“We live in the present, we dream of the future and we learn eternal truths from the past.”
-Madame Chiang Kai-Shek
It wasn’t a blow-out, but that was some kind of victory. Err, at least I think it was.
Again, my duties as a full-time blogger and part-time intramural basketballer came into direct conflict, and the final IM game of the season prevented me from watching the second half. By now, you guys know the drill: fill in the blanks. What did the Mavs do to lockdown Roger Mason in the 2nd? It looks like Dampier played some swell defense on Duncan, but does the box score deceive me? What on earth got into Josh Howard?
Here are my thoughts from the footage of the game that I did actually see:
It wouldn’t be right if I started with anyone but Josh Howard (29 points, 10-15 FG, 4-5 3FG, 7 rebounds). He was grimacing notably in the first half as he trotted up and down the court, but his bum ankle didn’t prevent him from being assertive with his moves or consistent with his shooting stroke. Just the fact that he played sent a message, and going off for 12 straight Maverick points in the first quarter blared that message through a megaphone. The new-old Josh isn’t having a ‘coming-out party,’ (he’s been playing active, focused basketball for a few games now), but it’s good to reap the benefits of a flashback Josh performance against our old friends the Spurs.
Erick Dampier (9 points, 4 rebounds, 4 blocks) really does a great job of playing Tim Duncan (19 points, 7-21 FG, -10 [+/-]) on a regular basis. A team as thin up front as the Mavs is never going to come close to shackling Duncan, but going back to 2006 Damp’s efforts have been admirable. Sometimes it looks like he’s not aggressive, but in truth, Damp employs a combination of solid fundamental defense, brute strength, and a conscious desire to avoid putting Duncan on the foul line. Dampier finished with 4 blocks for the night, and though the defense didn’t pick up until after the first quarter, it was a great effort…from my understanding.
Roger Mason. My goodness. There was a point in the first half where I wasn’t worried about Tim Duncan or Tony Parker, but how on earth the Mavs were going to stop the pick-and-pop with Kurt Thomas and Roger Mason. I wish I were kidding. Dirk, Brandon Bass, and Jason Terry were all doing a miserable job on that front defensively, and Mason and Thomas just would not miss their midrange looks. Credit to Rick Carlisle; the defensive execution improved dramatically out of seemingly every timeout. The rotations improved, screens were hedged, and all seemed right with the world. That said, I’d like to see a better defensive effort from Jason Terry. The way Roger Mason used and abused him in the first 2 quarters is inexcusable, and if that’s the way he’s going to play Manu Ginobili, we wouldn’t stand a chance.
Thank you, Jason Kidd. We all know that you’re not going to stop Tony Parker, and you probably won’t even come close. But if you can produce like you did last night against the better point guards of the league (17 points, 6-10 FG, 3-5 3FG, 9 assists, 7 rebounds), the effects of your counterpart’s production are softened. Parker did score 37 points, but that 37 points is less meaningful than if Kidd had another 6-4-5 night.
GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT: The Gold Star of the Night goes to…Dirk Nowitzki? Erick Dampier? Jason Kidd? Josh Howard? Rick Carlisle? Aww hell, this one goes to everyone. A great team effort to pull out a close win against a good Spurs team, and a great momentum-builder going into New Orleans tonight.