The Mayo & Kaman show got some help from a few friends as head coach Rick Carlisle went “big” for a change with both Kaman and Brandan Wright in the fourth quarter, fighting off a Philadelphia 76ers comeback and leading the Dallas Mavericks to a 107-100 victory.
With Elton Brand out of the lineup nursing a groin injury and Derek Fisher going down with a knee injury, Carlisle went away from the “small ball” with a small lineup he’s been using in crunch time lately and opted for his most productive post players with great success.
Philadelphia’s Dorrell Wright almost single-handedly kept the 76ers in the game hitting 7-13 from downtown for 25 points total to keep the game close. Spencer Hawes tied a season high with 18 points and added 7 rebounds. The 76ers played without leading scorer Jrue Holiday who has been the team’s best player while waiting for Andrew Bynum to return.
As O. J. Mayo goes, so go the Mavericks and he had an outstanding all-around game. Mayo led all scorers with 26 plus 8 assists. 3 rebounds and 3 steals while only committing 2 turnovers. But Mayo also had help…
The Mavs shot 54% as a team. Brandan Wright hit 3 big baskets and grabbed 5 rebounds early in the 4th quarter and finished with 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting plus 6 boards and a steal in only 17 minutes.
When Kaman returned to the game he poured in 8 points, the most he’s scored in the 4th quarter this season and finished with 20 points and 7 rebounds.
Shawn Marion did his usual yeoman work with 14 points and 9 rebounds. The Matrix also reached the 16,000 point milestone and became only the 5th player in NBA history to do so along with 9000 rebounds and 1500 steals to join a small but elite group that includes only Karl Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kevin Garnett and Charles Barkley.
The Mavericks continued to fall short on rebounding 40-35. When you shoot that well it tends to cover up the shortage under the glass but this is still a major concern for the Mavericks who, like any other team, will not shoot 54% every night.
It’s too soon to tell if Carlisle has found a long-term solution but with Wright and Kaman effective late, the Mavs found something that worked at the end of the game where small ball has been failing. The simple fact is that these two have the highest field goal percentage on the team and there has to be some value in having them participate in the final period.
Teams who live and die by the outside shot without a post presence are destined to have cold shooting nights more often and the Mavericks need to make generous use of the players with a strong inside game, which includes Kaman and Wright and hopefully can also include Brand again sometime soon.
With Fisher and Brand both out of the lineup, this was an encouraging win and showcased the potential inside-outside potential this team has which can conceivably be devastating when Dirk returns.
Things get tougher for the Mavs as they start to face some of the league’s top teams, starting with the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.