If the ‘new’ Mavs were birthed in the explosion that was the game against the Phoenix Suns, they met their first significant roadblock against the Hornets Sunday afternoon. For what it’s worth, they came up a bit short.
Worse things have happened. The numbers didn’t turn up in the Mavs’ favor, but the game was definitely acted as an extension of the new Mavs rather than a reversion to the old ways. When you win, you don’t always demonstrate progress, and when you progress, you don’t always win. The Mavs were within three points with a minute and a half to play, but James Posey made a smart pass on an out of control drive to set up Peja Stojakovic in the corner for a three (he was 1-7 on threes prior to the shot). It turned out well for New Orleans, kept the Mavs at arm’s length, and essentially sealed the game. I’m disappointed that the ball didn’t bounce the other way, but that doesn’t mean I’m at all displeased with the Mavs’ effort or overall performance.
No one wants to hear excuses at this point, but when your team isn’t in that upper echelon, they come with the territory. On the road, on the second game of a home-and-home in which the Mavs won the first game, on a night where nobody but Dirk was hitting whatsoever, with Chris Paul and David West both going insane offensively…and yet the game was very winnable. There were small leads both ways throughout the game, but both squads clawed back and forth for almost the entire game. Maybe you’d like to dig deeper and analyze why the Mavs didn’t gut it out, but I would think the 13-point difference in field goal percentage (42.5% for the Mavs, 55.6% for the Hornets) would make that painfully obvious. The Mavs matched the Hornets point-for-point in the paint (both teams ended with 40), but Dallas went 11 for 27 from midrange and 6 for 22 from three. Jason Kidd, Josh Howard, and Jason Terry combined to go 18 for 43. Enough said.
Chris Paul was every bit the dynamo that he was in the last contest, totalling 31 points, 17 assists, and 9 rebounds, not to mention 2 steals and a few three pointers. David West followed his ‘good, not great’ game on Friday with a ‘great, not just good’ night: 31 points (14-21 FG) and 6 boards. They abused the pick-and-roll/pick-and-pop, they abused the Mavs’ one on one defenders, and Chris Paul created for West and others out of the trap. Chris Paul already has his way with the defense, but when he and West are hitting practically everything they throw towards the rim, it’s going to take an inspired offensive effort from the Mavs to hang with them.
That there was: the Mavs had another excellent offensive rebounding night. What they lacked in that old-fashioned ability to put the ball in the damn basket, they made up for in positioning, timing, and craftiness. Kidd, Howard, Erick Dampier (who had 12 rebounds overall) and Brandon Bass created all kind of second looks for the Mavs, ultimately netting 18 second chance points for the good guys and posting an impressive 29.2% in offensive rebounding percentage. If you want a real reason (other than Dirk, who finished with 29 and 14) why the Mavs were able to hang around despite a miserable shooting night, look no further than the offensive rebounding column of your box score.
- The first quarter was awful. The Mavs scored 13 points and made just 5 shots in 23 attempts. Brandon Bass even missed a dunk.
- Bass had an otherwise commendable night, though. He played tough in the paint, finished strong at the rim, and scored 13 points on 6-9 shooting. He was the primary reason that Erick Dampier couldn’t get off the bench in the fourth quarter.
- Again, Chris Paul goes to the bench to start the second quarter, and the Mavs go on a 9-0 run until his return. That’s gotta suck.
GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT: The Gold Star of the Night goes to Dirk Nowitzki, who carried the Mavs’ offense in the second and third quarters. He only had 4 points in the fourth quarter, but Dirk’s full arsenal was on display with David West, James Posey, and others playing the victim.
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