As Dirk Nowitzki‘s All-Star contemporary Kobe Bryant looks to the sunset, the big man in Big D is pushing the Mavericks back up the hill. (Dirk and Kobe are both 37.) No team had more drama than the Mavs this off-season, as DeAndre Jordan opted to stay in LA at the midnight hour and Monta Ellis absconded for Indianapolis. But the Mavs and head coach Rick Carlisle have an organization, and a philosophy, that has persevered — and is thriving. The addition of Wesley Matthews, who owner Mark Cuban praised as “exactly the type of player we want in a Mavs uniform,” has paid dividends, including nailing three straight threes to bring the Mavs back against the Trailblazers on Tuesday night. Matthews finished with 18.
The other big off-season acquisition for the Mavs is Deron Williams, who has added defensive intensity to his repertoire and who looks to be playing on rejuvenated legs since leaving the Brooklyn Nets. Williams scored 30 on 11-of-17 shooting and Dirk added 28 as Dallas beat the Blazers 115-112 in OT. The Mavs are 11-8, and only the Warriors and Spurs look clearly better in the early going than Rick Carlisle’s club.