“You don’t mind the rain if you haven’t seen the sunshine.”
Kidd hit 10,000 assists. Jason Terry returned. The James Singleton tour rages on. Let the good times roll.
For one night, not much went wrong in the world of the Mavericks. Unless you’re J.J. Barea, who ended up -8 in point differential and -2 in teeth on the night.
Photo by Mike Stone/Reuters (via DMN Mavs Blog).
Chris Bosh posed a lot of problems for the Mavs, but that’s bound to happen. Dampier just isn’t mobile enough to keep up with him, and Brandon Bass/James Singleton lose in height what they make up in speed. The results on that front were fairly predictable: 28 and 10 for Bosh, and early foul trouble for the aforementioned Mavs. To their credit, Bosh shot just a hair under 50% and didn’t really explode. 28 points is great production, but surprisingly manageable given the Mavs’ offensive explosion and the Raptors’ lack thereof.
I’m sure you know by now that basketball is a “game of runs.” To be perfectly frank, I don’t expect the Mavs to come remotely close to locking teams down; the foundation just isn’t there. Instead, the key is to appreciate stretches of successful defense and a team-wide ability to counter offensive runs. Any success the Mavs are going to have in the playoffs is based on their ability to endure and strike back. If they roll with the punches and land some of their own, they’ll be just fine. Otherwise, they just stand there taking hit after hit to the kisser and forget that they control their own destiny in their hands. The Raptors are far from a great team, and their laundry list of problems runs much longer than ours. Still, the Mavs answered virtually every Raptor run with one of their own, and capped off their offensive explosions with some nice D. An ideal turnout against a less than ideal opponent, but we’ll take it.
Of course it doesn’t hurt when the Mavs coaxed the Raptors into 37.4% shooting on jumper after jumper. The defense was active and effective, but the Raps didn’t help their cause last night.
Jason Kidd may have totalled 10,000 career assists, but that milestone came in a game where he actually showed some assertiveness. He did the usual Kidd thing, firing passes all over the court at angles no one else even knew existed, but he also refused to pass up layups and open shots. He finished with 9 points and just 7 shot attempts, but I promise I’m not crazy. One of the most infuriating things to watch is a point guard penetrate all the way to the rim but defer to a jumpshooter. Kidd and Boston’s Rajon Rondo are the league’s primary culprits, and it’s just one of the examples wherein unselfishness can be a detriment. I appreciate the effort and the thought process, Jason, but you’ve beaten your man. Just finish the job, eh?
Great success for Maverick shooting guards. Antoine Wright decided that Jason Terry ain’t got nothin’ on him, and went off for 14 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists in the first half alone. Beautiful. His 9ish second half minutes wouldn’t even come close to matching that production, but Wright’s line on the night was still enough to get me smiling. Jason Terry looked surprisingly un-Jason Terry-like in the box score (8 points, 3-9 shooting), but he’s back man. Baby steps. The dude was out there wearing a Power Glove. I’m glad to see #31 back on the floor and that purty jumper, even if it is errant and forced for a few more games. Missed you, JET.
What can be said about James Singleton (12 points, 16 friggin’ rebounds…8 of which were offensive) that hasn’t already been said about the Incredible Hulk? Singleton may not have a few bad movies and a completely overrated late 70s television series that has the benefit of the vintage lens to his name, but if you’re a Maverick opponent, you’re not going to like him when he’s angry. Lucky for Mavs fans, he plays like he’s angry all the time. Singleton is rebounding like a maniac, active as hell, and trying to tear down the rim with dunks on fast breaks and dead balls alike. While I lament the fact that he’s three inches short of being our ideal center, I applaud his energy, skill, and intensity.
Lost in Singleton’s meteoric rise up the Maverick depth chart has been Brandon Bass. He’s getting fewer and fewer minutes at center, but Sunday night was an excellent reminder that the man can still ball. He’s still a tad turnover-happy, but his finishing ability is pretty superb, and when he doesn’t finish on his first attempt he’s almost always in position to give it a second go. Stay within yourself, young squire, and I will love you forever.
Can you believe I’ve gotten this far without even a mention of Dirk Nowitzki or Josh Howard? Dirk only had 24 points (8-19 FG), 10 rebounds, and 5 assists. Yawn. His typical brilliance was trumped only by his usual subtlty, ‘invisibly’ anchoring the Mavs’ attack. (On another note: why is the word invisible always used as a pejorative when it comes to basketball? There’s something wonderful about blunt domination, but I can see the advantages of killing an opponent without them knowing they’re being killed.) Howard continues to boggle the mind. His 16 points tells you he did fine on the offensive end, which is true. But 0 steals and 0 blocks? Just another example of the deception of the box score. The team continues to excel whenever Howard hits the floor, and his somewhat empty statline is balanced by a +15 for the game. Well done, chaps.
As someone who has watched Dirk’s entire career, I feel obligated to comment on Andrea Bargnani. Dirk was the hopeful projection when Toronto drafted Bargs with the 1st overall pick, and it’s kind of silly. It’s not that Bargnani isn’t talented, or that he doesn’t have some of Dirk’s skills. Their approaches to the game are just fundamentally different. Dirk’s ungodly efficiency is a product of a natural high ground, a high release, and a sweet shooting stroke. What he lacks in athleticism and mobility he makes up for in footwork and precision. Bargnani doesn’t share Dirk’s dominant shooting touch, as much as he loves to shoot. But he does show a willingness and an ability to drive and finish, which is something in it’s own right. He’s 23 and has all the time in the world, but for those still hoping to see Dirk 2.0, keep this in mind: Nowitzki is the exception, not the rule. There has never been a player that combined Dirk’s size and shooting touch, and it may not be so soon before we see another. Bargnani still has work to do (rebounding might be a point of emphasis), and I think he’ll turn out to be a swell player. He’s only 23 after all. But don’t be all that surprised to see plenty more 18-points-on-18-shots games.
Things are looking good for the Mavs lately. That means we’re primed for a loss, right?
GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT: The Gold Star of the Night goes to James Singleton. I’ve denied him his proper due for far too long, and he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse with a sick 8 offensive rebounds and 8 defensive rebounds. Encore!