Here we are just 5 games into the season and we are 4-1 without one of the biggest players in the league on the court; who would have thought that the Dallas Mavericks would be where they were without Dirk Nowitzki. I know that we have recapped this over and over again in the media, but I really feel that once the young, new team of players on the Mavericks won the game against the Lakers, it did a tremendous thing for their confidence. They proved that they could do it without Dirk, hold down the fort until he is able to return.
With Dirk out for a couple of more weeks rehabbing his knee from surgery, now Shawn Marion is out a couple of games with a strained calf or MCL, Elton Brand was out of this game while his wife is having a baby, so you have to readjust the lineup and folks, the team did just fine.
How loud can you holler “O” “J” “Mayo”? I knew this guy was a good player and always hated to have to go against him over the last several seasons when he was with the Memphis Grizzlies, because he was such a weapon for them and a scoring machine; but then something happened. Mayo got moved to the bench as basically 6th man and he had trouble adjusting to that. I really feel it’s all in the way you approach a player and explain to him why you need him in that role and advise him it’s not a punishment thing, it’s a team thing and you are the best of the next line of scoring and/or defense. This is where I have to give a lot of credit to Avery Johnson and how he handled putting Jason Terry in that role. I’m sure it was hard at first, being a started your whole career and now you are a sub player, but it’s a psychological thing and you have to play to appeal to the egos of players when you make those moves.
JET was one of the best 6th man role players in the league, hence why he won the award, as well as the others that have won that honor, it’s all in the approach. But I think for Mayo it was more than that. I could be wrong, but you could definitely see a decline in his play, his attitude and overall aspect of the game, until now.
With the absence of Dirk, the leading scorer of the team, there was a big question mark put on this team as in who would fill those shoes for scoring. Well Mayo may not fill Dirk’s shoes completely, but his certainly is filling the shoes of helping to keep this team on a terror against opponents and winning while at the same time, being the leading scorer.
Tonight was no different. Mayo and Chris Kaman led the Mavs in scoring for the night with 22 a piece, while Vince Carter still lets everyone know he can still deliver and added 17 points of his own and was revving it up on the court with some high flying antics. Darren Collison is still showing his leadership abilities and had 15, while Brandon Wright put up 12 of his own for the night.
Again, being without Brand in the rotation, it give the other big men like Jae Crowder and Wright to have more time on the court and they is no disappointment there at all. Dallas was able to hold off the likes of Andre Bargnani in only allowing him to score 25 points, Demar DeRozan only had 24 points. Amir Johnson added 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, Anderson added 13 and Jose Calderon only had 11 points, so needless to say, I think we did just fine. Imagine what will happen when we get to be at full strength!
Dallas welcomed back another former assistant coach in Dewayne Casey tonight and you could tell, just like in Terry Stotts, they are putting their stamp on their new teams as they did when there were here in Dallas. Casey is still thinking in that defensive mode and it showed some last night.
The Mavs took a demanding lead in the first at 36-24, but the Raptors starting to make a game of it in the second and outscored the Mavs 26-25,but the Mavs still had a 61-50 lead at halftime, but the Raptors were not done. During the third and fourth quarters, Dallas got outscored 54-48, but was able to maintain a lead to take the win at 109-104, but they did give Dallas a run for their money.
For once Dallas won the rebound battle by grabbing 47 rebounds to Toronto’s 38, but again Toronto gave them fits on all of the rebounds. Dallas shot 46.4% from the field, while Toronto shot 44.4%; behind Mayo, Dallas shot 38.1% from behind the arc to Toronto’s 22.7%, but Dallas is still struggling from the charity stripe. Dallas shot only 65.7% of their free throws, compared to 87.1% from Toronto. It looks like they are going to have to spend more time in the gym working on free throws because there will come a time in a game when that will be the determining factor in a win and we want to be on top of that category.
Dallas did protect the ball fairly well by only committing 12 turnovers, so that part they have been working on and doing better at. Believe it or not, at this time, Dallas is tied for 1st place in not only the Southwest Division, but also in the Western Conference with the San Antonio Spurs and is one of 3 teams at 4-1 and only the New York Knicks have not lost a game yet, but that’s before Dallas ventures there on Friday night to face the Knicks. Let’s hope our good game continues.
If Mayo can continue hitting the shots he is, by the way, he is leading the league in 3 point shooting and the Mavericks are leading the league in 3 point shooting, but if we can continue as we are, once we get back to full capacity, everyone better watch out.
So where do we go from here, well on Friday they take on the Knicks in New York and then travel to Charlotte on Saturday for a rematch with the Bobcats before they come home to face a hot Minnesota Timberwolves team on Monday night.
And with that, I will bid you a good night and say good luck and let’s go Mavs!