“Any human anywhere will blossom in a hundred unexpected talents and capacities simply by being given the opportunity to do so.”
- Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry combined to shoot 10-of-30 from the field, but the Mavericks were in control for the entire fourth quarter. Mark that glass as half-full, folks. Dallas managed 113.8 points per 100 possessions with both of their top scorers putting up duds. Caron Butler watched from the bench, too, just to properly test the limits of the Mavs’ depth. The rest of the Mavs picked up the slack, and while they didn’t shoot quite as efficiently, offensive rebounds and fewer turnovers cranked up Dallas’ total possessions.
- In a nutshell, that’s the story of this game. Dallas was able to be tremendously successful on offense while going away from their most prolific scoring options. It was an uncharacteristic night in just about every regard. The Mavs are 28th in the league in turnover rate, and yet they kept their turnovers to a minimum. Dallas ranks 27th in offensive rebounding rate, but destroyed the offensive glass in this one. And, despite being ranked 28th in free throw rate prior to this game, the Mavs got to the line with regularity. All welcome surprises, but still a little odd.
- The Mavs still refuse to put away their opponents early, though. This is the NBA (where every team eventually makes a run ™), but Dallas should be better than the slim lead they took into the fourth quarter. Dirk Nowitzki was reportedly a bit bothered by his tweaked ankle, but it’d be nice for the Mavs to get a little separation at some point regardless. Dallas’ point differential has been fine overall, but eventually they’ll need to build up a substantial lead and actually sustain it.
- There were all kinds of heroes in this one. J.J. Barea provided a ton of fourth-quarter scoring and had a team-high 19 points. Brendan Haywood brutalized Philly’s bigs on the glass; he grabbed 17 rebounds, including nine on the offensive glass. Tyson Chandler was tremendously active, and he balanced a versatile defensive outing with good board work (12 on the night) and scoring (Chandler added 11 points). Shawn Marion had his second-straight super-efficient evening, as he chipped in 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Having an effective supporting cast in a November game against the Sixers may not convert the Mavs’ critics, but this is the kind of performance Dallas can build on.
- Nowitzki didn’t just put up a clunker on the offensive end, but he was clearly hindered defensively. Dirk has never been a strong defender, but last night he was pretty miserable. Whether in man coverage or zone, Nowitzki gave up dunks, rotated slowly, and didn’t offer much help at all. I think it’s safe to say that Dirk won’t be getting the game ball.
- Brian Cardinal hadn’t done much to warrant considerable playing time prior to this game, but he contributed across the board in this one. Five points, two rebounds, two steals, a block, and a three-pointer for Cardinal, who probably can’t be counted on to do much better. There will be games when Cardinal makes multiple threes or grabs a few more rebounds, but in total this was a notably effective performance.
- Chandler did a good job in his individual matchup with Elton Brand, who finished with eight points (3-8 FG), nine rebounds, and three turnovers.
- I’m still liking the usage of the zone with Terry and Barea in the game together. Jrue Holiday had a few embarrassingly easy drives after getting past that two-man front, but otherwise the zone minimized some of the Mavs’ other weaknesses.
- However, don’t take that last statement as a claim of Dallas’ defensive success on this particular night. The Mavericks’ fourth-quarter defense was very effective (Philadelphia was held to just 15 points in the frame), but Dallas needs to rotate quickly for the entire game. I’m not sure there’s any justification to give up multiple open dunks to Spencer Hawes.
- Jason Kidd came out ready to shoot, but his release was noticeably off tonight. Nowitzki and Terry are so consistent in their shooting that it’s tough to anticipate their shooting performance by their form alone, but Kidd’s seems to come and go. From his first three-point attempt something seemed askew, and sure enough, Kidd finished 3-of-10 from the field and 2-of-7 from distance.
- Dallas’ offense was subtly sloppy for stretches in the third quarter. Kidd and Nowitzki couldn’t quite sync up on entry passes. Catches were bobbled, even if they didn’t always result in turnovers. Those kinds of minor errors don’t necessarily kill an offense, but in this case they certainly kept the Mavs from reaching their full offensive potential.