DONUT 1: Setting the table...
With both teams in Game 3 of a four-in-five-nights stretch, the Dallas Mavericks landed in New Orleans to face the Pelicans. In a game that may be as defined by who didn't play – Shawn Marion (severely bruised ribs and shoulder), Wayne Ellington (a late scratch due to illness), Jrue Holiday (stress fracture, right tibia) and Ryan Anderson (herniated disc) – as who did.
From the first moments of this game, when Jose Calderon hit his first attempt, followed 20 seconds later by a Dirk Nowitzki 3-pointer, this felt like the antithesis of the Spurs contest.
The Mavs would never trail, lead by as much as 23, outrebound the Pelicans (38-37), and sailed to the 107-90 win … holding New Orleans to the same number of points Dallas scored against the Spurs.
"It was a good way to recover,'' said Dirk. "We definitely needed to feel better again after really an embarrassing loss on the road."
DONUT 2: It's all about … defense? ...
Entering Friday night, the Mavs ranked 8th in offensive rating (105.4).
The Pelicans were ranked 7th (105.5).
Though the Mavs would not be mistaken for an elite defense, their 104.4 defensive rating (ranked 19) could be seen as an advantage over New Orleans, ranking 28th at 106.4.
With New Orleans stripped down, the game was there to win for the Mavs defense. In the first quarter, the Pelicans hit 9-of-17 field goals (52.9 percent), but had seven turnovers that led directly to 12 Dallas points.
From the beginning of the second quarter until 3:40 remained in the third, New Orleans hit only 11-of-33 attempts (33 percent) … and trailed by 23 at the end of this stretch.
As much as anywhere else, this is where the game was won.
"That's when we're our best, when we attack and get some good shots out of it," said Nowitzki. "When we lose some games, it's usually on the defensive side and on the rebounding side, so if we defend and rebound, I like our offense."
DONUT 3: Vote now, Mavs fans! ...
It's your chance to vote! Who Deserves "The Dirkie''?
DONUT 4: The Big Two … both of ‘em ...
Dirk Nowitkzi: 24 points, 10-of-19 field goals, five assists, four rebounds, three steals, two blocks and zero turnovers.
Monta Ellis: 23 points, 8-of-16 field goals, 6-of-8 free throws, eight assists, two steals, one block and three turnovers.
When you get both of these guys hitting their shots (the team is now 5-2 when both convert at least 50 percent of their attempts), but also add 13 assists, five steals, three blocks and only three turnovers … you have to feel a little better about the Mavs chances against anyone.
Over the past two games, Ellis has a 53.0 field-goal percentage … showing signs of pulling himself out of his recent slump.
DONUT 5: Are there tired legs? ...
We dug up some Premium numbers during Ellis's slump that seemed to suggest "tired legs" could be a factor in his decreased efficiency. That's not to say it is the only explanation, only that it could be a part of a wider set of factors influencing his performance.
Ellis came into Friday's game averaging exactly 37 minutes per game … the next highest workload went to Dirk, at 32.7.
This could be a coincidence, an outlier created by greater contextual sway – such as lesser minutes coming when the Mavs maintaining a larger lead, as they may when Ellis is hitting his shots -- but the following remains interesting.
In games where Ellis plays 37 minutes or more he has hit at least 47.5 percent of his shots only three times in 21 chances.
In games where Ellis plays less than 37 minutes he has hit at least 47.5 percent of his shots nine times in 16 chances (including Friday night).
To express that another way, when Ellis plays at or over 37 minutes he has converted 47.5 percent of his shots 14.3 percent of the time … when under 37 minutes, he has done so 56.3 percent of the time.
Worth noting, the Mavs are 13-8 when Ellis plays over 37 minutes (seven decided by double digits), and 8-8 when he plays under (eight decided by double digits).
DONUT 6: Get Carter ...
Vince Carter has played 36 games this season. In 16 of he's hit 33.3 percent or less of his shot attempts. In 12, he's now hit 45 percent or more.
Such are the ways of "Good Carter" and "Bad Carter."
When he's hit 33.3 percent or less, Dallas is 6-10 … Bad Carter.
When he's hit 45 percent or more, Dallas is 9-3 … Good Carter.
Friday night, the Mavs got "Good Carter."
Carter finished with 14 points on 4-of-6 field goals, including 3-of-5 behind the arc.
DONUT 7: DONUT 7: Crowder as a first-teamer ...
Jae Crowder got his third start of the season. The Mavs have won all three … against the 76ers (a game Crowder played poorly in, and Dallas got off to a very bad start), Milwaukee and now the Pelicans. While you shouldn't get too carried away by the thought of that 3-0 record, it's certainly not a bad thing either.
Crowder had easily his best game as a starter this season. In the previous two, he was a combined 3-of-17 from the floor with five total turnovers. Against the Pelicans, he finished with 12 points on 5-of-8 field goals, including 2-of-4 behind the arc.
Our only complaint would be only three rebounds in just under 40 minutes.
"Jae played a solid game," Carlisle said. "He hasn't done great as a starter, but it was time for him to step up and be ready and give us what we needed."
To end on a positive, Crowder came into the Friday night as the 18th best defender in the league by points per possession allowed (per SynergySports), at a paltry 0.69, holding opponents to a 30.3 field-goal percentage, including 22.4 percent from three.
DONUT 8: The DB.com Mavs Podcast ...
The Dallas Mavericks? That is what life is all about for DB.com Podcasters Mike Marshall, Mike Fisher and Kevin Turner
It's also apparently what a ton of you focus on, and we appreciate those five-star reviews rolling in even as Our Three Boys occasionally exhibit some NSFW pottie-mouthedness.
Here's how we roll on the DB.com Mavs Podcast here on iTunes and up and running below as well ...
Pull up a chair to the hoops roundtable and let's kick it around ... as we drop the names of:
*Danny Granger and Lance Stephenson (acquired in trade for Marion, Calderon and Larkin).
*Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner (acquired in trade for Monta, Vince and Ledo).
*Plus stuff on Z-Bo, Chris Bosh, Andrew Bynum, Luol Deng, Omer Asik and more and "The 12 Free Agents We Really Like''!
The DallasBasketball.com Mavs Podcast, y'all!
DONUT 9: Dalembert's quality start …
While it was a last-minute announcement to most, Rick Carlisle and company had decided early Friday to go with Samuel Dalembert as the starting center … again … for the first time in three games.
Dalembert rewarded the decision with one of his better all-around performances of the season, despite only playing a tad over 18 minutes.
"We're all about second chances and getting it right," Carlisle said. "He's doing his part and we need him. … Trust and respect universally have to be earned, and he's earned a lot back here in the last couple of games. Sam's a good guy. We all like him. Tonight he showed what he's capable of."
For the third time with the Mavericks, Dalembert finished with at least nine points and eight rebounds. In addition, he tied his second highest block total of the season with three.
"As you can see, when they call my name, I'm out there and I'm going hard and I'm giving all I can to help win the game," Dalembert said. "When they do call my name, I'm ready."
Well, that's simply not true. But when "Somnambulant Sam'' has been ready enough to be in the starting lineup and eat up minutes?
The Mavs are 15-8 in games Dalembert starts … and 8-1 when he plays at least 25 minutes.
"He's just got to be a little more professional and show up on time like everybody else has to,'' Dirk said.
DONUT 10: The Boardroom ...
The Mavs are now 8-1 this season when outrebounding their opponent.
Last season, Dallas was outrebounded by an average of 3.7 rebounds per game, third worst in the NBA … and had a rebounding percentage of 47.9.
The Mavs rebounding differential was -4.1 entering Friday night, also third worst in the NBA … and they now have a rebounding percentage of 47.7.
The results are the same, yet the path to get there hasn't been.
This season, the Mavs centers are grabbing rebounds with greater efficiency. DeJuan Blair leads the team taking in 18.4 percent of available rebounds. Dalembert and Bernard James are right behind him at 17.3 percent … the best on last year's roster was James at 15.7 percent.
However, almost every other position is down.
|Player||'12-13 Reb%||'13-14 Reb%||Change|
Only Crowder has shown improvement, and he's still far below what you would like to see from a player in his role and with his build … and Wright saw his rebounding percentage go up from 10.9 to the 11.7 above on the back of his six boards against the Pelicans, tying his season high.
In theory, with the production Dalembert and Blair have given, this Mavs group should be a better rebounding unit than a season ago … they only need everyone else to chip in a little more.
DONUT 11: Mavsellaneous ...
*New Orleans may have been without Anderson or Holiday, but still had Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon. Gordon set a season high with 27 points (his second most ever against the Mavs), hitting 9-of-13 shots. Davis finished with 21 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks and two steals.
*For only the fifth time in his career Dirk finished with at least 24 points … and no free-throw attempts.
It was the second time this has occurred this year, a year only 10 days old … something that had taken place only three times in his career coming into this season, has popped up twice in a week: Jan 3rd against the Clippers and Jan 10th.
*We've all witnessed that DeJuan Blair's height can be a hindrance near the rim, especially when any secondary defenders drift his way. With that in mind:
After Friday (when he had two attempts blocked), 28.2 percent of DeJuan Blair's misses this season have been the direct result of having his shot blocked. On a per-minute basis, Blair gets his shot blocked almost twice as often as any player on the roster who has played at least 300 minutes this season, 1.9 times per 48 minutes, with the next in line being Dalembert and Shane Larkin at 1.1.
If Blair converted the shots he's had blocked at the same rate he's at for the season, 55.8 percent, he would now be shooting 62.7 percent.
*The Mavs totaled 32 assists and are now 5-1 when they have at least 30 assists as a team.
*Al-Farouq Aminu had exactly 16 points and 20 rebounds in each of the past two meetings with the Mavs. Friday night, he had four points and five boards.
*With Marion and Ellington unavailable, Ricky Ledo got his first meaningful minutes in an NBA game. He finished with two points, 1-of-3 field goals and one steal in just over nine minutes. Ledo was productive enough, and fellow rookie Shane Larkin had five points and six assists in 14 minutes.
*10 players on the Mavs attempted at least three shots, only three of those ten failed to convert half. Oddly, it was the two players that lead the team in field-goal percentage for the season: Brandan Wright (2-of-6) and Blair (1-of-5).
*Crowder loaded up on minutes (39:51) but nobody else played 33. And Dirk, trying to stay fresh enough for Saturday night when the Pels come to the AAC, got his 24 points in just 28 minutes.
*Devin Harris may be about 10 days away from returning to the floor. Harris, sidelined all year after undergoing toe surgery over the summer, went through a full-contact workout on Thursday with some teammates. The plan is to have him fully participate in a practice on Tuesday.
*Happy anniversary, Mr. and Mrs. Dugat!
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
Once more, the Mavs needed something to stop the bleeding. ... to recover from recent "embarrassment,'' as Dirk said. A wounded Pelicans team fit and fed that desire perfectly. Put simply, this was a game the Mavs should have won … and they did.
"Dirk, Monta, Vince, Calderon -- all of those guys could just do whatever they wanted on any play,'' New Orleans' Austin Rivers said, "a if they were just going through a script.''
With both teams playing their fourth game in five nights Saturday, the script needs to continue to be followed.
The Mavs should get another win. Now, they must do that as well.
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