Thursday, November 26, 2009

Big Bounce-Back: Mavs 130, Rockets 99

It seemed like something the same old Mavericks would do, blowing a fourth quarter lead to an opponent after dominating the game for 41 minutes. After the ugly late-game collapse against a shorthanded Golden State Warriors team two nights ago, the Mavs (11-4) responded in a way that certainly did not represent that same old mentality.

The Mavs thrashed Houston, 130-99, in the I-45 series in a game that may not have been that close. Dallas found itself in a similar situation as the night before against the Warriors, leading late in the game. The difference: they kept on pushing their lead even after getting up 91-77 over the Rockets heading into the 4th quarter.

It's not the first time this season where the Mavs recorded a solid road win over a quality opponent after a bad beat at home. And that simply hasn't been a trait of the Mavericks in recent years. Maybe it was those light blue jerseys. Whatever it is, it's working to help this team respond when it needs to.

The last few years, it hasn't been uncommon for this team to relax with a lead and thus allowing their opponents back into a game. It hurt against Golden State on Tuesday, especially considering they used just six players, including three that played all 48 minutes. But on Wednesday, Dallas gained back some composure - not to mention the return of Shawn Marion - and at one point ran off 26 straight points. Any time an NBA team goes on a 26-0 run, it's not just great offense, but the Mavs defense was creating stops at the other end of the court.

Houston mustered just four fast break points compared to the Mavs 20, and Dallas dominated from the floor, shooting a .655 clip on Wednesday. The Mavs got a tremendous boost from not only Jason Terry, who threw in a game-high 27 points on 10-of-11 shooting off the bench, but there was a Tim Thomas sighting as well, as the power forward came off the bench for 23 points.

One of the most meaningful accomplishments of the game came on a Jason Kidd assist to move into second all-time in career assists. Kidd's seven helpers brought his career total to 10,334 (he's still a helluva long way from John Stockton's 15,806).

Kidd's handprints were apparent even after he sat down for the fourth quarter. With about 2:30 left in the game, J.J. Barea collected the ball at the defensive end of the court, began dribbling up court, and then raised the ball high above his "6-0" frame, and slung a length-of-the-court bounce pass to Rodrigue Beaubois for an easy layup. That's a Jason Kidd pass if I've ever seen one, and it was executed perfectly by Barea.

Keep looking for those plays, plays that guys on this team wouldn't have made in years past. I realize it's a late-game assist in a blowout win, but it represents an increase of talent across the board.

Getting back Marion was great after a three-game absence. When Josh Howard and Erick Dampier return, this team will emerge as a true threat in the Western Conference.

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