Although seeing the reigning MVP back in a jersey and sneakers is certainly better than seeing him in a suit and a walking boot, he shot a mediocre 7 of 17 from the floor which seemed to indicate that he was either rusty, or still very much injured (which is more likely and would therefore make his appearance all the more ballsy). Nevertheless, Dirk willed his team to a victory, and perhaps a playoff seed, finishing with a decent total of 18 points in only 27 minutes of playing time, including a clutch 3 pointer in the middle of a 14-2 Mavs scoring run in the 4th quarter.
Um... Yes, you did hear me correctly, I did mean to say a 14-2 Mavs scoring run in the 4th quarter. Which should bring you to the real reason how the Mavs found a way to take a 1 game lead on the Golden State Warriors and a 2 game lead on the Denver Nuggets--DEFENSE. Yes, that would be the defense that seemed to have been traded away to the New Jersey Nets with Devin Harris because it really hasn't shown up since.
Now, I'm not saying that Jason Kidd's 17 assists (and wow, even 5 points), Josh Howard's 28 points (great performance, but still not showing up in the 4th quarter), and Jason Terry's 31 points (where has this been hiding all year, Jason?) weren't absolutely necessary, but everybody who has watched the Mavs this year knows that jump shots that rain in the 1st half go dry in the 2nd. What you can't win without is defense. Yes, defense.
The Mavs held the Warriors to only 86 points and took the ball away 15 times. But more importantly, for the first time in a long time, the Mavs decided that no matter what, tonight's Sports Center wasn't going to be filled with Baron Davis highlights, holding him to only 20 points with 6 turnovers, and no 3 pointers--and get this--only 1 for 5 from the floor in the 2nd half which included allowing him only one shot in the 4th quarter--which he missed!
Yes... You heard that right too, the Mavs held Baron Davis to NO 3's and NO made shots from the floor in the 4th quarter! Meaning, the Mavs won this game the same way they rolled through the Western Conference in both the '05-'06 season (except the finals--but we're not gonna go there) and the '06-'07 season (except round one of the playoffs--but we're not going there either), by closing out games in the 4th quarter with defense.
But like every other Mavs fan, I'm left looking at the remaining schedule and wondering, having watched this team play so much poor basketball this year, and the owner mortgage the future for old man river and a 12-10 record since (and if you want to be really underwhelmed check out the combined win-loss record of those teams they beat), I wonder what does this win even mean? And furthermore, would it have been better if the Mavs had lost this game, increasing their chances to miss the playoffs, returning the draft pick that was so easily treated as unimportant, causing the owner to save face, and giving the franchise and its fans some hope for the future?
Well, that's a topic for another blog.... Whatever this win means and doesn't mean will be determined in due time, but for now, the Mavs play defense, Dirk cowboys up, Terry and Howard brought their A-game, Kidd does what he was brought here to do, and the Mavs live to fight another day....