Dallas Mavericks 83, Portland Trailblazers 77: Abridged

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 10, 2010 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images.

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No object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly.”
-Oscar Wilde

  • This was a hideous game. The Mavs and Blazers are both top 10 teams in offensive efficiency, and yet last night neither team could score at a rate higher than 95.4 points per 100 possessions. Dallas shot .338 from the field compared to Portland’s .364 and won. Erick Dampier and Eddie Najera were the only Mavs to at least 50% from the field, and both went 1-for-2. It was physical, it was intense, and the officiating was pretty horrible. Neither team was given the whistles they deserved, and the Rose Garden was within inches of completely imploding. But you know what? The Mavs looked like the veteran team they are, and they kept playing. Dirk Nowitzki is brutally persistent in his complaints to the officials on some nights, but yesterday it was the Blazers that couldn’t stop yapping to the officiating crew (Brandon Roy, Andre Miller, and Nate McMillan were given techs for precisely this reason). While Dallas was ineffective on offense, Portland looked rattled. Not a bad thing to see from this team as they’re closing in on the playoffs.
  • The Blazers were ice cold for long stretches of this game, but the Mavs didn’t make anything easy for the Portland offense. In terms of the Mavs’ ability to rotate, contest shots, and protect the rim, this was one of the Mavs’ more impressive efforts. I would never expect to say something like that after a game that Shawn Marion missed due to injury, but the Mavs’ defense on Brandon Roy (13 points, 4-14 FG, eight rebounds, six assists) was pretty impressive; Caron Butler (18 points, 6-16 FG, seven rebounds) offered a physical, aggressive counter, and the Mavs’ double teams didn’t leave the weak side exposed as they did in these two teams’ previous meetings. Brendan Haywood also did a pretty good job playing man defense on LaMarcus Aldridge (27 points, 9-20 FG, five rebounds, three blocks), even if LMA still had a very productive scoring night by hitting tough shots and running the floor.
  • Jason Kidd had an interesting night. By most measures, this game was an abject failure for Kidd; many of his passes were errant (four turnovers to just six assists), he didn’t provide much scoring at all (just two points), and the offense he’s paid to run was woefully inefficient. There is one number on his stat line that should pop out, though: 12 rebounds. Team rebounding was so important in this game, and Kidd played a huge role in gathering the plethora of misses on both ends. The Mavs didn’t dominate the rebounding column, but they still deserve some credit for their effort on the glass. It may not seem like much, but Kidd pulling down a rebound in traffic, Caron Butler fighting for a second opportunity on the offensive boards, and J.J. Barea sprinting in to secure a defensive rebound — these are plays that matter. In a high-intensity contest, each of those plays does wonders in terms of establishing, retaining, or denying momentum, which matters even more when baskets are tough to come by.
  • What can I even say about Dirk Nowitzki at this point in the season that I haven’t already said a million times before? He was terrific, and though he missed plenty of good looks (he was a horrible, terrible, no-good, very bad 11-of-24 from the field), he more than made up for those misses with his frequent trips to the free throw line. 40 points on 24 shots is pretty insane no matter how you slice it, but that mark is even more impressive thanks to how badly the rest of the offense performed by comparison. Nowitzki had nearly half of the Mavs’ total points. Think about that.
  • Another start for DeShawn Stevenson, but he again he didn’t play all that much. He only collected two rebounds and score no points in nearly 17 minutes, but his greatest value was in defending Brandon Roy early in the game. He was hardly spectacular, but he held down the fort until Butler was switched onto Roy later.
  • Marcus Camby grabbed 18 rebounds. I remember some Mavs fans fussing a bit when John Hollinger gave the Blazers’ acquisition of Camby and the Mavs’ acquisition of Butler/Haywood the same “trade grade,” but is there any question that Camby has made a phenomenal difference since arriving in Portland?
  • If it hasn’t been made abundantly clear in recent weeks, Eddie Najera has clear value to this team. With 1:07 seconds to go in the first quarter, Najera played the irritant, and stood in Juwan Howard’s path as Howard started to run back down the court after a Maverick basket. Juwan extended his arm, Najera hit the ground, offensive foul. Hardly the most honorable move, but getting under opponents’ skin is something that Eddie does extraordinarily well. His stat line will show up empty aside from his three points, but even that three-pointer was a go-ahead bucket that sank the Blazers just as they looked to be figuring things out.
  • Jason Terry (12 points, two assists) did not shoot very well from the floor (3-of-9, 1-of-3 from three-point range), but to his credit he got to the line eight times. Some of those attempts were off of technical fouls, but that doesn’t change the fact that JET was more aggressive in going to the hoop when his shot clearly wasn’t going to be kind to him.
  • Rudy Fernandez () didn’t score in great volume, but his three three-pointers were much like Najera’s: they were far more impactful than a few ticks on the scoreboard. Fernandez has had a very weird season, with his shooting stroke, his ambiguous role on the team, and injury mucking up what could have been a very successful year. It’s good to see at least his health and his shooting going his way, even if there’s lingering uncertainty between Rudy and the team over his place with the Blazers.
  • J.J. Barea (zero points 0-5 FG, two rebounds, one assist) played nearly 11 minutes, but the Mavs didn’t give Jason Kidd enough of a break for any of the Mavs’ point guards to take a significant turn at running the show. Rodrigue Beaubois: DNP-CD.
  • Brendan Haywood’s performance was much better than the six points and four rebounds he ended up with. He boxed out well even if he wasn’t the man to collect the rebound, he challenged shots inside and altered layups due to his rotation, and he got to the foul line a few times by putting pressure on the Blazers’ bigs. This one won’t go on his resume or in his highlight reel, but it was still a fairly effective night for Brendan.
  • Cynthia

    You’re right, it was an ugly game. One I didn’t think we were going to win at times, but god isn’t it great to get a win in a game like this? Because THIS is what the playoffs are all about. I loved the fact that the MAVS had the never say die attitude. They never gave up. And the best thing of all is when Portland came put pushing the MAVS pushed right back. They played tough. They played physical and they rattled Portlands cage. The MAVS clearly played like the veteran team that they are. With J-Kidd leading the way and Dirk’s eteranl toughness it’s great to see savvy tough minded players on this team who are NOT going to let anyone push them around. Yep, this game was ugly, but it was also quite beautiful.