The Rundown, Volume VIII

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on December 10, 2012 under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment

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The Rundown is back. Every Monday, The Rundown will chronicle the week that was for the Mavericks, as well as let you know what is coming up for the boys in blue, with a unique spin. Simply put, it is your Monday catch-up on all things with the Dallas Mavericks.

Don’t look now, but the Mavericks are actually on a win streak! The Mavericks are back at .500 and have won back-to-back games for the first time since early November. The start to the week wasn’t great, but Dallas handled their business on the road to finish it strong. The lone blemish for the week was quite gruesome, but the victories might have shed some light on some key situations for the team in order for them to be successful for the weeks ahead.

Did THAT Really Happen?

- The game against the Clippers felt like an in-game highlight package for the Clippers. They outscored Dallas 62-30 in fast break points. Dunk after dunk rained down on the head of the Mavericks and they simply just didn’t have an answer. Dallas needs to avoid getting into too many of these games where they are blown out of the water. There has been a culture of winning and success within the franchise since Dirk Nowitzki, Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson have been firmly entrenched in their respective positions. That culture has been a major attraction for players when they arrive in Dallas. The team can’t afford to let a culture of losing become acceptable. They have to fight back and respond when the times get tough.

- O.J. Mayo did his thing in the fourth quarter against the Phoenix Suns. Phoenix was able to create a comeback effort to get the scored tied at 87 with just under a minute to go, but Mayo saved the day with a clutch 21-foot jumper for points 22 and 23 of the evening for him. It was very good to see the Mavericks give Mayo the freedom to work in isolation in a crunch time situation. The Mavericks need an identity while Dirk Nowitzki is hurt, and Mayo’s versatility as a shooter, passer and scorer make him the ideal weapon to use in those situations.

- The win against the Suns did come at a price as both Shawn Marion and Chris Kaman were injured late in the game. Marion injured his right groin and Kaman turned his right ankle. Marion missed his sixth game of the year due to injury (he missed five games due to injury over the last two seasons). Kaman gutted it out during the game against Houston. It appeared he tweaked the ankle in the second quarter, but continued to play. Reports indicated that his ankle was a nice shade of purple after the game. We’ll have to see how he can respond going forward.

- Dallas had to use their 10th different starting lineup in the game against Houston. Through 20 games, the Mavericks have had a different lineup in half of the games. Rick Carlisle has said that it doesn’t matter who starts games, but I think it would be a major priority for him to build some continuity in terms of a starting lineup and rotation. That’s not to say that it’s entirely his fault that the team has had 10 different starting lineups. Injuries definitely deter the team from trying to build that continuity. It’s not just an issue for the Mavericks as injuries have been running rampant around the league. The Mavericks have to hope they’re getting this out of their system now and things will be back to normal for them once Dirk Nowitzki returns (whenever that will be).

Box Score Revelations

- New Maverick Derek Fisher totaled 15 points in his second game as a Maverick against the Clippers on 12/5. He scored 11 of his 15 points in the third quarter. It matched his season-high for the 2011-12 season (15, L.A. Lakers at Dallas, 2/22/12). While the Mavericks still try to figure out what Darren Collison can actually be, it’s good to know that Fisher can provide an influence on the team in the locker room as well as on the actual floor.

- In the say what department, Former Maverick Lamar Odom grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds and had four points, two steals and two assists in the Clippers’ victory over the Mavericks. Odom didn’t have a double-digit rebounding game during his brief time in Dallas during the 2011-12 season. Odom is clearly still a mess (did you see his botched layup attempt??), so it wasn’t good to see Odom literally stumble into a productive night against the Mavericks.

- Brandan Wright made a rare appearance in the game against the Phoenix Suns and delivered in a big way. Wright scored a season-high 16 points in 23 minutes against the Suns. Before the mop up duty action he got in Los Angeles the night before, Wright hadn’t played in the team’s previous three games. Prior to the game against Phoenix, Wright played a total of 47 minutes in the Mavericks’ previous 10 games (recorded 5 DNP-CDs in that span) before his 16-point effort at Phoenix on 12/6. It was his seventh double-figure scoring game of the season (he scored 10-plus points in each of Dallas’ first six games of the season: at L.A. Lakers 10/30-at New York 11/9). He started the game against the Houston Rockets and finished with eight points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Rick Carlisle might be giving Wright the Roddy Beaubois treatment from Roddy’s rookie year. The coach might be protecting Wright in certain situations and playing him in known situations where the athletic big man can thrive. It’ll be something to monitor going forward.

- Jae Crowder went 2-of-7 from the field in the game against the Houston Rockets. Crowder has gone 4-of-30 (13.3 percent) over his last five games. T0 say the rookie has hit a shooting slump or the rookie wall in terms of shooting would be an understatement. To his credit, he’s not letting it blend into the other facets of his game, and Rick Carlisle still likes the approach the rookie is bringing to the game. If Carlisle didn’t like the approach, Crowder wouldn’t be playing. The rookie just has to keep his head down and continue working, sticking to the process and things will turn back around.

Check Your Calendar

- The Mavericks will have a rare home game during this brutal run of road games as they host the Sacramento Kings on Monday night. This needs to be a momentum building game for the Mavericks as the Kings are one of the worst teams in the entire league. Outside of DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento doesn’t really have anything else in terms of a consistent threat. Despite two road wins, ff Dallas loses this game, there will be major questions that need to be answered.

- Dallas heads back out on the road for the rest of the week with the first stop in Boston. The Mavericks will get to see Jason Terry in Celtics green for the first time since Terry and the Mavericks parted ways during the offseason. The two teams have had some classic matchups over the last two seasons, with the Mavericks getting their share of come-from-behind victories. It will likely be an emotional evening, but this does present a game that is winnable for the Mavericks. Boston will be well-rested for the game as this will be their first game they play since their home-and-home matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.

- Dallas leaves Boston to head to Toronto to take on the Raptors on Friday evening. Toronto, like Sacramento, is one of the worst teams in the league. The Mavericks handled their business in shootout fashion when the Raptors came into Dallas on  11/7 with a 109-104 victory. This will be the first game of a back-to-back for the Mavericks. Every game on the road is a challenge, but a matchup against the Raptors should be one where the Mavericks can continue to fix their road woes.

- The week wraps up for Dallas as they finish up their back-to-back with a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minnesota on Saturday night. The Wolves recorded a 90-82 victory over the Mavericks in Dallas on 11/12. To date, the game against Minnesota provides the Mavericks with season low for points in a game and points in an opening quarter (17). The Wolves will have more ammunition on Saturday night as Kevin Love has returned to the team. He’s arguably the best power forward in the league, at the moment. He will present an issue in terms of his versatile scoring and relentless attack on the glass. This will also be the second night of a back-to-back for Minnesota as they play in New Orleans on Friday night.

BG’s Baller of the Week

Baller status has been granted to Sha…I was ready to give it Shawn Marion, but then he went down with his injury. The Mavericks need the Matrix to be healthy. Instead, baller status HAS to be granted to O.J. Mayo. His name is Ovinton J’Anthony, but you can call him Juice. Mayo is officially out of his shooting slump as he shot 50.9 percent from the field, 50.0 percent from 3-point range and averaged 24.7 points/game for the Mavericks during their three games last week.

The display he put on in Houston was nothing short of brilliant. He tied his career high with 40 points in the victory. You have to go back to 11/1/09 as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies to find Mayo’s other 40-point performance. The difference between that game and Saturday’s game was the fact his team won this time. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only one other Mavericks starting guard in the last 18 seasons has scored 40-plus points in a game: Michael Finley dropped 42 at Detroit on 11/27/02. Mayo totaled 30-plus points for the third time in Dallas’ first 20 games of the season. Before Mayo, no starting guard had even reached that plateau in a game for Dallas since Jason Terry on 2/8/10 (36 at Golden State). Mayo also became the first Maverick other than Dirk Nowitzki to score 40 points in a game since Rodrigue Beaubois tallied 40 off the bench at Golden State on 3/27/10. Simply put, Mayo put on a clinic in Houston. I promise, I’ll show myself out the door here in a bit.

The Mavericks have been trying to find an answer in terms of an identity while Dirk has been out. I firmly believe the jumper Mayo hit at the end of the Phoenix game triggered his career-tying night in Houston. Confidence is there for Mayo, and he’s taking control as the leader for the team as a scorer. He’s seventh in the league in scoring at 20.9 points/game and shooting 48.2 percent from the field and 52.3 percent from 3. With 20 games as a sample size, the idea of Mayo’s shooting being cute is becoming an afterthought and you might have to start considering him as being one of the more efficient shooters the league has this season. The anticipation continues to grow to see Mayo and Dirk on the floor together. It appears Mayo has stuck to his word and has been a relentless worker and become a strong leader for the team. Going back to when they lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Playoffs, the Mavericks wanted to find an option that could take the pressure off Dirk. It might not have been the name they wanted, but Mayo is doing everything in his power to be that man for the Mavericks.

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.