Mavs Midweek Donuts: Winning at Mile High (Even When You're Low)

Mavs Midweek Donuts: On Winning in The Mile High City (Even When You're Low)
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DONUT 1: B-2-B CHALLENGE Back-to-backs in the NBA are among the schedule-makers greatest challenges. But so is life as a visiting team in the Mile High City, where last season the title-contending Denver Nuggets finished 34-7.

The Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday accepted and overcame the challenge, recording a 109-106 upset while moving to 3-1 on the young season. (Matt Galatzan's game story here.)

DONUT 2: QUOTABLE “You always want a situation where you’re rested, and if you’ve got to catch a break with the other team playing (the night before), that’s always a break on paper,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “But you’ve got to make it a break in reality on the floor.”

The Mavs were in Denver waiting for the Nuggets, who on Monday were in Sacramento moving to 3-0 ... but then traveling into the night to get home, Mavs.com noting that the Nuggets didn't arrive back in town until 3 a.m.

There was Dallas' break ... and Dallas' reality.

DONUT 3: LESS THAN YOUR BEST The Mavs' accomplishments here in digging out of a second-half 11-point deficit are topped, I think, by Dallas doing its business at the Pepsi Center with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis playing at a level shy of their best.

Doncic and Porzingis were stellar in most every way in Dallas' first four games, but here struggled offensively, combining for 22 points on 7-of-26 from the field.

DONUT 4: ENTER 'BENCH MOB' How to deal with that downer? Rely on the Mavs' "Bench Mob'' to pick up the scoring ... and pretty much everything else.

Dallas' second unit was big in the fourth quarter and big overall, and combined with the Non-Big-2 Guys had nine players scoring in double figures. Add 'em up: 14 each for Maxi Kleber and Tim Hardaway Jr., 12 each for Luka, Dorian Finney-Smith and Delon Wright (along with six assists), 11 for KP (with 14 rebounds) and Jalen Brunson (with eight assists) and 10 for Seth Curry and Justin Jackson.

In the topper Fish Report Video, I ponder the "problem'' of not having a "third-best player.'' ... And the Mavs' supporting cast laughs at my pondering.

Dallas finished with 61 bench points ... to just 22 for the Nuggets.

DONUT 5: THAT STUPID RULE It also helped that the same ridiculous new rule that screwed the Mavs out of a potential win over the Blazers in Game 4 benefited Dallas here, as a Jamal Murray bucket that put the Nuggets up 108-107 with 1:05 left was challenged by Carlisle and reversed by the officials, who ruled that Kleber had blocked Murray’s shot.

You wish to celebrate because the refs "got it right''? OK. But remember: The stupid rule giveth and the stupid rule taketh away, I guess.

DONUT 6: BY THE NUMBERS The Mavs are 2-0 on the road for the first time since 2010-11. ... and they are 3-1 for the first time since 2014-15.

DONUT 7: DWIGHT IN FLIGHT Dwight Powell made his season debut after missing all of preseason and the first week of the regular season with a hamstring strain.

Powell finished with four points and four boards in 14 minutes, with contributions including this lob dunk, and praise from the coach about his importance to what Dallas does.

DONUT 8: LINEUP TINKERING Our man Dalton Trigg pretty much nailed it before the Mavs-Nuggets game ...

Rick's Chemistry Set obviously made the trip, with the rest of the luggage, to Denver.

DONUT 9: FIX SOMETHING! Dallas, which missed nine free throws in the loss to Portland, was 14-of-24 here. That's 58.3 percent. That won't ever work. Except, I guess, this once.

DONUT 10 OH, ABOUT LUKA No, it wasn't his night.

Until the end. When it had to be.

DONUT 11: WHAT'S ON TAP The Mavs "want to be a brotherhood, and we proved we are that,'' said Kleber, and we're buyers here.

The Brotherhood will gear up next for a visit from another West contender in the LeBron/AD-led Lakers, a Friday 8:30 tip at the AAC. And yeah, DallasBasketball.com will look for you there!

DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD “This is a top-level team with great coaching and great depth,” Carlisle said of the Nuggets. “They’re well-equipped for the regular season and certainly last year in the playoffs showed where they are as a franchise.”

Maybe this win shows where Dallas - with an ability to take advantage of a break while overcoming being shy of being its best - is as a franchise as well.