Dallas Mavericks 99, Sacramento Kings 91: Abridged

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 3, 2010 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images.

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A really great talent finds its happiness in execution.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

  • Last night, the Mavs treated the basketball court as a place of business. They were ruthless and relentless in their offense (pushing the ball upcourt against the Kings’ weak transition defense is almost cruel), and smart and decisive with their defense. The final margin is ultimately pretty deceptive, as Dallas was thoroughly dominant in the second half…with the exception of the final, irrelevant three minutes, in which the Kings rattled off an 11-0 run. But this was a very effective game in terms of gameplanning and execution, and though wins over the Kings aren’t typically hung on the refrigerator, this one was nice.
  • Tyreke Evans (14 points, 6-18 FG, 5 rebounds, six assists) is a beast, and the focal point of Sacramento’s offense. As such, the Mavs employed a lot of zone and help schemes specifically designed to counter Evans’ driving ability. It certainly worked, as ‘Reke wasn’t given any space to charge down the lane and was forced into taking a lot of contested runners and long jumpers. That’s a successful night of taking away the other team’s primary offensive option, even if the Kings aren’t considered an elite offensive team (though it’s worth noting that they are a respectable 13th in the league in offensive efficiency).
  • The Maverick defense also did an excellent job of forcing turnovers during critical runs in the second and third quarters. Most were forced either directly (the Mavs had 11 steals to the Kings’ 16 turnovers) or indirectly (quick rotations, aggressive on-ball defense) by the Mavs, which is a defensive area in which Dallas typically struggles. The Mavs have done an excellent job this year of keeping their opponents’ efficiency, shooting percentages, and free throw attempts down, but they’ve never quite figured out how to bump up their opponents’ respective turnover rates. The Kings’ turnover numbers (both raw and rate) on the night are not all that impressive for Dallas, but over a two quarter stretch, the Mavs were very effective in both forcing turnovers and capitalizing on them.
  • I’m not sure what kind of rehabilitation program Jason Kidd (14 points, 6-7 FG, 2-2 3FG, seven assists, three steals) has done for his layups, but it’s working. The man who seemed utterly incapable of making a shot attempt at the rim is suddenly wowing with his ability to finish, as evidenced by his flashy layup attempt with around four minutes remaining in the second quarter (video hopefully forthcoming).
  • Another disappointing game from Erick Dampier (two points, four rebounds, two turnovers), who was unable to match the energy of Jason Thompson (15 points, 7-15 FG, 10 rebounds. Enter Drew Gooden (eight points, 10 rebounds, two steals, two blocks). Drew wasn’t a compromise defensively like he has been in some games this season, and he was the game’s most dominant rebounder (his one-game total rebounding rate was 22.8, which more than doubled every other Maverick). The center position has been a bit of a give-and-take for the Mavs of late, which may be for the best; Dallas is best served having one effective center on a nightly basis rather than having both show up some nights and neither show up on others. Obviously it’s preferable that both Dampier and Gooden find ways to contribute effectively, but for now I’ll take Gooden as an insurance policy.
  • Dirk (25 points, 8-18 FG, seven rebounds) looked to regain a bit of his shooting form after missing a few early jumpshots. Credit Nowitzki getting to the rim and to the line, as nine of Dirk’s first 11 points came on dunks, layups, and free throws.
  • I like the Kings’ Donte Greene more than most, and I’m convinced he can be a legit NBA scorer on a consistent basis. But after watching Greene cover Dirk for stretches (and guard Kobe Bryant late in recent games between the Kings and Lakers, both of which ended tragically), I can’t help but think that Paul Westphal overestimates Greene’s current defensive abilities or has even fewer options than we realize. Greene has the potential to be an extremely versatile defender (he’s 6’11” and has started for the Kings at shooting guard), but man-up on Dirk? On Kobe? Really?
  • A completely nondescript night from Shawn Marion (six points, five rebounds, a block). Games like these are tough for Marion because the Kings don’t have an obvious wing threat (at least not currently; Kevin Martin remains on the shelf), which limits what Marion can do for the Mavs on the defensive end. And considering how well J.J. Barea (17 points, 7-13 FG, three assists, four turnovers) and Josh Howard (16 points, 6-13 FG, three rebounds, three assists) were playing, Marion was squeezed out and played just 27 minutes.
  • Now, some of you might read that above bullet point about the Kings’ wings, and scratch your head. Omri Casspi (22 points, 7-16 FG, 4-6 3FG, 11 rebounds, four assists) was absolutely swell, and positionally he should be matched up directly against Shawn Marion. But the Mavs opted to neutralize Evans rather than worry about the Kings’ three-point shooters. Casspi exploited that fact even if the rest of the Kings didn’t (without Casspi, the Kings shot just 2-14 from beyond the arc). It’s the risk you take when trying to stop a team’s most dominant offensive player, and though Omri played quite well, the Mavs can live with that.

Advanced box score data from HoopData.com.