The Dallas Mavericks spotted the Toronto Raptors a 2-0 lead and then handled things the rest of the way en route to a 109-104 victory. The Mavericks closed out their homestand with their third straight win. With the win, the Mavericks improved to 4-1 on the year. It marks the first time since 2007-08 that Dallas has started 4-1. In addition, it’s the first time since 2007-08 Dallas has started 3-0 at home.
Chris Kaman made his first start of the season and tallied a team-high-tying 22 points. O.J. Mayo shared team-high honors with 22 points. Mayo is averaging 28.0 points and shooting 66.7 percent from 3-point range over his last three games. Darren Collison scored 15 points in the victory. He joins O.J. Mayo and Brandan Wright as the only Mavericks to score in double figures in each of Dallas’ first five games.
Rebounding has been an issue for the team as of late. They found an unexpected source of relief in that department as rookie Bernard James grabbed nine rebounds in only 18 minutes of action.
Play of the night: It didn’t count, but Collison had a nice lob pass to Vince Carter. As Aaron Gray channeled his inner Andrew Bynum and delivered a hard forearm shiver to Collison, the point guard delivered a perfect lob pass to Carter for the dunk. The play was reviewed and Gray was given a flagrant-one foul. Despite that call negating the play, it still looked good.
Here is the full quoteboard for the Dallas victory over Toronto.
On the way the team played as they were depleted: “I liked the way we played for the most part. WE had some lapses during the game, but the starting lineup got us off to a good start. We were hitting shots. The thing we missed tonight was Elton’s physical presence. Without him we aren’t a very physical team. That is my concern and hopefully we will get him back for Friday.”
On Chris Kaman: “I wanted to be careful with his minutes and try not to play him in too many stretches beyond six minutes. He is doing better physically and made good plays. His post up in the last two minutes was a huge play. Right now, it’s important for me to understand that he has to be brought along a certain way and we can’t just throw him out there for seven or eight minutes and expect him to go the right way. He is going to get tired and it is going to cause lapses in concentration and physically he isn’t there yet.”
On improving on the glass: “We did well tonight. We played bigger guys and Bernard James had a great game. He was a real factor when he was in there. He had quite a few rebounds. He had nine in 18 minutes. That is a hell of a night. We’re making progress in that area. We played a team tonight that is playing its fourth in five nights and that is a great advantage. We were fresh and they weren’t and we did what we were supposed to do.”
On the Chris Kaman bucket and the impact he has on the team: “It was part of a multi option play. It’s great…Kaman gives us an inside presence and also gives us perimeter skill. His outside shooting that is going to be something that is going to be very important for us.”
On the play of Vince Carter: “Vince generally is one of the smartest players I’ve ever been around. He did some things tonight that were questionable, judgment wise (laugh). I talked to him about it. He’s great. The thing with him is that he’s so motivated to make something good happen that sometimes he gets a little ahead of himself. He’ll make tough plays.”
On the team starting 4-1: “I think it points to that fact, to this point, that we’ve taken advantage of a favorable schedule. All of these wins are very good wins. These are all quality teams.”
On how Collison can expand his game: “The biggest thing that he needs to do for us to expand himself is to keep his motor running all the time. I pulled him in the second because he slowed down. That’s the only reason. He slowed down and he stopped pushing the ball. He stopped putting defensive pressure out there. So much of any team feeds off the energy and the personality of the point guard. Categorically, he’s not a real talkative, verbal or loud type of guy, but he has strong leadership characteristics. If his body language isn’t right, I’ve got to pull him out and let him know. When I got him back in there, he was great. That’s where it is. He’s got the skill, great knowledge of the game. He’s into winning. He has a better feel for the guys around him than a lot of so-called experts think. It’s work to keep the tempo going the way we’re trying to do it.”
Mayo as a facilitator: “He’s made great strides as a playmaker because his recognition is improving all the time. He’s making aggressive plays under control. His vision is getting better by the game. That’s a big plus for both us and him…We need him to continue to do that.”
Winning without Brand and Marion: “Yeah I thought early we did a good job. It was a little up and down with shot making tonight. It wasn’t as consistent as it has been the last couple of home games, but the most important thing is digging out the win in the end.”
On playing extended minutes right now: “I get tired. I’m dragging a little bit and my defense shows…I should be better than that and that will be able to help my team improve defensively. Each little thing I can do will make it that much better. My rebounding is a little bit slow. I’m trying to figure that up and pick that up a little bit.”
Biggest takeaway through five games: “Well I think our bench is deep. Bernard James came in today and gave us a big lift at the 4 and 5 spot. We’ve got guys picking up where guys are injured so it’s been a full team effort. We’re on a little bit of a roll and we’re just going to try to keep it going.”
On what the team can gain without Dirk on the floor: “Dirk is seeing that we have a solid team without him and that will just make us that much better in the long run when he comes back. We’ve been pretty successful shooting the ball and I think our defense is going to get better.”
On aggressive first quarters: “We have to hit first, we have to start early and we have to come out aggressive early. When we play catch up, I don’t think we’re built that way. We can fight our way back. We have a lot of competitors and are capable of coming back, but we don’t want to put ourselves in that position. We’ve done a great job of just coming out prepared and ready to play.”
On guys stepping up: “Everyone has to step up and do a little more since we have some guys out. Our bigs were great on the boards. We didn’t have wowing numbers on the glass but at the same time we were very effective. Our guards did a good job of coming back and help to rebound. Bernard James was outstanding on the glass and gave us a lot of extra possessions and he was a key factor toward our win especially in the first half.”
On his performance: “I feel pretty good. I made a couple of mistakes in regards to footwork. I’m a work in progress. We’re going to keep working and keep getting better.”
On the change with rebounding: “I think they’ve put an emphasis on the rebounding the last couple of days. I think that shift in mindset is starting to catch up with the team as far as us actually going out there and executing.”
On adapting to the NBA pace: “I’m getting comfortable with it. The first couple of games, I wasn’t really there. I couldn’t really figure out how I needed to play. I’m starting to learn now and I was able to get a pretty good game in tonight.”
The message conveyed with the team winning without Brand and Marion: “It says a lot about Mark [Cuban] and the coaches on how they built this team. That’s exactly what we were built for. Guys can go down and we can still survive and get the job done without. It’s really just business as usual.”
On adapting to be double-teamed more now: “We have a good team. There’s no problem giving it up and trusting other guys to make plays.”
On the 4-1 start: “It’s good. It’s definitely positive for us. We just have to pull it together. We’ve put in a lot of work so it’s expected on our end.”
On what it says that the team has a 4-1 start: “It says a lot. It tells you that we’ve got a lot of guys that can do so many things. When Dirk, Shawn and those guys get back, they’re going to be a big, major addition for us. I’m proud of the guys stepping up and making plays.”
On the flow offense: “I like it. It gives us the freedom to just play the game. You don’t want to just go out there and over-think every possession. Sometimes when we call plays, he’s telling us just to play. That’s what you want to hear from your coach. I think that’s why our offense has been having so much success.”
On keeping his motor going: “It’s essential. Coach always tells me that I’ve got to be the motor to this team. If my motor’s not there, then the team’s motor not there. He took me out for a split second to tell me that. It’s important and he’s right. Whenever my motor is there, we have a lot of good things coming out.”
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.