For a team that's seen its share of come-from-ahead-losses, standing on the other side of the razor…
All-Access Donuts: Mavs 108, Jazz 101
DONUT 1: Blind and backwards ...
When we say the Dallas Mavericks' loss at Golden State on Wednesday was a blind-and-backwards effort, we mean it in the literal sense ... and you get the drift (and a chuckle) from Monta Ellis' pregame warmups in Oakland.
It didn't work out for Monta and mates against the Warriors, as you can read here. So ...
DONUT 2: A must-win ...
The Mavericks spent the second night of a back-to-back in Utah, trying to shake off that poor showing against Golden State. Dirk Nowitzki, disappointed in his personal lack of aggression against the Warriors, especially early, came out of the gate firing, scoring the first seven points for the Mavs … and passing John Havlicek to gain sole possession of the 12th spot on the NBA's all-time scoring list on the game's first basket, 14 seconds in.
While Dallas would oscillate between moments of strong and careless play, looking alternatively dominant and frustratingly sloppy, Dirk would not cool. Even as Monta Ellis flirted with a triple-double (16 points, 11 assists, 7 rebounds), it was Nowitzki's night.
Needing only 14 shots to reach 31 points, Dirk did the heavy lifting on offense, adding a team-high eight rebounds, and though the Mavs could never really pull away, they would end the night with a much-needed 108-101 victory … and are now 5-0 on the road on the second night of back-to-backs this season.
"We felt like this was a must win, especially, we just didn't compete the way we wanted to last night (against Golden State)," Dirk said to Mark Followill and Derek Harper on FOX Sports Southwest after the game. "We had a tough outing. We knew we had three days off and we wanted to leave everything out there and just attack all game … I just wanted to set the tone early."
DONUT 3: The official NBA highlight reel ...
DONUT 4: Getting the win … oh, and making history ...
Dirk wasn't looking to focus on a major historical accomplishment, choosing instead to place attention on the context of now: this game, this team, this season, and this playoff race.
After averaging 13 points over the last two games, hitting only 7-of-25 shot attempts in the process, Dirk wanted to set the tone. He did: 31 points, 12-of-14 field goals, 4-of-4 3-pointers and eight rebounds.
His 31 ties for the second most regular-season points Dirk has scored in his career when taking no more than 14 shots, the high being 34, also against Utah back in 2002 … he did have 36 in a playoff game against the Spurs in 2010, going 12-of-14 from the floor then as well.
Since the 1985-86 season, only nine players have had at least 31 points while taking no more than 14 field-goal attempts and getting to the free-throw line only three times … as Dirk did here. This isn't a complaint on the officiating, only a nod to the rarity of Nowitzki's performance, the efficiency of it.
Generally, when you see a player reach a high point total on remarkably few shot attempts it's due at least in part to a significant number of free throws. That wasn't the case Wednesday night … just one of the greatest scorers in the history of the game treating the rim as an ocean for him to skip rocks into.
"He really led our team tonight," coach Rick Carlisle said of The Uberman. "Our guys played with some real emotions. They knew the importance of the game, but Dirk was great from start to finish. I mean, 12-for-14 is ridiculous and 4-for-4 from three. It's hard to do much better than that."
DONUT 5: More history ...
For the season, Dirk is now averaging 21.5 points per game.
Currently, he has 26,426 points for his career, good for the 12th most in NBA history.
Dominique Wilkins (11th at 26,668) and Oscar Robertson (10th at 26,710) wait directly ahead on the all-time scoring list.
If he continues to average 21.5 for the final 16 games, not missing any, he would add 344 to his career totals … which would give him 26,770 and move him into the top 10 all-time.
To look at it another way, as long as Dirk averages 17.8 over the final 16 games, he'll edge ahead of Oscar Robertson for 10th.
Think about that for a moment. Not that Wednesday's accomplishment isn't already huge … but there's something inherently glorious in joining "The Top 10" … even if the extra weight comes from our need to place importance on nice, round numbers, the level of achievement we're looking at here is … legendary.
The championship has a special place in the hearts of Mavs' fans. Let what's continuing to unfold from a once-in-a-generation (if every generation can be so lucky) franchise player nest somewhere deep in your memories as well.
DONUT 6: 50-40-90 chase …
Dirk is at 49.5, 39.8 and 91.7 conversion percentages on field goals, 3-pointers and free throws, respectively.
If he maintains his current shooting paces from the floor (1010 field-goal attempts and 251 3-point tries through 64 games), he will finish with 1262 field-goal attempts and 313 3-point tries (rounding down, since he can't finish with a partial attempt) … meaning, to get to 50/40 field-goal and 3-point percentages, he'll need to finish season with 631 made field goals and 126 made 3-pointers (rounding up, because he can't have a partial make, and has to be at or above the percentage mark).
Put another way, if current paces are maintained, he'll need to hit 51.98 percent of his field goals and 41.9 percent of his threes.
DONUT 7: Almost have it all …
Monta Ellis flirted with a triple double, finishing with 16 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds.
Though Ellis hit only 1-of-7 field-goal attempts in the first half, he was a big part of the offense, handing out four assists without a turnover. He was attacking the rim, often looking for contact and a whistle, but failing to get to the line as often as he would have liked.
In the second half, he found his shot, scoring 13 points by hitting 5-of-8 attempts to go with seven more assists, though he did add four turnovers.
He picked up his game once more in the fourth quarter, leading the Mavs with seven points and four assists.
DONUT 8: Devin Harris returns …
After leaving the previous game with a sore Achilles, Devin Harris tested the injury before the game and decided he was a go, and once again led the bench in scoring, finishing with 12 points, 5-of-9 field goals, 1-of-3 3-pointers, three rebounds, three assists and three turnovers.
"I thought Devin had a fantastic effort,'' Dirk said.
Added Rick: "Harris did what he's been doing. I mean, he gave us a little bit of everything – playmaking and scoring.''
However, it was Jose Calderon on the court to the close out the game. After setting a season high with six turnovers against the Warriors, Calderon had zero Wednesday and finished with 10 points, 3-of-8 field goals, including 2-of-4 behind the arc to go with five assists.
Harris and Calderon perfectly split he fourth quarter, each getting exactly six minutes, but it was Calderon who played the final six.
DONUT 9: Post All-Star Game trends …
Dallas is now 7-5 since the All-Star Break. The Mavs have only two more back-to-backs over the final 16 games, the first beginning this Sunday in Oklahoma City, then home against Boston, and another in early April in Los Angeles against the two LA teams.
Stay tuned to DB.com as we'll spend the day breaking down more offensive and defensive trends that we think tell a story ... a good story and a non-so-good story.
DONUT 10: Mavsellaneous …
*With Jae Crowder missing again due to his abdomen issue, Wayne Ellington was in line to get minutes. Ellington responded by "making it Wayne" in Utah, scoring 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting, including hitting all three attempts behind the arc.
Ellington now trails only Calderon (44.7) in 3-point percentage on the Mavs, at 43.1 for the season.
*The Dallas centers did not have a great game. Samuel Dalembert was continually limited by foul trouble, and neither Brandan Wright nor DeJuan Blair stood out in a positive manner. This led to Bernard James getting a little over seven minutes of burn.
Part of the issue: Dalembert/Wright/James combined for nine rebounds total … Enes Kanter grabbed 11 on his own, including five on the offensive end, on his way to a double-double with 18 points and those 11 boards.
Derrick Favors added four of his own offensive rebounds, meaning Favors and Kanter had as many offensive rebounds as the Mavs centers had total.
*Dallas set a season high by hitting 61.9 percent of its 3-point tries.
*Memphis beat New Orleans on a last-second shot from Mike Conley Jr. Phoenix lost to Cleveland, falling two full games behind the Mavs, but only one in the loss column. So, if the West playoffs started today, the matchups would be Spurs vs. Dallas, OKC vs. Memphis, Clips vs. Warriors and Rockets vs. Blazers.
DONUT 11: Have you voted yet? ...
Who Deserves "The Dirkie''? Vote here for Player of the Game! It's a Mavs fandom tradition!
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
For most of the game, it seemed like the Mavs fell apart for a few minutes immediately following any strong stretch of play, allowing Utah to stay in the game. Some see the 22-43 record beside the Jazz and assume this should have been a win walking away, but given the travel situation on the second night of a back-to-back against a team traditionally tough at home (now 14-18 on their home court this season), this is a solid win.
"We knew this was a big game," Nowitzki said after the win. "After dropping one (in Oakland) and a bad offensive night, we talked about how we had to set a more aggressive offensive tone tonight. And I think that's what we did."