- There’s probably something distressing to be written about the way the Dallas allowed Utah to stay in this game after a torrential first quarter, but frankly, the entertainment value of tonight’s affair was far too high to warrant such a negative initial reaction. The Mavs flat-lined at times between the first and the fourth, but Dirk Nowitzki (31 points, 10-12 FG, 3-4 3FG, 15 rebounds, four assists) and Deron Williams’ (34 points, 12-22 FG, six assists) collective brilliance, both teams’ alternating spells of dominant basketball, and hell, the sheer number of and-ones made for a phenomenal watch. Not a game of the year candidate or even the most significant win during the Mavs’ incredible streak, but just a great show from start to finish.
- Nowitzki deserves all of the bullet points I could ever write for him and then some. He was assertive when he needed to be, deferred when the time was right, and again erased the line between volume and efficiency. No player should be able to do what Dirk does, but he pours in the points without putting the offense on tilt, and dominates wholly and completely. The cherry on top is this bit from Andrew Tobolowsky (@andytobo): “Dirk [is] 18-22 for 52 [points in the] last two games. Try that, Kobe. Also, whoever, I guess.”
- The first five minutes of the first quarter were possibly the most efficient stretch of Maverick basketball — or possibly any basketball — I’ve ever seen. Not only did the Mavs make eight of their first nine field goal attempts en route to an early 21-2 lead, but five of those eight field goals were three-pointers. That’s a rate of 210 points per 100 possessions, and somehow even more impressively (!), Dallas managed an effective field goal percentage of 116.7% over that stretch. That’s not a miscalculation. The Mavs’ shooting was impossibly good.
- Dallas’ bench was awful. The starters (with the possible exception of Jason Kidd, who had not one, but two airballed three-pointers) played magnificently, but aside from successful fourth-quarter stints by Jason Terry and Brendan Haywood, the reserves’ presence on the court was a disaster. The bench combined to shoot 8-for-27 from the field, grab just seven boards, and turn the ball over seven times. Yuck.
- Oddly enough, the Jazz’s third-quarter zone seemed to give the Mavs a bit of trouble. You’d think that if any team in the league knew how to attack a zone it would be Dallas, and yet the Mavs could only stumble their way through offensive possessions.
- The Mavs fell for Deron Williams’ pump fake time and time again, and Williams did a tremendous job of finishing after contact. What’s more: I don’t blame Kidd, Terry, Stevenson, and the like for biting on Williams’ fakes. He’s that good, and for significant chunks of this game, he was the only productive member of the Jazz. Williams poured it in, and while he wasn’t as efficient as Nowitzki, he gave the Mavs no choice but to respect every potential attempt. Leaving your feet is never sound defensive strategy, but it’s hard to blame the Mavs’ defenders for trying to make a play against such an effective scorer.