Vince Carter again showed that “Vinsanity” is alive and well as he led the Dallas Mavericks in scoring in their win over the Milwaukee Bucks and helped to extend their winning streak to four.
With this win, they are now just 2 1/2 games behind Utah to get that elusive 8th seed spot for the playoffs, and they are inching closer and closer to it. Carter put on a show for everyone by scoring 13 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and connecting on 4 of 6 from downtown; looks like someone’s been practicing those outside shots.
Now not to be outdone, Dirk Nowitzki added 19 points of his own and grabbed 11 rebounds to add another double-double to his stats for the season. Rookie, Jae Crowder, got another nod on starting in place of the injured Shawn Marion and added 14 points of his own to go with 8 rebounds. O J Mayo scored 14 points and newly added vet Mike James scored 13 points and had 6 rebounds and 7 assists.
The good thing about this, 37 yr. old James outplayed a much younger Brandon Jennings who was held to only 4 points and you could tell the frustration in Jennings as he was called for an offensive foul when he pushed James away from the play and all James could do was smile. Just goes to show you, sometimes the vet gets the last laugh!
With the lack of production from Jennings, Bucks coach, Jim Boylan, had to pull Jennings and stay with Monta Ellis and JJ Redick in the back-court to try and muster up some type of offense to stop the bleeding in Dallas’ scoring.
Now Dallas was not without it’s own problems as they had a very lackluster start to this game and let Milwaukee get an early lead before Rick Carlisle made some adjustments and pulled Chris Kaman and inserted Brandan Wright in at center, and it paid off. Wright completed the night with 9 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 3 blocked shots. Wright takes Carlisle’s philosophy to heart about always being ready and he is and it shows, especially tonight. The more opportunity he gets, the better he becomes. With his athleticism, he is able to do things that Kaman can’t, but there again, Kaman has more upper body strength to be a force of nature. So each of them bring something special to the game, it’s just a matter of who they are playing as to who is better suited for the task at hand.
Ellis led the way for the Bucks with scoring 32 points and added 9 assists for the night. Mike Dunleavy was put into the starting lineup and had 18 points on 7 of 12 shooting from the field and connected on 4 of 5 from the three-point line. Redick notched up 17 points, Larry Sanders had his 18th double-double for the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds and Ekpe Udoh added 14 points.
The stats for the night were pretty tight for both teams with Dallas getting just an edge in field goal shooting, 50% to 48.3% for Milwaukee, but the Bucks hit 38.1% to Dallas’ 37.9% from behind the arc and 82.4% to Dallas’ 81.5% from the free throw line. Milwaukee had 9 turnovers to Dallas’ 10 and got the edge in rebounds, 42-41, but Dallas’ bench, who came into this game 4th in the league, again was spectacular by scoring 55 points to Milwaukee’s 34.
Even though Dallas is sitting in the 10th spot, they are still scratching and clawing their way up and with the help of their bench, there is not any reason why they can not be right there with the best of them and with securing this win, it helps to build that momentum before they travel to San Antonio to face the Spurs on Thursday night. Now the Spurs hold that #1 spot in the Western Conference, and they have been playing without Tony Parker, but they still have other weapons that they have at their disposal; but so does Dallas.
Don’t let that #10 spot fool you, Dallas still has a lot of fight left in them and if they play together as a team, then they can come home with that #5 in a row win and get closer to that .500 mark that they have been aiming for the last month.
If “Vinsanity” is alive and the “fear the beard” motto is the ringing in the locker room, then they have it together, now they just need to bring it to the court. The problem that Dallas has is that when they get behind against a good team, they seem to get a little frustrated and then the little mistakes start happening and then the mental game comes into play and you can’t let that happen. Dallas has been in this spot before and they have overcome it and they can do it again.
That’s just the thing; the game of basketball is as much a mental game as it is a physical game and they can’t let the mistakes ruin what they have worked so hard to gain, but I have seen it time and time again. Mayo is playing very good mental basketball and it has been proven by the number of turnovers he has had in the last several games. Against Milwaukee, he only had 1 turnover, as a matter of fact, for the whole month of March, in 6 games, he has only had 5 turnovers and that includes the blowout game against the Houston Rockets where the team had 18 turnovers. For the season, Mayo has 167 turnovers in 63 games, and while that numbers seems high, it averages out to only 2.6 turnovers per game. Mayo has improved on his skills and knowing what to do and when and that has helped him to protect the ball better and use those around him more.
With all this, Dallas is pumped and prepared to do whatever it takes to get to the next level and if nothing else for the pride of the team and the City of Dallas and they are going to do it and they will not go down without a fight.
So San Antonio, here we come and you’d better be ready, because we are. And with that, I will bid you a good day and say good luck and let’s go Mavs!