Dallas Mavericks 110, Oklahoma City Thunder 108

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 28, 2009 under Recaps | 6 Comments to Read

Photo by Tim Heitman/NBAE via Getty Images.

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“Ambivalence is a wonderful tune to dance to. It has a rhythm all its own.
-Erica Jong

To say that last night’s game has me drowning in ambivalence would be an understatement.  Wins just don’t get more bittersweet.

The call with the Mavs has been to play defense when it matters, and they did just that.  Down the stretch, the team came up with big stop after big stop to not only come back from 12 down, but to keep the Thunder at bay.  Credit that to Carlisle’s unabashed use of the zone, which turned OKC’s lineup of non-shooters into turnover machines.  Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green picked up the slack in a big way, but their work wasn’t easy.  Are Westbrook and Green elite scorers?  Not exactly, but when players get hot (or in this case, aggressive in their efforts to get to the line), the general measures of defensive success are bent ever so slightly.  I’m not thrilled that Westbrook scored 14 or that Green scored 7 in overtime, but I’m definitely pleased with the significant ruckus the Mavs’ defense was able to raise.

That’s not to say that the defensive effort was complete.  There’s a distinct reason that the Thunder turned a 5 point deficit into a 12 point lead, and it’s not solely because the Maverick offense went cold.  The Thunder should have no business taking the Mavs to task on the offensive end without Kevin Durant, even with a parade to the charity stripe.

There are games where Jason Kidd’s lack of scoring is a significant deadweight.  This was not one of those games.  Kidd was far from an offensive dynamo in terms of his scoring output, but I’m not at all displeased with what he did for the Mavs’ offense.  When the double-teams tried to curtail Dirk (who finished with 41 and was the Clutchotron 5000), Kidd was the principal influence on the Mavs ability to move the ball to the open man (either directly or through the ‘hockey assist’).  He came up big with two huge threes and went 4/4 on some crucial free throws (imagine that!).  Ballin’.

But where were Josh Howard and Antoine Wright?  Two of the crucial cogs in the post-Terrian Dallas attack?  They were there.  That’s about it.  Howard was plagued by foul trouble and bothered by Thabo Sefolosha.  His recent uptick in defensive activity was counterbalanced by a few extra whistles.  In spite of all that, Howard was +19 for the game, good for best on the team.  Wright on the other hand, was out of the game for the entirety of the fourth and overtime.  He wasn’t hitting his shots, but Wright wasn’t exactly terrible; his drop-off can be largely attributed to a Maverick surge behind Kidd and Barea in the backcourt.

James Singleton is a monster.  That is all.

Dirk scores 41, but the offense was hardly a well-oiled machine.  The Mavs defense gets stops late, but allows the Durant-less Thunder to push them to the limit.  The Mavs went off on a 16-0 run to avoid disaster, but still nearly blew it against an inferior team missing their best player.  Hey, if they gave us definitive answers and consistent play, they just wouldn’t be the Mavs.

GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT: The Gold Star of the Night goes to none other than Dirk Nowitzki.  41 points (16-30) is always tasty, but Dirk did a great job of shooting and deferring at all the right moments for all the right reasons.  Welcome back, Dirk.

  • Charles

    I thought you would pick Dirk for the Gold Star, but James wouldn’t have been a bad choice either. The team was lethargic in the middle of that fourth quarter and James was the cure. Wouldn’t have went into overtime without him.

  • wacc_attack

    Still trying to figure out James, and still trying to figure out if it’s now officially ok to get my hopes up. He’s played well in a few games already, but I always thought he would fade against more stern competiton than the Wizards, Knicks, or Kings. But then he was one of the very few, if not the only, bright spots against San Antonio. And then, like Charles said, he bridged a decent portion of the gap between Dirk of the 1st half and the Dirk we needed late in the 4th. Is he finally that guy we needed? An aggressive inside the paint machine who grabs boards left and right, hustles for loose balls, blocks shots, and is able to finish offensive rebounds with authority? At times, he definitely seems like it. Like the piece says, at times he looks like a monster. I hope he comes through for the rest of the season for us and proves he is one. He definitely more than deserves all the minutes he is getting, and I hope to see more of him. Looking back at the painful meltdowns against both Boston and Houston, I wonder if those would have turned into Ws we so desperately need if James “Pitbull” Singleton was out on the court to give us a spark and a few extra boards.

  • http://www.thetwomangame.com Rob Mahoney

    Singleton would certainly deserve the GSotN, but when in doubt, err on the side of 41 points.

    Singleton is exactly what we’ve known to be the perfect complement to Dirk. The only problem is that he’s about 3 inches too short. Could you even begin to imagine the strides this team would make if they started a Dampier/Singleton lovechild? (Or even the old body-switch routine?)

  • wacc_attack

    only problem with that is that if J-Single was 3″ taller he would be a total baller, would never have had to play in Spain, and prob. wouldnt be on our team

  • http://www.thetwomangame.com Rob Mahoney

    The beauty of the catch-22.

  • Michael Wu

    MY KD!!!