The Dallas Mavericks opened the season on Tuesday night, with a very tough back-to-back on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz. While waiting for Dirk Nowitzki to return from his knee injury, the Mavs were hoping to at least split the opening back-to-back and build some momentum heading into the opening homestand, which begins Saturday against the Charlotte Bobcats.
Dallas did just that, but in a surprising fashion. They pretty much dominated the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night, winning 99-91. The Mavs beat the heavily favored Lakers and their huge frontcourt of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol without Nowitzki and starting center Chris Kaman, while managing to get beat on the glass by only six.
However, on Wednesday, the momentum took a little dip after the Mavs let Utah run away with the game in the 3rd quarter, losing to the Jazz 113-94. A 37-13 advantage for the Jazz in the 3rd quarter pretty much put the game out of reach for Dallas. Utah put the game away with strong post play and good three point shooting.
So what evidence does this opening two-game stretch provide?
It shows that the Mavs are going to fight and scrap with any team in the NBA. Nobody saw the Mavs beating LA, and that game Tuesday night proved that Dallas isn't going to throw in the towel for any opponent, no matter how favored that opponent might be.
However, It also shows that the Mavs are at a severe disadvantage in the rebounding department without Nowitzki and Kaman. After the Mavs started Wednesday night's game against Utah going 5-5 and taking an eight-point lead into the half, Dallas showed their struggles against a frontcourt of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Dallas also let Utah newcomers Mo Williams, Marvin Williams, and Randy Foye heat up from three-point land as Utah took charge in the 3rd quarter.
The key for the Mavs to overcome their apparent rebounding struggles and, at times, stagnant offense, is to make sure they have good flow to their offense under head coach Rick Carlisle, good ball movement, and timely shot making. Dallas fell to under 40 percent shooting for the game in the second half last night while Utah was throwing their haymaker. Dallas also had no advantage on the offensive glass, something that the Jazz took full advantage off, getting put backs on rare missed shots.
Darren Collison and Brandan Wright were the only bright spots in Wednesday night's loss, building on their season-opening performances in the win against LA. Collison had 17 points on 6-12 shooting. Wright added 15 points on 7-8 shooting.
The Mavs have a chance to get some wins at home as they begin a three-game homestand on Saturday night. Dallas plays its home opener against the Charlotte Bobcats.
Dallas is hoping to have starting center Chris Kaman back for the game against Charlotte.
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