DONUT 1: Mavs 102, Celtics 91 ...
Thanks to the benefit of being in the FOX Sports Southwest studios yesterday a couple of hours before the Dallas Mavericks tipped off in Boston, I saw the pre-broadcast live feed:
Coach Rick Carlisle entering the gym wearing earbuds. (I'm dying to ask him what he's listening to.)
Dirk Nowitzki and Devin Harris entering together, jovially greeting arena workers.
And Monta Ellis, with his headphones and with his thick winter coat ... and with a limp.
DONUT 2: 'He's like Peter Parker' ...
The Mavs needed Monta's 28 minutes and 11 points to win their fifth consecutive game (a season-best) in Boston, a 102-91 decision. Ellis, after hurting his right hamstring against the Jazz on Friday, kept insisting it was "minor.''
“I told y’all,'' Ellis said afterwards, "that’s a minor injury. It might sound big to most people, but for me if I can walk I can play.”
But Carlisle found his participation "amazing.''
“When he was out there in shootaround I was like, ‘What?’ ” Carlisle said. “I was joking with the assistant coaches that he’s like Peter Parker; he must have got bitten by that radioactive spider that put a jolt into his body where he’s healed.
"Him playing sends a great message to the rest of the guys about just being here,'' Rick said. "And it was big.”
The Mavs are now 31-21 and 10 games over .500 for the first time since their 2010-2011 title season. They are also in sole possession of the seventh spot in the Western Conference playoff race and are just percentage points behind Phoenix, which has the sixth seed.
Read more about "The Amazing Spider-Mavs and the game breakdown here.
DONUT 3: The official highlight reel ...
DONUT 4: Dirk's Engineering ...
The Mavs have won six of their last seven games and while it won't surprise you that Dirk's brilliance is the centerpiece of the run, the efficiency featured within Dirk's brilliance here truly is astounding.
*Jan 26 vs Detroit - 28 points in 32 minutes ... 63-percent shooting
*Jan 29 vs Houston, a two-point loss and the only loss in this bunch - 38 points in 35 minutes on 62-percent shooting
*Jan 31 vs Sacramento - the symmetrical 34 points in 34 minutes shooting 58 percent
*Feb 3 vs Cleveland - 23 points in 30 minutes shooting 56 percent
*Feb 5 vs Memphis -- 26 points in 34 minutes shooting 71 percent
*Friday vs Utah - 20 points in 26 minutes on just nine shots and 56-percent shooting
*Sunday vs. Boston -- 20 points in 32 minutes on 44-percent shooting
Not shooting over 50 percent? The Boston game breaks an impressive streak. Reaching the 20-point mark? That continues one.
There are 19 players in the NBA averaging 20-points-plus. Dirk is No. 12 on that list, which is led by Kevin Durant - and he's at 31 points per and deserves all possible acclaim for that.
But virtually nobody outclasses The Uberman when it comes to offensive efficiency. He can get you a point per minute, make three of every five shots, crush an opponent while only needing nine shots, and over the course of these seven games, despite his high go-thru usage, have a total of nine turnovers?
This man is the bottomless well, the lightbulb that never needs changing, the fine European-engineered automobile that can cruise from Dallas to Berlin on one tank of gas.
Dirk Nowitzki is giving us something even more important and more rare than excellence; he's giving up efficient excellence.
DONUT 5: Dirk's gift to you ...
Our 'Win The Dirk-Signed MFFL Choas Card' Drawing …
Maybe as my reward for serving as the Mavs' spell-check, there are two of the clever "MFFL Conduct Cards'' that did not go into the trash due to the "choas'' typo.
I own them. Dirk has signed them for DallasBasketball.com. And I'm giving them to you.
Your entry in the Nowitzki autograph giveaway is a simple process: You only need to be a member of DB.com Boards (it's free) and then post in this thread a quick thought about Dirk. ... and your T-shirt size.
Shortly after the All-Star Game, we will randomly draw two winners ... and you'll get the "Uberman'' T-shirt (long-ago endorsed by Nowitzki himself as "very cool'') and the almost-one-of-a-kind Dirk-signed MFFL "Choas'' Conduct Card.
If you are a newcomer or if you already a member of DB.com Boards, of course, you are eligible either way ... simply post a quick thought and a shirt size (and any other Dirk/Mavs-related gibberish you find entertaining) and you are registered!
DONUT 6: Thanks, Studio Movie Grill! ...
I'm so proud to be associated with Barrett and the gang at Studio Movie Grill, where they now not only have a DB.com connection but are involved with the Mavs on a grass-roots level in a way that connects with kids in the DFW community.
'Preciate you, guys!
DONUT 7: Late-coming bench ....
With 69 seconds left in the third quarter, the Mavs held a 16-point lead but it was delivered along with a statistical outlier for Dallas: the Mavs bench had taken just 12 shots and made just two.
Were they in danger of letting that fat lead -- up to 24 at one point -- evaporate as they'd done so many times before?
Boston did have a 35-point fourth quarter, but the threat was a minor one and here are the two bench-related reasons why:
*Boston's bench at about the same time was 3-of-15, meaning their second wave had already blown a chance to out-dual Dallas in this area.
*Like I said: this is outlier stuff. The Dallas bench - traditionally one of the NBA's best, full of scoring options and when teamed with Dirk - oh, when Dirk is joined on the floor by Vince, Devin and Wright, this can be one if the scariest offenses in the game - is not going to shoot 20 percent for very long.
And so the lead never evaporated from that late third-quarter moment. Instead it expanded. And by the time the Mavs bench was done, Wright had eight points, six rebounds and two blocks, Devin had 12 points seven assists and Vince was good for 14 points.
In the end, the only way to keep the Mavs bench down is when they are actually, you know, seated. Because when they get up, this team stays up.
DONUT 8: Who Deserves 'The Dirkie'? ....
Marion gets a double-double. Calderon is good for 18/5. Vince off the bench for 14. Dalembert with a fourth straight nice effort.
Lots of candidates who need lots of your votes on Who Deserves "The Dirkie'' as the Player of the Game in Boston! It's a democracy around here, so vote!
For the uninitiated: We decided years ago to honor Nowitzki while he was still at the top of his game by naming the game MVP award after him. He was, and is, our Jordan, our Magic, certainly our Bird.
And because Dallas was in Boston on Sunday, that Dirk-Bird comparison naturally came up.
"They're two of the top 12 players in history, without question," said Carlisle who won a title with Bird and the Celtics in 1986 and remains close to Larry. "They're both, 10 time-plus All-Stars, Finals MVP, League MVP at some point ... and they're both big-time game changers."
Carlisle also noted that Bird had a great deal more help than Dirk has had, roster-wise.
"Dirk didn't have the number of Hall-of-Famers that Larry did," said Carlisle, noting that when he took the Dallas job in 2008 and made a visit to Germany to visit Dirk, he took with him a DVD of Bird for Nowitzki to review. "In many ways, he's carried over the course of his career, a bigger load than almost any star player has in recent history.''
"Dirk, now a 12-time All-Star, is always humble when the subject is broached.
"Over the years as I got older, I watched his games, learned to appreciate his game with really, zero athleticism," Nowitzki said. "Just making things happen with skills and smarts to be one of the best ever. He's one of a kind."
Actually, he's two of a kind. Because along with the work ethic comes the winning. And Dirk's record while playing in Boston, in the shadow of the man he is so often compared to ... is now 11-4.
DONUT 9: The JV feast ...
The Mavs need to continue to feast on the JV.
Dallas' record against East teams is 14-6. Now, that came with a cautionary note going into Boston; the lowly Celtics were 4-16 vs. the West, but all four of those wins came at home.
Meanwhile, the Mavs' numbers on the road are starting to rise to an almost AAC level. In Dallas' seven road games before Boston, the Mavs averaged 107 points per game while shooting 48 percent.
Just like Gene Hackman explained to the Hickory High kids, the rims are 10 feet high no matter what gym they're hung in.
The numbers didn't quite get their in Boston; Dallas shot 45 percent and scored 102. And the nature of the East-as-tomato-cans changes as we go to the All-Star Break, possibly Tuesday in Charlotte where the Bobcats are vying for a playoff spot and then on the second night of a b-2-b in Indy, where the Pacers are vying for a world title.
Worth watching: Whether the Mavs offense can contibue to treat road arenas as if they are perfectly friendly confines.
DONUT 10: Quoteboard ....
“It’s been a nice little winning streak here. We definitely needed it here since obviously Memphis is playing really well lately and they’re making a push, and we’re looking to move up.” - Dirk.
DONUT 11: The 10-spot ....
This speaks to the level of recent foes, sure. But it also speaks to the greatly improved play of late ... and as important as anything, speaks to an effort to avoid losing games in which they've led by 17 or more:
The Mavs have now won a fourth straight games by 10 or more points for the first time since December 2010.
DONUT 12: The Final Word ....
“We’re playing at a higher level,'' Vince Carter said. "Everybody is on the same page, moving the ball. ... The streak is great, but I just think everybody is contributing, everybody is understanding their role, which has helped our continuity. We know what to expect from everybody.”
DONUT 13: The Finest Dentists in North Texas! ...
At McKinneyDentist.com, Dr. Berlin, Dr. Markham, Dr. Lynch and Dr. Wood have been providing the finest in everything from technology to chair-side manner for years, to our family and to so many of you. Their great work has part of us bringing our Mavs coverage to you since 1995 ... And we're proud to be associated with The Finest Dentists in North Texas ... McKinneyDentist.com!