The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 112, Phoenix Suns 106

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 18, 2011 under Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

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You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.

  • Kudos to the Mavs for not letting their focus stray during these final two games before the All-Star break, but the defense is clearly already on vacation. First, the Mavs allowed the Kings (sans Tyreke Evans) to put up some competitive offensive numbers, even if they sprinted away during the third quarter by getting a few stops. Then on Thursday night, the Mavs surrendered 110.4 points per 100 possessions to the Suns. Phoenix is, of course, a very good offensive team. Even without Amar’e Stoudemire, Steve Nash has this club clicking with the seventh best offense in the entire league. That said, Dallas is due for a good defensive win. The D has wavered in the last two months or so, and though the Mavs are still defending well enough to win, they’re likely not defending quite well enough for the coaching staff to sleep well at night. Pats on the back for another victory (the 40th this season), but this team needs to come back after the break with a focus on improving its defense to those early-season levels.
  • Dirk Nowitzki (35 points, 13-18 FG, 3-3 3FG, four rebounds) has never been a kind matchup for the Suns, but this wasn’t just another exploitation of a mismatch. If there were any lingering questions concerning Nowitzki’s health, they were promptly dismissed each and every time Dirk graced the net with his jump shot. This was a far more focused Dallas offense in terms of scoring production (as opposed to the community effort against Sacramento), but even then, five Mavs (Nowitzki, Terry, Marion, Stojakovic, Chandler) scored in double-figures. It’s hard to evaluate this team properly over their last two games given the quality of defenses faced, but there are some great omens in the box score entrails.
  • Rodrigue Beaubois (nine points, 4-10 FG, 1-4 3FG, two assists, two turnovers) again played around 20 minutes of action, but wasn’t quite as productive this time around. Carlisle threw Beaubois into the starting lineup, which could certainly be interpreted as a positive sign. However, in addition to the conditioning issues which will limit Beaubois in the immediate future (as well as any minute restrictions he may be under), it’s worth keeping an eye on his foul totals. Beaubois was known to get a little foul-happy last season, though his foul troubles were unique occasions rather than part of a trend. So far this season though, Beaubois is averaging 8.1 fouls per 36 minutes. He totaled five on Thursday night while playing less than half the game.
  • Somehow, Steve Nash (15 points. 6-10 FG, 14 assists, five rebounds, three turnovers) has entered that strange phase in his career where people have a general conception of how good he is and used to be, but generally refuse to acknowledge him due to his team’s perceived irrelevance. Nash is playing as well as ever despite Stoudemire moving on, and truly hasn’t been lauded for that fact enough. He was as irrepressible as ever on Thursday; the impossible passes in traffic, the absurd layups that make Nash seem like a scholar in geometry, and the jumpers that — like that of a certain Maverick — seem to have no business going in. “Freeing Steve Nash” would be great and all, but I’m perfectly content to watch a great player be great, no matter the area code or win percentage.
  • J.J. Barea missed the game with the flu, so Beaubois and Jason Terry (16 points, 5-12 FG, seven assists, three steals, two turnovers) each took care of the ball when Jason Kidd (six points, 2-8 FG, 12 assists, eight rebounds) rested. The offense overall returned to order, as Kidd transformed back into a primary playmaker, and the Dallas offense calmed down from their turnover-happy performance against Sacramento. The Mavs have always done well offensively by maintaining control, and Thursday night’s 12.5 turnover rate is much more in line with the expectation for this team.
  • Another great game for the Mavs’ big-man tandem: Tyson Chandler (12 points, 5-8 FG, 12 rebounds) resumed his season of offensive import, while Brendan Haywood (seven points, five rebounds, one block) capitalized on the Suns’ poor interior rotations in limited minutes (11). That said, Carlisle elected to go small for significant portions of this game, and utilized both Nowitzki and Shawn Marion (12 points, 6-10 FG, eight rebounds) as the primary big. Against Phoenix, that’s not much of a problem, and Dallas had some success in those configurations, particularly with a Kidd-Terry-Stevenson-Marion-Nowitzki lineup that made a 9-0 sprint late in the third quarter.
  • Bgalella

    Always fun to watch Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki battle it out. Another good game between the Suns and Mavericks.

  • Jovan

    I'm a freshman at USC majoring in print journalism, NBA writing in particular. Check out the highlights and lowlights from All-Star Weekend.