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Thursday, March 10, 2011
Rapid React: Mavs 127, Knicks 109

By Tim MacMahon

How it happened: It’s probably not a coincidence that the Mavs played perhaps their most dominant half of the season less than 24 hours after coach Rick Carlisle called his team the most offensive four-letter word in the NBA.

There certainly wasn’t anything soft about the Mavs’ performance in the first two quarters, when they set a season high for points in a half (72), kicked the Knicks’ butts on the boards (25-14) and played pretty suffocating defense (34.2 field-goal percentage allowed) while roaring to a 21-point lead.

Folks who have watched the Mavs all season weren’t surprised that the Knicks managed to make it somewhat interesting, but at least the Mavs never let their lead get in jeopardy. Amare Stoudemire scoring 24 of his 36 points in the second half, but New York never got closer than 11 points.

Nobody deserves more credit for displaying guts and grit than Shawn Marion, who played an awesome all-around game a night after taking a ribs-hurting tumble into a cameraman, courtesy of a flagrant foul by New Orleans’ Marco Bellineli. Marion had 22 points (10-of-15 shooting) and eight rebounds in 29 minutes and helped harass Carmelo Anthony into an off night (18 points on 5-of-15 shooting).

Marion was one of three Mavs who scored more than 20 points, joining Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry as they continued a trend of beautiful offensive basketball that was interrupted by a rough road trip.

Five Mavs scored in double figures, including backup big man Brendan Haywood (12 points, eight rebounds), who came up huge with Tyson Chandler saddled with foul trouble.

The Mavs ended up with their most points in a game all season, a heck of a way to recover from a sickening loss the previous night.

What it means: The Mavs guaranteed that they’ll hang on to the West’s second seed at least until next week. The win combined with the Lakers’ loss in Miami gives the Mavs a 1 -game lead over LA, so the Mavs have an opportunity to get a firm grasp on the No. 2 spot on Saturday night. This victory was also huge from a psychological perspective, as the Mavs bounced back from a horrific loss less with a convincing win over a quality opponent less than 24 hours later.

Play of the game: A sloppy pass by Dirk Nowitzki midway through the third quarter looked like it’d lead to a breakaway opportunity for New York’s Landry Fields before Jason Kidd swooped in and swiped the ball from the rookie near the sideline. Kidd quickly flashed his Hall of Fame awareness, firing a 35-foot bullet to Brendan Haywood under the bucket before falling out of bounds. Haywood finished with an uncontested two-hand flush.

Stat of the night: Back-to-backs don’t bother the Mavs despite all the old legs on the roster. They’re 11-4 in the second night, a winning percentage of .733.