Early in a baseball season, they say, "The pitching is ahead of the hitting.''
Similarly, early in this Dallas Mavericks season, the defense has been ahead of the offense.
But the metamorphosis continued Monday in Phoenix, as the defending champs' scoring vaulted ahead of everything including, as usual, the Suns, whose 124-99 loss marks an eighth straight defeat at the hands of Dallas.
"We have so many playmakers, so many guys who can put the ball in the hole," said Delonte West, who scored a season-high 25 for Dallas. "We just have to trust each other and that was on display tonight.''
Indeed, West's 9 of-12 shooting (including 5-of-6 from the arc) was just part of the barrage. Ex-Sun Vince Carter scored 21 for the second night in a row. Roddy Beaubois, subbing as the starting point guard while Jason Kidd sits out the week with a calf injury, registered seven assists, his third straight game of six or more. Another former Suns star, Shawn Marion, scored 20 and was the third Mav to reach that milestone a season first.
"I don't know if there is a pie chart for this," Rick Carlisle said after the game. "But when the ball touches a lot of people's hands, more shots tend to go in."
"We moved the ball well and made shots...and our defense was good enough to win."
Defense has been the foundation of the Mavs' 14-8 record, good for first place in the Southwest Division. But increasingly, the offense has come around and has largely done it without future Hall-of-Famers Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki playing at their peak.
Nowitzki started again, as he did in Sunday's OT win over San Antonio, after having worked out for a week without game action. He continues to round into form, going 4-of-10 for 10 points, four rebounds and four assists in 28 minutes.
But the Mavs are now 9-1 in games in which they don't have Kidd or Dirk. And the offense is coming...the Mavericks have scored 116, 101 and 122 in their last three games.
Dallas shot 55.2 percent overall and 51.9 percent (14-of-27) from beyond the arc, all part of a season-high 66 points in the first half. The Mavs closed the first half on a 20-7 run and closed out each of the four quarters with emphasis: Lamar Odom made a putback jumper before the buzzer to end the first, West scored to close both the second and third quarters, and Beaubois' alley-oop slam was the punctuation mark in the final minute of the final quarter.
Phoenix didn't have Steve Nash (thigh) and didn't have much else, either. Center Marcin Gortat (17 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks) was the only Suns player who seemed capable of playing at Dallas' level again, a common occurrence as the Mavs have beaten Phoenix three times this month and haven't lost to the Suns since January 2010.
The Mavs offense catches up with the Mavs defense. and the Suns cannot catch up with either.