The Mavs returned to Dallas Tuesday night after a heartbreaking road trip in which they dropped all three games, two of them in overtime. They faced the 12-12 Philadelphia 76ers, who were missing starting point guard Jrue Holiday and are struggling to win without him, as this was their 4 straight loss, 3 without Holiday. Dallas was also expected to be without their starting point guard Derek Fisher because of the flu, however Fisher showed some guts and gave it a go, only to strain his knee five minutes into the game. Fisher was able to walk off under his own power, however he would not return. He will be reevaluated on Wednesday. The Mavericks don’t expect the injury to be serious. Fisher had 2 points and an assist in his 5 minutes of play.
So with both teams missing their starting point guard for the majority of the game, Doug Collins as well as Rick Carlisle would have to utilize their bench more than usual, which would fair much better for the Mavs. Jrue Holiday is averaging 18 points a game and 9 assists this season, all-star type numbers. Nick Young would start in his place, who is a natural born shooting guard. Young scored 8 points in 24 minutes with 0 assists and Maalik Wayns who is also handling a lot of the point guard duties with Holiday out, added 3 points in 21 minutes, but did contribute 9 assists.
Evan Turner, who has dramatically improved his game relative to his first two seasons, shoveled most of the load offensively for Philadelphia, with a lot of help from the 8-year veteran Dorell Wright, who lead Philly with 25 points off the bench and went 7-13 from long range after missing badly on his first two attempts. The Mavs turned to their former starting point guard Darren Collison to log serious minutes and lead them to victory. Collison had 12 points and 2 assists in his 31 minutes, and only turned the ball over once. Dominique Jones also contributed with Fisher in the locker room. If your a Mavs fan you have to like the fact you can have both of those guys coming off the bench with young, fresh legs to replace the 38 year old Fisher. Playing 30 plus minutes isn’t new to Collison, and if he can remain aggressive, without turning the ball over, he should see more playing time late in games.
Elton Brand missed the game with a strained right groin and Brandan Wright proved once again that his offensive game is constantly improving and if he can work a little harder on the defensive glass, should be a nice young piece to this team moving forward. B-Wright had 10 points and 6 boards in 17 minutes. Shawn Marion had 14 points and 9 rebounds, 1 rebound shy of his fourth straight double double. More importantly, the Matrix became only the fifth player in NBA history to record 16,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, and 1,500 steals. The other four? Karl Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kevin Garnett, and Charles Barkley. Pretty elite company. The Mavericks were led by their two center pieces Chris Kaman and O.J Mayo, who clearly didn’t want to drop another close game and fall to three games under .500. The duo made key baskets late in the fourth quarter to hold off the 76ers, who fought hard until the buzzer.
Mayo led all scorers with 26 points, and continued to be efficient from three point range going 2-2. He still leads the league in three point percentage. Mayo added 8 assists and 3 rebounds and 3 steals. Kaman reached 20 points for only the fifth time this season. He also grabbed 7 rebounds. Kaman displayed his entire offensive game, knocking down that mid range jumper and also putting it on the floor and taking it to the rim. The Mavs only turned the ball over 11 times and gave up 14 offensive rebounds, two statistical areas you could point to on pretty much every Maverick loss. The offense seemed to flow very nice, even with Fisher out. If Mayo can continue his offensive output and Kaman can take some of the pressure off of Mayo with performances like Tuesday night, look for Dallas to be one of the best offensive teams in the Western Conference when Dirk returns.
The Mavs are now 12-13, 10th place in the West. They face a tough stretch the next couple weeks. Their next game is at home against the champion Miami Heat on Thursday, after that Dallas goes to Memphis, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City, then return home for a game against Denver and San Antonio again.
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