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Tuesday Mavs (Closing On Sixth?) Donuts
DONUT 1: The Premium Goods ...
With the Boston Celtics in town for Saint Patrick's Day, the Dallas Mavericks opened the longest homestand in franchise history, an eight-game marathon that has almost everyone around the team voicing concerns over the negatives a creeping level of comfort could allow to sneak in to the teams disposition.
With both teams playing on the second night of a back-to-back, neither offense ever found solid footing for prolonged stretches, leaving a game of runs. Luckily for the Mavs, most of the Dallas runs built leads, as large as 15, while the Celtics' used the vast majority of theirs to shrink deficits.
Monta Ellis still appeared to be suffering the effects of an illness that limited him the night before and Dirk Nowitzki struggled to find his shot, hitting 6-of-17 attempts for 19 points, but the Mavs found a way to scratch out a win despite their third worst rebounding differential of the season (-21) by a score of 94-89.
We've got Your All-Access Pass to the game here featuring Video Visits with Dirk and all the other key players, and plays, from inside the locker room, along the baseline and even in the front office at Mavs HQ.
The best way to know everything there is to know about the Mavs' push for the playoffs (which has them now one game out of sixth)? Come inside while taking our free 7-day trial and experience Mavs Premium!
DONUT 2: The official highlight reel ...
"We did enough to win,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. "We won three of the four quarters. We had a dry third quarter, but they didn't score all that well themselves that quarter, either. Pretty typical, both teams playing back-to-back type game.''
DONUT 3: Stat O' The Night ...
Dallas is now 9-6 on the second night of back-to-backs, with only one more back-to-back this season. Last year, the Mavs were 7-9 on the back end of back-to-backs.
DONUT 4: MontaBall ...
Monta Ellis has struggled from the field over the past two games, averaging 13.0 points while hitting only 33.3 percent of his shots. To have tunnel vision for this is to lose focus on all he's brought to the table ... led by his desire to simply be on the court despite his illness.
You can point to his 5.5 assists, 7.5 free-throw attempts (including two that helped ice the Celtics' contest) as methods he's found to positively impact the game despite his shots not falling … but more than anything, you may have to look to the disposition (to use one of Carlisle's favorite words) he's setting by example, demanding to be on the court to do all he can to help his team regardless of what ails him.
There's something to be said for this brand of toughness, especially from one of the best players on the roster. It helps set an example, a tone. It's one more reason to like what Ellis has offered the Mavs.
"Monta got it all when it comes to pain threshold," owner Mark Cuban said. "He's a warrior. You ask him how he's feeling: ‘I gotcha.' You ask him if he's hurt: ‘I gotcha.' Some guys look for reasons to go the other way. Monta doesn't need a reason.
"He's in, and that speaks volumes about him."
But wait a sec. "Monta GOT it all'' or "Monta HAVE it all''?
"Oh, yeah,'' Cuban said, recognizing the variation in regional dialects in trying to use Monta's catchphrase. "That's the difference between Pennsylvania and Mississippi.''
A subtle sample of the Monta floor game as he contributed a 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists against Boston:
And Monta's Video Visit:
Yeah. He's sick.
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DONUT 5: #TeamTank ...
Tanking usually doesn't end up being fun. Stinking never is fun.
Boston has now gone the entire 2013-14 season without a win on the road against the Western Conference, finishing 0-15. ... a first for this proud franchise.
"It's not something we shoot for and it's not something we'd like to do," Boston coach Brad Stevens said. "The West is clearly better than the East, I don't think anybody would argue that, but at the same time we've had our chances in a couple of those games.
"It's frustrating. Most of the season has been frustrating."
DONUT 6: Financial wisdom ...
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DONUT 7: Quotable ...
"If I have the ability to walk in the gym, I have the ability to play basketball. That's just my mentality." - Monta Ellis.
DONUT 8: Eulogizing Jerry Buss ...
Mark Cuban long ago picked out the Los Angeles Lakers as a personal rival, as a "foil.'' But all along he looked to Lakers owner Jerry Buss as a mentor and on Monday offered an impromptu eulogy for Buss, who passed away on Feb. 18, 2013 at the age of 80.
"I don't think there was a smarter owner in the history of the NBA than Jerry Buss,'' Cuban said. "So I don't think there's any question he's by far the best owner in the history of the NBA. No exception.''
Buss, whose reign of the Lakers began in 1979, was an innovator in recognizing ways to make the game a "show,'' and Cuban borrowed many of those philosophies when he bought the Mavs in 2000.
"He understood fans, entertainment, players, how to balance all of it together, how to deal with the NBA, when to listen to (ex-NBA commissioner) David (Stern) and when to ignore him and when to tell him what to do,'' Cuban said. "He had that breadth of skills that every time I spoke to him -- usually I'm used to doing to the talking, just force of habit -- but he's one of the few people that when we sat down I did all the listening.
"When we were turning things around that first couple of years he was like, ‘You're doing it right, don't listen to the naysayers, just keep on doing what you're doing.' ... He said, ‘Everything that I did that I'm most proud of, somebody was mad at me for it and called the commissioner, so stick to your guns.'
"So I owe him a lot.''
Cuban still views the Lakers as a rival and on Monday wondered aloud if that traditionally regal franchise will ever be the same now that Buss' family is running it without him.
"Jerry Buss was the Lakers, so I don't know if the Lakers will ever be the Lakers,'' Cuban said."I don't think people realize just how good of an owner Jerry was. I looked up to him a lot. Absolutely. So I don't know if the Lakers will ever be the Lakers.''
DONUT 9: Scoreboard-watching ...
While Dallas was taking care of its business against the hapless Celtics, Phoenix lost to Brooklyn, pushing them 2.5 games behind the Mavs. Dallas also moved a full game ahead of Memphis for the seventh seed, trails Golden State by one game for the sixth seed, and is only behind the Blazers by 2.5 for the fifth.
Thinking about the fifth seed? Well, while Dallas is on an eight-game homestand, Portland is hitting the road for a long stretch. So sure. Think about it.
DONUT 10: Poking Dirk ...
Before the game, Mark Cuban took a poke at Dirk for his occasional "napping.'' (That story is here.)
This speaks to the unusual relationship between the two men ... but Tony Cubes doesn't push this thing too hard, admitting that it's only the third time in their decade-and-a-half together that he's "called out'' his face-of-the-franchise star -- and only did it on Monday after having engaged in a jovial meeting on the subject with The Uberman.
"This was a tough one for everyone,'' Dirk said after scoring 19 points but making just only 6-of-17 shots. "We didn't shoot the ball well. We just had to grind it out somehow. I had some good looks. They just didn't go down. I tried to be aggressive and was looking for my shot, but it just wasn't my night."
DONUT 11: Thanks, Red Rock! ...
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DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
There was a lot not to like about the Mavs performance against the Celtics, except the result. We can complain about the rebounding, the stretches of sluggish play, the inability to crush a team with goals clearly oriented towards the future in place of current success.
But they are in the chase. They get a day off today. All because they got the win.
And the longest homestand in franchise history would've been made to seem a lot longer had they not.
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