I told you so.
Dirk Nowitzki sat out another game nursing his swollen knee but Monday night the Dallas Mavericks showed how they might become a solid team without him or an unexpectedly fantastic team with him as they easily handled the Houston Rockets in their home opener at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Trailing by one at the half, the Mavs broke out behind Jae Crowder’s 18 fourth-quarter points to run away from the Rockets 123-104.
Now admittedly, as mentioned in our preview, the Rockets are not only a very young team and like the Mavericks a newly assembled team, they were also playing without Jeremy Lin. Still, Coach Carlisle and Maverick fans got a taste of some terrific possibilities.
There was a whole of that, starting with rookie Jae Crowder, who many expected to add great energy and defense but not necessarily a lot of scoring. In just under fifteen minutes on the floor he lead the team with 20 points and demonstrated his jump shot including 4 of 7 from downtown. Joining Crowder was O. J. Mayo, lacerated hand and all, also hitting for 20. Vince Carter and Shawn Marion chipped in 15 points apiece in a well-rounded effort from young and old.
The rest of the team contributed in different ways. Chris Kaman only scored six points but had eleven rebounds and three blocked shots; Darren Collison had only eight points but also eight assists and two steals. Elton Brand quietly approached a double-double with ten points and eight rebounds and Brandan Wright also had ten points and five rebounds. Bernard James scored six points on three of four shooting and had six boards and a block as well in just over ten minutes on the floor.
The Mavs shot 52% and 43% from downtown. Overall a terrific team effort inside and outside.
Crowder was terrific everywhere but the free-throw line where he missed all five of his free throws #oops.
Roddy Beaubois did not play as he is still on the mend with an ankle injury and of course, all eyes are on Dirk who was expected to play but did not. Dirk practiced over the weekend and participated in the Mavstoberfest scrimmage but with additional swelling in his right knee, was held out again.
The plan will be for Dirk to rest the knee for an additional week and concentrate on conditioning rather than time on the floor in the hopes of avoiding surgery. The good news is that arthroscopic surgery early at this stage could give Dirk a chance to return early in the regular season, so all is not lost just yet.
For those rooting for longshot Josh Akognon, he did not see action in this game.
Multiple sources are repeating Chuck Cooperstein’s tweet stating Rick Carlisle has suspended Delonte West for “conduct detrimental to the team.” Mike Fisher is reporting that West apparently went on a somewhat colorful rant in the locker room after the game but more details are not yet forthcoming.
West is not new to off-the-court difficulties; he was suspended ten games by the NBA in 2010 after pleading guilty to a weapons related charge.
He has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and last year was fined for giving Gordon Hayward a “wet willie” last year.
Except for that one incident West’s tenure in Dallas has been relatively trouble-free and the Mavs proceeded to sign him for a second year this off-season.
We’ll report additional details as they become available.
The Mavericks will be at home again Wednesday night to face the new-look Phoenix Suns, who will visit Dallas without Steve Nash for the first time since he was a Maverick in 2004. The Suns are now led by point guard Goran Dragic, who returned to the Suns after a brief stint with the Rockets, and center Marcin Gortat.