The Mavericks ended their preseason in spectacular fashion last night.
Houston led by a single point. The clock provided Dallas with a game-winning chance, provided they make a single stop. Brendan Haywood altered a Courtney Lee layup attempt with under five seconds remaining, and Jason Kidd immediately called timeout upon collecting the rebound. What resulted was a bit of a broken exchange; Jason Terry had an open look at a runner on the baseline, but instead forced a pass to Dirk Nowitzki at the free throw line extended. Lee seemingly redeemed his earlier miss by picking off Terry’s misguided pass, but he mistakenly stepped out of bounds with 0.4 seconds remaining. Dallas had just the slightest chance to win their final preseason exhibition, and even that possibility was eclipsed by the presence of the 7’6” Yao Ming, who Houston had conveniently positioned to contest the inbound pass. That Jason Kidd, though…he’s something.
EDIT: Sebastian Pruiti did a terrific job diagramming the sequence for NBA Playbook. Pruiti focused on one of the fundamental aspects of the play’s success: the use of Dirk Nowitzki as a screen-setter. It’s so rare to find a player with Nowitzki’s combination of size (and thus, screening ability) and shooting touch. That makes it incredibly difficult for opponents to both cover the man coming around his screen (in this case, Marion) and cover Dirk. Part of drawing up an effective play is forcing opponents to make tough decisions, and demanding that opposing players instantaneously decide whether to cover a popping Dirk or a cutting Marion is exactly what Carlisle and his staff hope to accomplish.