Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 2/19/12

Cruise? What was I thinking, there was no cruising for the Dallas Mavericks in this game, except maybe the first couple of minutes in the first quarter, after that, it was scratch, claw and crawl almost, all the way to the end.

The number 24 has such a meaning to us in everyday life, as in 24 hours in a day, 24 carat gold, Jeff Gordon’s number on his race car, and now 24 means a lot to the Mavericks. Twenty-four is the number of points Dirk had in the second half of the game against the 76′ers and by chance, that’s the same amount of points the whole team had in the second half of their loss to Dallas. Now, I like that type of comparison.

Again, it’s brought up about the comment Charles Barkley made here a couple of weeks ago about him being washed up, Father Time creeping up on him; well, yes Father Time creeps up on us all, especially when you’re 7′, 33 years old and play constantly, but as was evident in Dallas’ game tonight, Father Time has not washed Dirk Nowitzki off the map, yet at all. So Mr. Barkley, comment on things you do know and leave Dirk out of it unless you’re extending an apology about your comment.

Dallas started the game off very well, looked in control, to some extent, and got off to a 6 point lead, then something happened and they couldn’t hit the side of a barn let alone a basket and before you knew it, they were down by 5 and at the end of the first quarter, Philadelphia had a 27-21 lead on the Mavericks and they looked in control and the Mavericks looked a little lost.

You can’t take anything away from Philly though; Coach Doug Collins has had them playing some very good basketball and this season they are one of the contenders, not one of the pretenders and look as if they could give some of the big Eastern Conference teams a run for their money come playoff time and they played like it here, until the second half, but we’ll get to that later.

For now, we’ll bask in their glory. At one point in the first half, Philadelphia was shooting 62% from the field and by the end of the half, they shot 46% and only had 1 turnover, Dallas shot 33% from the field and had 7 turnovers and Philly’s bench outscored Dallas’ bench 24-16. Of course Dallas was without 3 of their back up guards in JET, Roddy B and Delonte West, so that of course takes away a lot of your scoring from the bench.

Philadelphia leads the league in percentages on turnovers by only committing an average of 10.5 per game and it showed in their play in the first half as to why that is; they protected the ball and didn’t make silly mistakes that create turnovers and as I stated, they only had 1 before halftime. At the end of the first half, they also had a 14 point lead on Dallas 51-37 and I hope that Dallas was chomping at the bit as to how they were playing.

In the past, if Dallas was leading in the first half, they had little demons, gerbils, gremlins, whatever you wanted to call them to come visit the locker room during halftime and take away the powers of the Mavericks and they would have to fight more in the fourth quarter to get back in the game and try to pull of the victory. Well tonight it was the other way around. Dallas exorcised the demons as such during halftime and looked like they meant to come and play in the second half and play ball.

It was pretty bad when your basically, 4th string guard, Dominque Jones, was your leading scoring in the first half with 7 points and between Dirk and Shawn Marion, they were 3 of 8 and Dirk only had 4 points; now the second half of the game. One of the commentators at the end of the game made a comment, “a pro knows there are two halves of a game, and with an ugly first half, you have to make up for it in the second half” and Dallas, led by Dirk did.

Dallas got the ball at the start of the second half and the scoring started with only 1:10 gone in the quarter, Dirk scored on a basket and then Vince Carter got the ball, drove to the hoop, got a score and a foul for the three-point play. Marion, who had been struggling all night on offense, missed an open dunk on a break-away play and then a couple of possessions later, missed another dunk. But as a good player, he smiled because he knew that he had time to fix what had been going on all night long and he, like the rest of the Mavs, were not done yet, we still had plenty of time.

Philly finally scored their first points with 8:22 left in the third quarter, but Dallas was by no means done for the night. With 7:21 left in the third, Dirk got the ball at the top of the arc and let it rip for a three-pointer that brought Dallas within 6 points and Philly only had a 53-47 lead now and this was  part of a 10-2 run with Dirk scoring 7 of the 10 points because then he had another three that now put Dallas up 54-53 and sparked a total of a 17-2 run in a span of 7:18 span of the third quarter and Dallas ended the third quarter scoring 24 points and holding Philadelphia to only 8. Dirk scored 12 of the 24 Dallas points and was 5 of 6 from the field which included 2 three-pointers.

So as you can see, Dallas nor Dirk was done for the night. Philadelphia was not through for the night either as they made a game of it in the fourth quarter. But Dallas didn’t give up  and made Philly have to work for their points. With 9:12 left in the game, Philly got the game tied back at 63 each, but then Dallas went on another terror and extended their lead back to six and eventually got the 82-75 win.

Dallas was led by Dirk’s 28 points, but he also grabbed 12 rebounds and is still in need of that one block to put another notch on his accolade belt. Jones finished the night with 12 points, Carter had 10 and Jason Kidd threatened with a triple-double with 9 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, but he also had 2 steals and 1 block for the night, not bad for the old guy on the team.

Philadelphia was led by Nicola Vucevic with 16 points, Thaddeus Young had 14,  Louis Williams added 14 and AI had 10 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists.

Dallas finished the night shooting 38.3% from the field and connecting on 35.7% from behind the arc and shot 83.3% from the free throw line and led Philly in rebounding. Dallas also ended the night with 16 turnovers.

Philadelphia finished on 33.7% shooting from the field and 7.1% from behind the arc and 84.2% from the free throw line and had 8 turnovers.

The Mavericks defense was so good, after a while, that this was the 2nd lowest allowed points scored on them this season and they held the 76′ers to only shooting 22% in the third quarter on 9 of 42, after allowing them to shoot over 60% in the first half and Dallas themselves shot 47.6% in the third quarter alone, so not bad for one of the oldest teams in the league.

So now we take a little bit of rest and get ready for the New York Knicks and the “linsanity” of New York on Sunday afternoon. Now, as it has been in the past, sometimes Dallas does not play well on afternoon games, but let’s hope that this is not the case as we only have 2 more games before the All-Star break and we need to end this part of the season on a good note and continue the streak.

And with that I will bid y0u a good day and say good luck and let’s go Mavs!

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