Remember that fast little mexican rat from those Saturday morning cartoons? The Mavericks have a speedy little rat of thier own, this one from Puerto Rico. Speedy JJ came big for the Mavs last night, and he did it in front of the sold out AAC crowd, a crowd that also included his parents. With just a minute to play and the Mavs down 2, Eric Gordon missed a relatively easy baseline jumper. The Mavs scooped up the rebound and took off down to the other end of the floor with not one fan in the stands seated. JJ Barea caught the ball on the left wing perimeter wide open, and without any hesitation, heaved up a three-pointer. Nothing but net, and the Mavs had their first and only lead. That would be the last made basket, as the Mavs got the crucial defensive stops they needed to get the win.
Speedy JJ's three concluded a comeback from 14 down that took place with a small-ball lineup of all small-ball lineups. Rick Carlisle decided to use JJ, Kidd, and Jet all together in the final 4 minutes. We haven't seen a lineup like this from Rick Carlisle in not just this season, but never in his entire coaching career. The shots wouldn't stop falling for the Clippers, so Rick decided to go small and insitute a 2-3 zone defense for the closing minutes. It had to be encouraging for the Mavs to have every single assistant coach standing and shouting out defensive schemes during the fourth quarter comeback.
While Dirk's numbers were, well, Dirk-like (29 points and 10 boards), what got the win for the Mavs was the play from the bench. Barea wasn't the only one who rose to the occasion with the absence of Antoine Wright, Stack, and J-Ho. Shawne Williams got legitimate playing time (18 points) and showed his defensive prowess and boxing out skills. In the final quarter, Carlisle put his trust into not his two centers, but instead Brandon Bass. Bass was 6-for-8 from the floor with 14 points and 7 rebounds. Barea's clutch three-pointer was not his only shining moment, as Speedy JJ finished the game with 15 points and 6 assists in 25 whole minutes of action.
The biggest bench player, and arguably the MVP of the game, was none other than Jason Terry. Clutch shot after clutch shot happened for the Jet in the final quarter, which has become a trend during this Mavs run of winning 6 of their last 7. Terry scored 26 points, seven in the fourth, and is now averaging 22 points per game over the last seven games. And he’s scored 46 points in the last four fourth quarters. He has been HUGE lately and the Mavs now have a winning record because of it.
Things looked bad at the beginning of this season, as the Mavs quickly feel to 2-7. Now? The Mavs have a winning record, are just 2 games back from first in the division, and the next 6 games are at home. By Christmas Day, the Mavs could be all the way in the lead of the division they once finished first in just 2 short seasons ago. This run of winning 6 of the last 7 games have shown a high amount of emotion and will that hasn't been seen by this Dallas team in quite some time.
WIERDEST STAT OF THE NIGHT: The fact that Jason Kidd had 0 points. I didn't even realize this until looking at the box score after the game. However, Jason Kidd did everything else, as he had 8 assists and 7 boards (5 of them offensive). He was only credited with 4 steals, but he caused at least 8 turnovers with his defense.
Another weird stat was the fact that Devean George was given the start. I realize Josh Howard is injured, but is George really the best option at SF? He has not shown me anything that deserves a starting spot, and I doubt it's any different within the Mavs coaching staff.
While their record says otherwise, this LA Clippers team is on the rise. The recent acquisition of Zach Randolph has given this team a new kind of swagger, and it took quite a comeback from Dallas to get the win. We will see if the Mavs get off to a better start Thursday night as they host the Phoenix Suns.