki has done so much for the Mavericks. He has scored enough points to be 14th on the all-time scoring list. He's won an MVP and a Finals MVP. He has played 15 seasons. He's 35 years old. He will someday be immortalized in bronze doing The One-Legged Euro LeanBack.
Has he earned the right to have a bad night?
Does that mean the Mavericks can afford a bad night from him? No way.
Monta Ellis has been a great addition, especially on the offensive end, but make no mistake, the team's infrastructure remains founded upon Nowitzki's ability to make shots. Does this roster have players to complement his skillset and take some pressure off of him? Sure. However, when Dirk is playing poorly, the Mavericks have to face the reality that the team is not much better than a team like the Bobcats.
They almost learned that the hard way here while Nowitzki had only four points halfway through the third quarter. At that juncture the Mavericks trailed Charlotte by as many as 11 points. Nowitzki shot 1-of-10 from the floor in the first half.
In the second half he woke up. Or maybe just started "bending his knees,'' as he said. Dirk shot 9-of-11 in the second half.
The Uberman finished the game with 25 points off of 10-of-21 shooting. That offensive surge was just enough for the Mavericks to squeeze out a win at home against a below .500 team.
"I guess routine and experience plays a big factor," said Nowitzki. "Maybe 12 or 13 years ago, I couldn't correct myself in a game like that. When you've done it so many times, you try some stuff. Sometimes, it works, sometimes it doesn't, but this time it worked well."
It's easy for Mavs fans to say we can't demand too much of Nowitzki, but the truth is that he's spoiled us ... and followers have to demand quite a bit from him. ... if they want to win. That's simply a product of the way this roster is constructed.
Fortunately, it's also a result of the wonderful way Dirk is constructed.
DONUT 5: The Return of Jose ...
Averaging 11.1 points and 4.9 assists per game, Jose Calderon's numbers might not stand out, but over the last two-and-a-half games it has been clear that he is a vital part of the Mavericks offense. Dallas was forced to play rookies Shane Larkin and Gal Mekel almost exclusively at point guard. The lack of experience, control and playmaking ability has been apparent during this mini-stretch.
Calderon made his return from an ankle injury in this one and he provided something more than distributing: a three-point threat. Calderon hit a quartet of long shots keeping the Mavericks in the game while the rest of the team was cold.
Calderon finished the game with 12 points and shot 4-of-5 from behind the arc. While Carlisle is saying there is no residual problem from Jose having played on the bruised ankle, it did look like Calderon left the floor at game's end in at least slight discomfort.
Calderon's thoughts? His Video Visit:
DONUT 6: Points in the Paint ...
It's a little too broad to say that defense has been the Mavericks' biggest problem this season. More specifically, points in the paint have been the problem.
The Mavericks are letting opposing guards get into the paint too easily and they're allowing big men to finish in the paint almost just as easily. In other words, the Mavericks are making it easy on opposing offenses.
It will continue to be a concern moving forward as Dallas gave up 38 points in the paint to the Bobcats compared to the 30 points the Mavs scored in the painted area.
It does help a great deal that somebody does something in the paint for Dallas, so props to Shawn Marion for his 10 rebounds and to DeJuan Blair and to Vince Carter for their seven each.
DONUT 7: Good start and a good finish? ...
What was Carlisle's assessment immediately after the game again?
"Our first and fourth quarters were very solid,'' Rick said. "Our second and third quarters were very poor."
We weren't that impressed with the start. But if you want to juggle with numbers, you can argue that tthe Mavericks outscored the Bobcats 51-33 in the first and last quarters combined. ...
And that they were outscored 49-39 in the middle quarters. So by comparison, yeah, super.
You could argue that if you're going to pick two quarters to perform well then the first and fourth are the best ones to pick, but it's worth asking, when was the last time the Mavericks played four full quarters of above-average basketball?
DONUT 8: Stat O The Night ...
*Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis: 34 points and six assists
*Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson: 31 points and five assists
In their previous game against the Heat on Sunday, Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson combined for 44 points and 10 assists. In comparison, Lebron James and Dwyane Wade in that game combined for 43 points and eight assists.
Walker and Henderson both play extremely hard and they make opposing perimeter defenders exert a ton of energy, not only by having to guard them, but because they are so active on defense. Tuesday night was no different. The two made veterans Calderon and Ellis work up a sweat, but the Dallas guards persevered and executed enough to secure the victory.
DONUT 9: Mekel's honor...
Tuesday was Jewish Heritage Night at the AAC and was the eighth day of Hannukah. Rookie Gal Mekel, who is from Israel, is one of only two Jewish players in the NBA along with Omri Casspi, and before the game he met with hundreds of fans to speak, sign autographs and discuss his path to the NBA.
Mekel didn't enter the game the first three quarters but fellow rookie Larkin struggled as the backup point guard. Carlisle gave Mekel a shot to start the fourth quarter. I suppose we could call him "almost steady'' in his time as the seesaw between the two kids continues. Carlisle did trust Gal to play a full six minutes of the fourth quarter of a close game.
So, advantage Gal, for one night.
DONUT 10: Slump-buster? ...
A win is a win and Tuesday night's victory was much needed.
However, the performance was hardly enough to claim that the Mavericks are out of the slump they found themselves in. They shot only 40 percent from the field and 38 percent from three-point range.
If anything, the inexperienced Bobcats were unable to perform at a high level for all four quarters. (We cover the angle of Dallas' having won this game on the strength of one good quarter here in "First Impressions.'') The Mavs were lucky to catch a young Bobcats team and now may be lucky to have that followed up with an Anthony Davis-less Pelicans squad tonight. (We've got that game tonight on Fox Sports Southwest with Fish joining Bob Ortegel and Dana Larson on the pregame show at 6:30.)
DONUT 11: Mavs DB.com Podcast ...
Tuesday's win over the Bobcats notwithstanding, the he Dallas Mavericks didn't exactly roll into this post-Thanksgiving week.
They are losing leads against solid opponents, losing games against inferior opponents, suffering from injury absences and causing our own Mike Marshall to work hard at casting Vince Carter as the titular character in "Weekend At Bernie's 3.''
Vince's struggles are an issue we write about here with the help of Mark Followill. Keeping it all together -- thanks to the leadership of Dirk and Marion -- is covered here.
And talking about it in a semi-NSFW manner? We do that on the DB.com Mavs Podcast here on iTunes and up and running below as well ... with a very special cast of characters that includes Marshall, Mike Fisher and Kevin Turner.
Pull up a chair to the hoops roundtable and let's kick it around ...
The DallasBasketball.com Mavs Podcast, y'all!
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
It wasn't just Dirk scoring down the stretch. He totaled 25 and Monta totaled 22 as the pair combined for the final 19 Mavs points -- compared to just five points for the Bobcats during the same final stretch.
"We picked each other up,'' Monta said.