Dallas Mavericks 111, Atlanta Hawks 103: Abridged

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 27, 2010 under Recaps | 7 Comments to Read

Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images.

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Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity.
-Bo Bennett

  • That’s two huge wins this week, each arguably the greatest of the season. But while the win over L.A. on Wednesday was notable for the quality of the opponent and the in-conference ramifications, this victory goes down as not only the most spectacular Mavs win of the season, but a true candidate for game of the season.
  • Jason Kidd’s (19 points, 16 rebounds, 17 assists) performance was dominant. It’s rare that we get to see Kidd put on a show of such direct magnificence, but his fingerprints were all over just about every big play Dallas made in the fourth quarter and in overtime. It wasn’t just a perfectly placed feed to Dirk in the post; Kidd flooded the endgame with highlight reel assists, clutch shooting, and incredible work on the glass. The shocking thing: the numbers look good, but it’s possible that the tape looks even better. He was that good.
  • Then again, the numbers are rather impressive. Not only were Kidd’s box score totals impressive in their own right, but they’re even more so if you dig a bit deeper. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Kidd was responsible for 56 of the Mavs’ 111 total points, and 27 of 34 in the fourth quarter. Nice.
  • For some historical perspective: only three players in the three-point era have put up a 15-point, 15-rebound, 15-assist game? Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Jason Kidd. Kidd was actually the last to accomplish the feat, as he put up a 21-16-16 game with Dallas in 1996. Tonight’s 19-16-17 game makes Kidd only the second player to do it twice, with Magic being the other. And FYI, Shaquille O’Neal once completed the 15+ trifecta, although by registering over 15 points, 15 rebounds, and 15 blocks. Or more specifically, 24 points, 28 rebounds, and 15 blocks. Not bad, right? (Hat tip to Tyler for hitting the record books.)
  • This game was quite the roller coaster, with each team going on some pretty significant runs to completely change the outlook of the game. The Mavs started out strong, but the Hawks took the lead behind a 6-0 run. Then Dallas opened up a 16-0 run to close the first quarter behind some hot shooting and great defense. Atlanta rattled off two separate 9-0 runs to pull within striking range in the second, before Dallas closed 7-0 to take back the lead. The Hawks owned the third quarter, outscoring the Mavs 26-15, largely behind the power of a mid-quarter 13-2 run. The Mavs trailed by as many as 15 points in the fourth, but outscored the Hawks 28-13 over the final eight minutes of regulation. And then they went into overtime.
  • The play of the game has to be Jason Kidd’s incredibly bizarre decision to draw a technical foul…on Hawks head coach Mike Woodson.

    Strange to be sure, but it was quite the heady play and something that most players (Kidd included, in most scenarios) would never think to do. If Woodson’s on the court, he’s fair game — especially when the opposing team is pushing the ball in a transition situation. Now, was Woodson on the court? I’ll leave that debate up to you guys. He definitely made an attempt to slide past the sideline to avoid Kidd, but Jason’s path was still blocked (thanks to an extended left arm) by Woodson. Either way, Woodson was assessed a technical foul, and what was a two-point deficit with 1:37 left in regulation was cut in half. The game eventually went into overtime; you shouldn’t need me to tell you how huge that one point was.

  • There was a near-footnote in yesterday’s game preview about the Hawks’ ability to switch on every pick. In some situations it makes a ton of sense; Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford, Marvin Williams, Jamal Crawford, and Maurice Evans are all capable, mobile defenders that can cover a variety of positions. But the Mavs’ late-game strategy was a direct exploitation of that philosophy. Dallas ran the two man game with Dirk and whichever guard was matched up with Mike Bibby. Once Bibby was switched onto Dirk, the Mavs isolated him at the top of the key — a move which necessitates an Atlanta double-team. If the double came slowly or not at all, Dirk got a great look from one of his most comfortable spots on the floor. If the double did come (the double man was typically Josh Smith, who was originally matched up with Dirk), Nowitzki quickly passed the ball out to the open guard on the perimeter, who was met with a wide open three or an assist opportunity to the shooter in the corner. It worked like a charm, and the Hawks refused to adjust.
  • Dirk (37 points, 15-26 FG, nine rebounds, four assists) had a terrific night, and won’t get the credit he deserves because of the way Kidd stole the show. But it was Nowitzki’s shooting that jump-started the Mavs in the first, his play that facilitated the offense in the fourth, and his points that iced the game in overtime. How sick is it that Nowitzki can put up 37 and still not make the headlines? Part of that is Kidd playing at an out-of-this-world level, but it’s also because this is what we expect from Dirk. Maybe not 37 night-in and night-out, but that level of efficiency, and those types of plays. This is a truly phenomenal player that we have the privilege of watching on almost a nightly basis.
  • J.J. Barea also deserves a bit of praise, despite the fact that he didn’t contribute much in terms of scoring. But Barea’s presence on the court skewed the match-ups in favor of the Mavs, as Rick Carlisle leaned heavily on the three-guard lineup. Kidd, Barea, Terry, Nowitzki, and Haywood played the games final 13:22. Barea only had four points on 2-of-5 shooting over that span, but he had three assists to just one turnover (despite Jason Kidd having seven assists in the same stretch) and played wonderful defense on Joe Johnson. Yes, I said J.J. Barea on Joe Johnson.
  • Barea on Johnson is very, very far from an ideal match-up, and would never be Carlisle’s first choice in normal man-to-man situations. But when he decided to close the fourth quarter using the zone, Rick was clearly willing to embrace the possibility that J.J. would be exploited defensively (something we saw Golden State do against Barea in the zone earlier in the season). To his credit, Barea not only contested Joe Johnson’s shot attempts without fouling, but bodied him up and made Johnson’s life quite difficult. Joe had zero points in the fourth quarter and in overtime, despite scoring 27 in the first three quarters.
  • The zone was effective on pretty much every front, though. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Atlanta shot just 1-for-9 from the field against Dallas’ zone. That might have something to do with how effectively Dallas played to finish regulation.
  • More great all-around play from Brendan Haywood (11 points, 5-6 FG, 11 rebounds, four assists, three blocks), who can pretty much do no wrong at this point. Haywood had five offensive rebounds to boot, and made two huge buckets during the Mavs’ comeback rally. At this point, he can essentially do no wrong.
  • Josh Smith’s line also goes down in the “Incredibly awesome, but completely obscured by Jason Kidd” category: 18 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, seven steals. Crazy good.
  • In the battle of Sixth Man of the Year candidates (not quite the same as an MVP match-up, eh?), Jason Terry scored 17 points on 50% shooting with six assists and Jamal Crawford scored 18 points on 31.3% shooting with four assists. The two are certainly comparable, and though Crawford is having a nice season in the perfect role for his ability and skill set, the numbers between the two are strikingly similar.
  • Shawn Marion’s first quarter deserves mention, mostly because he went 5-for-5 in the frame and was finishing with some serious authority. The Mavs were great in transition throughout the game, and Marion’s ability to convert layups and throw down some huge dunks was a big part of that.
  • That’s six wins in a row, which is the Mavs’ longest winning streak of the season and the longest active streak in the NBA. Boosh.
  • Cynthia

    OMG. Here I was thinking that the win against the Lakers was the most awesome game the MAVS have played this year….and then this game comes along. OMG. Absolutely incredible performances by Kidd and Dirk. Jason “Mr Triple Double” Kidd not only willed the MAVS to win but absolutely made it happen. And don’t you just love it how “some” of the media and ALL of the Hawks fans are calling him a jerk for making the play (on Woodson) that they only wish that someone on their team had the savvy to do? Dirk was otherworldly. 37 points on 15 of 26 shooting? Who does that? Oh yeah, that’s right…the UBERMAN does. The Jet was on the runway yet again…going to the basket AND hitting 3s. Brendon “Double Double” Haywood is an awesome center and I (like every other MFFL) am just thrilled his on our team. And it’s really really nice to see JJ play so well. In this game his presence on the floor only helped the cause. Who knew the little guy was so capable of guarding someone like Joe Johnson? And it was damn nice to see the Matrix throwing it down with authority.
    Ok, so now….THIS was the best game this season (so far)…because I have a feeling this team have got even more games like this in them.
    GO MAVS!!!

  • http://basketballforbeginners.blogspot.com BJ

    He was. He saw Kidd coming and got out of the way, but Coach Woodson was on the field of play. Kidd is a Mad Motherfcuking Genius; he just made the refs notice. I think Coach Carlisle better watch his toes for a while in case some idiot tries the same schtick against the Mavs.

    Never mind the bollocks, here come the Mavericks.

  • preet

    i really like how we are starting to get into gear for a good run down the stretch. the trade just looks better after each game

  • phil

    Like Cynthia said, every MFFL HAD to absolutely love this game! great intensity, playoff-gameish game and General Kidd who (with Dirk) saved our day. Still, if there would have been a second overtime, Josh Smith could have had a quadruple double, WOW…
    By the way, there has to be a second (or third) “Star of the Night” for Coach Carlslie. 3 Guard lineup plus Dirk and Haywood plus probably the longest stretch of zone defense this year – great!!

    To sum it up:
    outplayed
    outhustled
    OUTCOACHED

  • finzent

    I agree about the coaching. Often the small lineup is pretty nerve-racking, but today it really worked out great.

    Woodson looked pretty bad down the stretch, though. About 10 minutes of going against the zone (with Barea!) and he doesn’t come up with anything? And no timeouts during the Mavs run? It’s impressive what he has achieved with that team, but coaching-wise, he doesn’t look too great (although I don’t watch that many Hawks games, so that might have been just an outlier).

  • Cynthia

    Finzent…I was wondering too why Woodson didn’t ever take a timeout. Didn’t make a lick of sense to me. But then again, I don’t really care that he didn’t because I loved our mojo during the runs and timeouts sometimes disrupt those. But if I were a Hawks fan I’d be steaming. Just one more example in that game why Phil was dead on about being outcoached.

  • Blaine

    I got to see the first half before I had to go pull a guard shift. It was nice to see the transition game MUCH improved from the Lakers game.
    I can’t wait to leave Iraq so I can watch more basketball….I’ll be home just in time for the playoffs.