Where's It At? Good can be much better

On Thursdays, we check the team's temperature while keeping an eye on the big picture to see if we like the way it looks in the frame.

It's of little surprise that Dallas dispatched Wednesday of a New Jersey Nets team that redefines struggling. Dallas scored 77 in the first half on 81 percent shooting. That's not a bit -- .806, my peoples.

And honestly, I feel like we learned nothing. Halfway through the third quarter I forgot the game was on while I was watching it. So we will ignore the game that confirmed New Jersey's place in the annals of ineptitude.

But what we do know is that despite their numerous injuries, the Mavericks head into their Beale Street BBQ Boogie against the Grizzlies on Friday with a chance to be a .750 team a quarter of the way through the season.

That’s good for second place in the Western Conference behind a Lakers team that honestly and truly looks invincible. But nobody is celebrating. The record is great -- but the play has to get better, and there's every reason to believe that it will.

As we noted earlier in the week, it's a difficult task to identify if the Mavericks are forging their identity when so many essential components of that ultimate personality are rocking fashionable blazers come tip as they nurse injuries.

And that’s why the record is so important. Everyone has obstacles they have to overcome. These Mavericks are still winning while they deal. If you weren't playing your best in November, it won’t matter later in the season. But piling up losses will. And these Mavericks are for the most part taking care of business and probably will against Memphis if their road pattern continues. Right Elvis?

We’ll check back in a week -- and it could be same song, second verse, on the injury front. Josh Howard and Quinton Ross may still be in stylish duds on the bench, and Shawn Marion may still be limping below the rim. But if the Mavs are either 16-6 or 17-5 after "measuring stick" games hosting Hotlanta and Phoenix, we'll be talking about the same thing. How "good" will this team with a "great" record be when they're able to play the way they want to?

And that’s where it's at.