Ugly. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The Dallas Mavericks proved once again they can win against the Phoenix Suns without Dirk Nowitzki. Although Dirk actually played tonight, he was a non-factor. The Mavericks didn't need the big blond man as Vince Carter and Delonte West combined to shoot 10-13 from beyond the arc.

This was not a fun game to witness. The Mavericks were scorching all night long and held the Suns in check defensively converting their rare misses into buckets. With Steve Nash sitting, the Suns never had a chance tonight.

The Mavericks dropped 10 of 16 threes in the first two quarters, including 6 straight to end the half. Once again a former Sun did major damage. This time it was in the form of Vince Carter (cringe), who went for 15 points on 6-9 shooting, including three out four 3-pointers. The Suns were out rebounded 23-13, with the Mavericks scoring 15 second chance points. While the Suns looked decent from a numbers standpoint: 48% fg, 4-7 from beyond the arc, and only 5 turnovers, missing 5 of their last 6 shots to end the 2nd quarter left them down by 18 at the break.

Said Suns defensive guru, Elston Turner: "..We blew assignments and allowed too much dribble penetration..."

Sound familiar? Need to read any further?

In the second half, things got no better for the Suns. The Mavericks extended their lead to as many as 26. The Suns had a couple of late runs, but it was too late. Late enough for Robin Lopez to get playing time.

Duly Noted:

  • The Mavericks went 14-27 from beyond the arc and shot 55% overall
  • The Mavericks scored 20 points off of 10 offensive rebounds
  • The Mavericks outrebounded the Suns 44-33 and out dished the Suns 31-21
  • Former Suns Vince Carter and Shawn Marion went for 41 points and +36 combined
  • Marcin Gortat led the Suns with 17 and 10. Jared Dudley scored 15, and Grant Hill added 12.
  • Sebastian Telfair played well in garbage time. It would be nice if he played as confident when the game was close.
  • Josh Childress scored 9 points, grabbed 4 boards, and added 2 assists and 2 steals. It appears he's back in the rotation.

Quotes

Alvin Gentry

"They shot the heck out of the ball tonight...It's hard to play catchup against that team especially when they're locked in like they were...They force you to get into rotations...You gotta try and double Dirk...he opens up other guys and they shot the ball extremely well...Their 18th in the league in shooting and we forced them to make shots and they made them...You have to play the averages..."

On Josh Childress

'He's playing well. he's a true professional. He came every day and he worked...We gave him an opportunity and I think he did a great job."

Jared Dudley

"...We played really bad on defense tonight...they made us pay. They got hot early and they kept it going."

Depressing Thoughts:

  • Alvin Gentry sounded tired and somewhat apologetic of his players when commenting on this game. Without Steve Nash, the odds are stacked very high against the Suns this season. But tonight there was much talk about the defensive rotation, how helping out Grant Hill defend Dirk Nowitzki left the Mavericks with a lot of open shots. They just happened to hit those shots. Steve Nash most likely wouldn't have made much of a difference in defending the Mavericks onslaught tonight.
  • Gentry sounds rational, you play the averages. I get it. But maybe after two quarters when you give up 66 points you ditch the averages when you see it isn't working. What do you do to contain Dirk? On a normal day in a normal season I would have been more concerned about him. But this is not your normal Dirk whose averaging 17.1 ppg, his lowest average since his rookie year. This is tired Dirk. Dirk who had to take a week off because he was out of shape. Maybe you rough him up with Frye, Morris, and Warrick. That's 18 fouls you have to give. Then again Dirk's a decent free throw shooter.
  • Although I'm not much of a fan of Tom Chambers commentary, the guy seemed to disagree with Alvin Gentry: "You can't allow 55% from the field. You can't allow a team to shoot over 50% in threes." While Gentry seemed resigned at his team's defensive performance, Chambers had a different view as did Jared Dudley. Odd?
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Poll
Do You Think Alvin Gentry's Job is in Jeopardy?

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PHOENIX — Three Dallas players roasted the Phoenix Suns for 20 or more points, and the the Mavericks used the three-pointer to open up a lead that ended in a 122-99 blowout on Monday night. Led...

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Some notes from Gentry's office:

  • Nash won't go (but you knew that already). He couldn't "contract" or "push off". Price will start so we'll get to see Marcin Gortat in some different situations. Gentry said that if it were a playoff game Nash could have "gutted it out" so don't expect him out for long.
  • Gentry said key for Price is to not try and be Nash. Suns will run less pick and roll and more movement. Gentry compared Price backing up Nash to the QB for the Colts having to play behind Peyton Manning.
  • On Frye's poor shooting, Gentry said he's getting good shots and shooting with confidence. He just needs to keep at it.
  • Gentry said Jason Terry does not get enough credit for hitting big shots in clutch situations (he hit a big one lat night against the Spurs).
  • Gentry stressed that everyone knows there roles on this team. He wasn't asked about that but wanted to make sure we wrote it. Apparently someone, somewhere either wrote or said something about that. Whatever.
  • Gentry said he would like to lock down a nine-man rotation but the guys aren't playing consistently enough for him to do that.
  • Coach said the Suns were too slow initiating their zone offense against the Grizzlies. They need to get the ball moving earlier in the clock to create openings in the zone.
  • Oh, and remember when Shawn Marion hit a bunch of threes against the Suns when they last played and Dirk was..."injured"? Gentry said he's fine w/ Trix taking threes but we should remember that Shawn can make threes. He just hopes his players close out on him with a hand up.


PHOENIX — Steve Nash won’t be in the Phoenix Suns’ lineup on Monday against the Dallas Mavericks after suffering a left knee contusion on the final play of the last game. Nash ran...

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(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

[Note by Wil Cantrell, 01/30/12 5:48 PM MST ]

Per Paul Coro tweet: "Gentry just confirmed that Nash will not play tonight. Price likely will start."

Tonight, the Phoenix Suns are posed with the task of taking on the defending champion Dallas Mavericks at U.S. Airways Arena.

The Mavericks are coming off an overtime victory versus the Spurs last night as Jason Terry led the scoring with 34 points. While the Mavericks do not currently resemble the team that won the NBA Title a year ago, they are leading the Southwest Division, winners of four of their last five.

After giving their big man a four game break to "rest," Dirk Nowitzki has returned to the hardwood for the Mavs. Jason Kidd is out tonight with a sprained right calf.

And now, as a special treat to you, my faithful reader, Mavs Moneyball manager, Lisa Rotter was kind enough to answer some Maverick and Suns related questions, including their reasoning for allowing Vince Carter on the team.


WC: After a slow start, do you think the Mavs will again be title contenders?

LR: The team is still way too inconsistent to say with any certainty if they can make it to the finals again. I do think that Coach Carlisle is desperately trying to limit minutes for the older guys to keep them fresh when the playoffs roll around, but it's going to take some major gelling to be finals-ready. We definitely have the offensive pieces to be a contender again, but as you have all seen, it's taking more time for those pieces to fit in the puzzle than we anticipated.

WC: Why Vince Carter? Wasn't there anyone else out there the Mavs could have signed? Derek Harper? Jim Jackson maybe? Obviously we Suns fans have a nasty taste in our mouths from his performance last year.

LR: The Mavs fans were split on Carter when we heard he was coming. Many people assumed we'd be getting the Magic/Suns VC who would be useless and fail to fit in with the team. Then there were those of us (myself included) who gave him the benefit of the doubt and hoped we would get old school Raptors/Nets Vinsanity. Lo and behold, he has been contributing really well and really quickly. He was relatively cheap and doesn't necessarily have to be long term, so he was a low risk, high reward acquisition along the same lines of Lamar Odom and Delonte West. He's a veteran who has good basketball sense and has made an immediate impact.

WC: OK, let's get down to brass tacks here. Is there any desire among Mav fans and or perhaps the FO to bring back Steve Nash? If so, what do you think the Suns could obtain in return?

LR: For sentimentality's sake, Mavs fans will always wish for Nashty to come back. But the fact is, the direction of this team is such that taking on Nash to fill Kidd's eventual vacancy seems a bit redundant. Better to start looking for younger talent to take over when the old men of this team (Kidd, Terry, eventually Dirk) can no longer produce. Before the championship, the mentality was to find pieces that fit and give us an immediate shot at the title. Nash would have been one of those guys. Now that the Mavs are looking for long-term changes, he doesn't make as much sense.

WC: What are your thoughts on the Suns? If you were the Suns ownership and front office, would you trade Nash this season and begin the rebuild in earnest?

LR: If Nash is still producing at his high level, I see no reason to get rid of him just yet. It seems like the best results come when there's a transition period between the old and new. I am not personally fond of the overhaul tactic... I think it makes better sense to replace and start over a little bit at a time. It's always painful to watch your team struggle and the temptation to start from scratch is pretty strong, but patience is a virtue. Trust us on that one.

WC: As a Maverick fan, you had to deal with a few years of misery as Mark Cuban and Co. rebuilt the Mavs back into a contender. What advice do you have for Suns fans as we near the abyss?

See above... Be patient. Rome wasn't built in a day. And other such cliches. The Mavericks proved that once you have your centerpiece, all it takes is tweaking here and there to get the chemistry right before a deep run is possible.

WC: Bonus question: What's your prediction for tonight's contest? Sounds like both Nash and Kidd are out for this one.

LR: The Mavericks are doing better without Kidd at the moment. We are getting good burn from Beaubois and West, and Dirk had an abysmal night against the Spurs so he's about due for some improvement. I never predict scores, but I'm thinking that Dallas has a pretty good shot at this one, despite coming off an overtime win into a back-to-back.

Special thanks to the lovely Ms. Rotter. You can follow her on Mavs Moneyball and via twitter at http://www.twitter.com/LJRotter

Worth Pointing Out

  • As of 11.30 AM AZ time, Steve Nash is questionable for tonight's game. Obviously that puts a damper on thoughts of an upset over the Mavericks.
  • Will Robin Lopez ever suit up for the Suns again? Do we care? That guy isn't in the doghouse, he's in the friggin' pound.
  • In the last matchup vs. the Mavs, the Suns out-rebounded their opponent 52-42. Nevertheless, some timely 3's by Shawn Marion, coupled with 37% shooting doomed the Suns to a 93-87 defeat.
  • The Phoenix Suns are 6-4 when Jared Dudley scores in double figures. The Suns are 4-1 when Dudz scores more than 15 points.
  • In 36 games vs. the Suns, Jason Terry averages 17 ppg and shoots 41% from beyond the arc.
  • Dirk Nowitzki has played 50 games versus the Suns, averaging 23 ppg, 9 rebounds per game, while shooting over 40% from beyond the arc.

How Can the Suns Win Tonight?

Well, that's quite a question, now isn't it? Nash may be out for the Suns. But Kidd is out for the Mavs. Dirk is back for the Mavs, yet appeared a smidge rusty last night against the Spurs. The Mavs are playing a second night of back to backs after playing a good Spurs squad who took them to overtime before losing.

But none of that matters to the Suns, with the exception of Nash possibly missing this one. Nash is more important to the Suns than Kidd is to the Mavs. Dirk's crappy statistical evening against the Spurs most likely means he's going to light it up tonight...So it's the usual for the up and down Suns....PLAY D, REBOUND, COMPETE ON YOUR HOME COURT, oh and maybe shoot better than 30%, hit some 3's, limit the turnovers. Yeah, mostly things the Suns haven't done all season.

Yet anything is possible, right? Check out the Suns numbers. Just think if a few normally dependable players can reach career averages (yeah Channing, I'm thinking mostly of you):


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Marcin Gortat 19 31.4 6.6 11.8 56.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.6 2.6 61.2 2.4 7.6 10.1 0.8 1.5 0.6 1.6 2.2 14.8
Steve Nash 18 31.4 5.7 10.7 52.8 1.1 2.8 39.2 1.9 2.2 85.0 0.3 2.0 2.3 9.9 3.5 0.6 0.0 0.6 14.3
Jared Dudley 19 29.7 3.8 8.7 43.6 0.9 2.9 32.7 1.6 2.1 77.5 1.2 2.9 4.1 1.8 0.9 1.0 0.2 1.5 10.2
Grant Hill 18 26.8 3.7 9.5 39.2 0.3 1.3 21.7 1.7 1.9 88.2 0.6 3.1 3.7 1.4 1.6 0.7 0.8 1.8 9.4
Shannon Brown 18 21.3 3.6 9.1 39.0 0.8 2.5 31.1 1.5 1.8 81.8 0.5 1.6 2.1 0.9 1.2 1.0 0.1 1.3 9.4
Hakim Warrick 16 18.1 3.1 6.6 47.2 0.1 0.4 14.3 2.3 3.2 72.5 1.3 1.8 3.1 1.1 1.1 0.2 0.1 1.3 8.6
Markieff Morris 19 21.1 2.8 6.5 43.5 0.9 2.0 47.4 0.7 0.9 77.8 1.2 4.1 5.2 1.1 1.4 0.6 0.5 3.1 7.4
Channing Frye 19 21.6 2.6 7.4 35.0 1.1 3.6 30.4 0.5 0.6 81.8 1.1 4.7 5.8 1.0 1.0 0.5 0.7 2.3 6.7
Robin Lopez 17 14.2 1.6 3.5 47.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.5 2.1 74.3 1.1 2.2 3.3 0.4 0.8 0.1 0.6 2.5 4.8
Sebastian Telfair 13 11.3 1.4 4.8 28.6 0.5 1.2 37.5 1.2 1.4 83.3 0.2 0.8 1.1 0.9 0.8 0.7 0.0 1.5 4.4
Ronnie Price 19 16.7 1.6 4.0 39.5 0.5 1.5 35.7 0.6 0.7 84.6 0.6 1.1 1.7 2.3 1.4 1.1 0.2 2.3 4.3
Michael Redd 7 10.7 0.9 3.9 22.2 0.4 2.0 21.4 1.1 1.7 66.7 0.0 0.7 0.7 0.4 0.3 0.3 0.0 0.6 3.3
Josh Childress 7 11.4 0.9 2.4 35.3 0.1 1.1 12.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.7 1.0 1.7 0.6 0.1 0.4 0.3 0.6 1.9


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