The Dallas Mavericks hosted their first annual “Mavstoberfest” event and open scrimmage with about 3,000 fans in attendance at the American Airlines Center.
Dirk Nowtizki, who practiced Friday after having his right knee drained, joined center Chris Kaman to lead the White squad alongside against Elton Brand, Vince Carter and the Blue team. In what could be either an indictment of the starters or a great sign of incredible bench play to come, the Blue reserves defeated the White starters 33-27, the final score for the one quarter of play.
The game’s real meaning, however, was likely twofold: first, to give the hometown fans their first look at the newly revamped team and and the first signs of hope after an early first-round exit officially ended the Mavericks reign as champions and second, to give a quick look as to how Dirk is doing with his knee in questionable condition.
After a victory against Berlin that included 26 turnovers and a poor shooting performance in a loss to Barcelona, the team clearly has work to do. Addressing the teams #1 concern other than Dirk’s knee, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle commented “The thing that I’m liking is that we’re getting a little more accustomed to how to play a flow game with a new group of guys. It’s a daily challenge for us.”
The bench players did shine, especially reserve big man Brandan Wright, who has been battling with injury again in the preseason but is full of optimism coming off a year when he finally began to show promise as a former lottery pick, adding “We put [last year] in the past. It’s pretty much a whole new team. Half the team, pretty much.”
Wright put on a show with his above-the-rim abilities with an impressive showing Saturday night while playing with a strained quad suffered on Day 2 of training camp. On the first play of the scrimmage, he took a lob pass off the backboard from Dominique Jones and threw it down with a two-handed dunk. “I had no clue it was coming,” said Wright of the pass. “He just threw it up, and I bailed him out. I didn’t know he was going to throw it off the backboard.” Wright had 11 points in what was essentially one quarter of action.
With Roddy Beaubois sitting out with a sprained left angle and O.J. Mayo on the bench after slicing his hand during a fall on a flight of stairs, Jones and Josh Akognon made the most of their opportunities. ESPN’s Jeff “Skin” Wade reported Jones played “a prominent role and he did a great job breaking down the defense for the Blue squad and consistently getting in the lane for feeds to Brandan Wright.”
Observers again praised Akognon, the surprise hot shooting dynamo who came to camp with a non-guaranteed contract.
New Mavericks Chris Kaman and Darren Collison continued to show what they bring to the team, scoring on the block and pushing the tempo, respectively.
“I thought it was pretty good for this kind of a scrimmage,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We had a good practice beforehand, and we’ve got to work on getting better every day and get acclimated with each other. The thing I’m liking is we’re getting a little more accustomed to playing a flow game with a new group of guys. We’re taking incremental baby steps, which is natural.”
The Mavericks will have their preseason opener at the American Airlines Center when Jeremy Lin and the Houston Rockets come to town Monday, October 15th. The game will air on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets for the game are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS or by visiting Mavs.com.