For many years, I've passively watched the Mavericks from afar. I enjoyed the stylings of Dirk Nowitzki and his clumsy, one-footed turnaround jumper, the rantings of Mark Cuban's syphilitic brain, and the coaching genius of Rick Carlisle. But it wasn't until 2011, when I moved to Dallas, that I really started paying attention. Chandler, the Matrix, Kidd, Jet, The Janitor were all easy to cheer for, but it was Dirk that surprised me the most. Dirk was so much more than an awkward German. He was this:
A likable team and a title run have an effect on a person. I will admit to getting caught up in Mavs fever, buying Dirk t-shirts, and shoveling hard earned money into Cuban's pockets. When the Wolves are employing Darko, Anthony Randolph, and Beasley on their way to 17 wins, it's easy to fall into distraction.
That was two seasons ago. When I turned on League Pass last night and saw the current Mavs makeup, there was little that I recognized. Chandler was long gone. As was Jet and Kidd. Dirk and the Marion were there, but following the Love/Rubio rehab route. It was a completely different team and not in a good way.
Needless to say, the Wolves have transitioned as well. The giant, steamy turd of a team from 2010/2011 has almost completely turned over. Love, Pek, and Ridnour are all that remain. But, while Dallas has replaced the players from their title team with former stars (Vince Carter, Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, OJ Mayo, Tory Murphy??), Minnesota chose to bring in players that hustle, pass, play defense, and occasionally score. So when the entire starting lineup succumbs to injury, we still have a team that cares and plays hard through the adversity (Yes, I am aware of my extreme homerism).
A couple of notes from the game:
-I have no idea how we won, or how we were ahead by 8-10 points for most of the game. We had five players in double digits (Luke, Pek, AK, Dante, Alexey) to Dallas' three (Mayo, Collison, Kaman). I kept watching Wolves' turnovers, thinking "God, we are playing awful" and then was reminded by the scoreboard that we were up by double digits.
-Our defense might be really solid. Dallas shot 36% for the game. There were a few open, undefended threes in the first half, but I can't remember all that many in the second. We had 17 turnovers, but managed to recover pretty well on the defensive end.
-We outrebounded Dallas by 14 (42 to 28) with Love looking dapper on the sidelines. Kirilenko, aided by his winged demon tattoo and sheer hustle, brought down 11. Dante and Luke both had 8.
-Derrick Williams. Oh Lion. How I wish you were better. With so many injuries, it's your time to shine. Or at least show some sort of progression. Despite starting the game, you were left on the bench at the start of the third quarter. Adelman is locking up the cage and you're not even putting up a fight. I thought the monster dunk in the first half was a sign of things to come, but it lead to turnovers and poor decisions rather than a breakout game. You're better than that Flipper.
-Injuries are no fun, injuries hurt someone. In this case it was the tumbling of the Pektropolis, tripping over Vince Carter or his own feet on the way down the court. A twisted ankle may not keep him out for three months like some other Wolves (hello Chase), but with a guy that has a history of ankle problems, it's probably not the best sign. The pure joy of a win was significantly dampened by the loss of the big man. Optimistically, he may be back by Friday night against Golden State. Realistically, it will probably be next Wednesday against Denver.
That's it for this installment. 5-2 after 7, even with everyone healthy and on board, would be a fantastic start. With the d-league team that we have, this is amazing. We all need to believe in fairies for the next two months and hope that Adelman and the poo poo platter can hold this together.