DONUT 1: Mavs 87, Wiz 78 ...
That's another Dallas Mavericks win. And once again, defense was the foundation of it.
This is a three-game road sweep at Chicago, Minny and now Washington as on New Year's Day your Mavs beat the Wizards for the eighth straight time, this time by an "ugly'' 87-78 score.
''It was an ugly game,'' Dirk Nowitzki said.
"It was a beautiful game,'' Rick Carlisle said.
But Rick was laughing when he said it.
DONUT 2: D in Dallas ...
The 87 points scored by the Mavs is a season-low in points, and shooting 38.5 percent on the road is not exactly a historical formula for success.
But what if you hold Washington scoreless for a four-minute span late in the game? What if your shooting problems are exceeded by the shooting problems you cause the Wiz by limiting them to 37.5 percent?
And heck, what if you do that sort of thing in three straight roadies?
Defense? Dallas? Again and again and again? On this sweep of a road trip, the Mavs held opponents (Chicago, Minnesota, Washington) to 23 points or fewer in 10 of the 12 quarters. During this time, they've allowed foes an average of just 86.3 points per, as our man Mark Followill notes, the best three-game stretch of the Mavs' season.
''It was such a competitive game,'' Carlisle said, "whoever won was going to be the survivor.''
Dallas survived. On defense.
DONUT 3: Down in the well ...
Dallas' second quarter in Washington was akin to falling down a well. I threw the rock down there, waiting for the echo to gauge the depth.
It was only a three-point deficit at halftime. But the echo seemed deeper than that to me.
Dallas missed 12 of its final 13 shots in the quarter. Dallas shot 6-of-22 overall in the quarter. The trio of and getting Jose, Vince and Dirk combined for 1-of-13 in the quarter.
The well was deep.
Dallas climbed out with some primal screaming, some fingernail-into-dirt digging, and by throwing itself a rescue rope.
Maybe also involved in the recovery? The overcoming of "Those Holiday-Roadie, Weird-Start-Time, Self-Satisfied-With-The-Trip, Getaway-Day Hangover Blues.''
It's a Willie Nelson song, I believe.
DONUT 4: Who deserves 'The Dirkie'? ...
Monta Ellis scored 23 points to help the otherwise-struggling Dallas offense in D.C. In fact, Carlisle said this was Ellis' best overall floor game as a Mav.
So, is this an easy call for you, the voter?
Who Deserves "The Dirkie''? Make that selection here!
DONUT 5: The Wheel of Fortune ...
Our man David Lord has for years kicked around the idea of changing the NBA lottery system in a way that is now reflected in something the NBA world at-large is now kicking around. How would a "Wheel of Fortune'' change the NBA landscape? Is it a fix for tanking? Is it inequitable?
Oh, and one more thing: Is the reason it's floating nearer the surface of the idea pool because the two NY-based teams could benefit from a change in NBA system?
DONUT 6: Bully Boys ...
Dallas does not have a reputation as a bunch of brawling bullies, as you know. But they got a little dirty at the end of the win in Minnesota, as we discussed that night. At to their credit, the ffanchise once derided as being made up of "Soft White Boyz'' got hard again.
Middle of the fourth quarter. Five straight possessions. Five consecutive stand-up-for-yourself moves:
*Dirk dishes an assist to Wright, gets nudged by Nene ... and then shoves Nene back.
*Nene retaliates with a nasty dunk right away.
*"Oh yeah"'' says Dirk who immediately puts a jumper back in the Wiz' face.
*Next trip down, a wrestling match ensues with Nene, and it's Vince in the middle of it. Vince draws the foul as he tangles with the big man.
*Next trip, Crowder takes a weakside feed and barrels inside, initiating contact and drawing foul, getting to make two FTs.
This wasn't a street fight. But it was a "court fight.'' And in the middle of the fourth quarter, just before they persuaded the Wiz to quit scoring, the so-called "soft'' Mavs went hard at the home team.
And the visiting "bullies'' won.
DONUT 7: Unselfishness ...
When the Mavs as a team have 23 assists or more, Dallas is now 14-4.
Look back to that Minnesota game for a typical example of this. Monta Ellis didn't shoot well. Yet he had 10 assists for the fifth time this season. Dallas is now 9-2 when Monta as at least seven assists … and if all that seems like a lot, it's because last season, a Mavs player reached 10 assists only four times total: three by Darren Collison and one by O.J. Mayo.
That team wanted to be unselfish; I really believe that. But it wasn't good enough to be. This year's mavs are unselfish -- and even a guy once assumed to be selfish is showing the Mavs how to share.
DONUT 8: Trix' bang ...
A quick Shawn Marion observation as we open up another New Year for him with a bang in that road trip. (And no, by "bang'' I don't mean the sound the NBA believes was heard when he stopped Kevin Love at the buzzer in Minny):
It's almost as if running a play for The Matrix would get in the way of his free-form/mop-up/creative-hustle scores. Structure is good, but it can be stifling. Shawn Marion is a jam session, is free-flowing, has few restrictions, and as a result brings to the Mavs unbridled go-for-itness.
DONUT 9: Oh, those steaks and burgers!
Thanks to Dee and the incredible staff at Dee Lincoln Steak and Burger Bar for our incredible Mavs pregame dinners ... the legendary DFW restaurateur has done it again.
Dee Lincoln Steak and Burger Bar is becoming THE "upscale casual'' place to dine before you attend events in Dallas ... And the gang from DB.com looks forward to seeing you there this week!
DONUT 10: Quoteboard ...
"I was an expensive decoy.'' - Dirk Nowitzki, who rolled his ankle in the first minute in Washington and finished with nine points.
DONUT 11: Want three more? ...
This is the franchise's first 3-0 road sweep since March 2011. Dallas now sits at six games over .500, and that hasn't been accomplished around here since the end of 2011-12. (you will recall last year's ".500 Beards'' campaign).
There is no practice for the Mavs on Thursday and then comes a home-game stretch: The talent Clippers, the sluggish Knicks and the troubled Lakers.
Want three more? Two outta three do ya to start the new year?
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
Rick Carlisle recently quoted his late mentor Chuck Daly as saying, 'Don't trust happiness."
It isn't meant to sound as cynical as it seems; it's really just shorthand urging players, urging people, not to settle, not to get fat and satisfied, not to think "good'' is good enough.
That's the message. And it drives this coach. And he drives his men with it.
And maybe it's a good New Year's resolution for the rest of us. We are welcome to let it drive us, too. "Don't trust happiness'' is a great way to get up tomorrow morning and go win another day, Mavs fans.
Happy New Year!
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