Dallas Mavericks Impress In 111-95 Opening Night Victory Over Phoenix Suns
Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports

Opening night between the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns displayed a lot of new faces in new places but one familiar face was Phoenix Suns center Tyson Chandler, who took on his former team in the Arizona Desert.

The Phoenix Suns entered the matchup coming off a 4-2 pre-season while the Dallas Mavericks were coming off a 0-7 winless pre-season and many questions concerning health revolving multiple players. Wesley Matthews has been recovering from a torn Achilles he suffered in mid-March, Chandler Parsons is still nursing a knee injury while Deron Williams missed almost all of pre-season and training camp due to a left calf injury.

While Chandler Parsons was deemed inactive for the Mavs, Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews were both in the starting lineup for the Mavericks, along with Raymond Felton, Dirk Nowitzki and Zaza Pachulia at the center position.

Deron Williams made his presence felt early on, scoring eight of the Mavericks first 11 points, including two three-pointers, and giving the Mavs an early 11-7 lead with 7:48 in the first quarter. The Mavs got an early break as Tyson Chandler picked up two quick fouls halfway through the quarter. Suns forward Jon Leur hit a jumper at the buzzer to make it Mavs with a 24-22 edge after the first quarter.

Jon Leur would get the ball rolling for the Suns early in the second, but it was Charlie Villanueva for the Mavs off the bench that would light a spark with his perimeter shooting. Charlie hit a flamethrower three from deep and followed up with a driving floater midway through the second quarter and helped give the Mavs a 54-45 lead at halftime.

Deron Williams and Charlie Villanueva led the Mavericks in scoring with 10 points apiece in the first half. The Mavs offense was clicking early on as they shot 43.6 percent in the first half, outshooting the Suns who only shot 33.3 percent. Wesley Matthews led the Mavericks defensive tone and really made it hard on the Suns offensive flow. Dallas forced Phoenix into 10 first half turnovers.

To start the second half, Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle made it a priority to get Dirk Nowitzki the ball early after only playing 11 minutes and scoring two points in the first half. Nowitzki hit a mid-range jumper right out the gate before he and Wesley Matthews connected on back-to-back threes to help ignite an 11-1 Dallas run. It pushed the Mavs lead to 19 points and forced the Suns to take an early timeout.

Then the Mavericks got their first big scare of the regular season as Deron Williams collided knees with Eric Bledsoe and went down grabbing his left knee in pain. He limped back to the locker room with 7:36 remaining in the third quarter. It was then determined to be a left knee contusion, and he was designated as probable to return.

Williams indeed returned late in the third quarter and helped lift the Mavs to a 27-point lead and an 88-66 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

In fourth quarter, the Phoenix Suns went on a little run to cut the lead to 14 with about nine minutes left in the game. Not soon after that the Mavs most unsung hero, Raymond Felton, stepped up and helped close the game out. Felton hit a couple threes, including a dagger three-pointer from the wing to push the lead to 108-80 late in the quarter. Mavs rookie Justin Anderson entered the frame late and scored the last basket to make the final score 111-95.

Raymond Felton led all scorers with 18 points on 7 of 14 shooting while also grabbing four boards and dishing out six assists. Dirk Nowitzki scored 11 points and pulled down nine rebounds, while Dwight Powell contributed 12 points and six boards himself off the bench. One of the bigger storylines of this game was the play of Zaza Pachulia who recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Pachulia only shot 2 of 10 from the floor, but his defense on Tyson Chandler and activity in the passing game was a pleasant surprise for this Dallas team.

The Mavericks defense was most impressive in this game as they forced 18 turnovers and held the Phoenix Suns to 39.1 percent shooting while the Mavs themselves shot 47.1 percent.

With so many new faces up and down the roster, this was a most impressive victory by the Dallas Mavericks, and it speaks to just how great a coach Rick Carlisle is, certainly one of the best in the business.

Rick Carlisle, in the process, has now tied Donnie Nelson for the most wins in Dallas Mavericks history with 339 wins on his resume. The Mavs will have a chance to give Carlisle his 340th win Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers in what should be a highly anticipated one considering what occurred with the Mavericks and DeAndre Jordan this past summer.