The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 116, Sacramento Kings 100

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 17, 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.

  • Dallas won by a wide margin, but Dirk Nowitzki scored just 13 points. Jason Kidd was the Mavericks’ leading scorer. J.J. Barea and Brendan Haywood were the only Mavs with double-doubles. This game was interesting for reasons that stretched far beyond the return of Rodrigue Beaubois (13 points, 6-13 FG, six assists, three steals, three turnovers), and the Mavs’ dominance was far greater than the impact of their young hope. Beaubois’ return was noteworthy for his individual efforts, but the Mavs played a pretty dominant offensive game overall. We can pick nits — the turnovers got a bit out of hand at times and Dallas rarely got to the line — but it’s hard to ask for more than eight double-digit scorers and a 62.8 effective field goal percentage. Bellissimo.
  • Barea has was easily the Mavs’ most impressive player. The 10 assists don’t mislead in the slightest; Barea’s vision was truly special in this one. He made phenomenal feeds to cutters, to shooters, to open dunkers — this was a remarkable playmaking performance unlike anything we’ve seen from Barea in recent memory. He’s done fine work as an efficient scorer in the last few weeks, but this showing was of an entirely different grain.
  • Another funny thing about Barea’s fantastic game? He wasn’t even supposed to show up to work on Wednesday. Barea had been held out of practice because of a groin injury and a case of the flu. Ain’t no thang, apparently.
  • 20-point performances from Kidd are always notable, as are games where any player — Kidd or otherwise — goes 6-of-7 from three-point range. And surprising though it was that Kidd was such so accurate, it was just as unusual that he kept firing away. Kidd took six three point attempts in the third quarter and though it’s a good thing for the Mavs that he did, that’s not a frequency in shot attempts that can be found on a game-by-bame basis.
  • Dallas’ final defensive numbers turned out just fine, but overall this was not one of their finer outings on that end. There were some notable individual efforts — Tyson Chandler, in particular, did a great job on DeMarcus Cousins (16 points, 6-19 FG, 12 rebounds, four assists, seven turnovers). It just didn’t add up to anything more. The offense was in gear for most of the game, but this was far from a complete game.
  • That’s one reason why Jermaine Taylor rattled off a career-high 17 points on just 12 field goal attempts, with five assists as the cherry on top. The Mavs aren’t far removed from the team that used to allow opposing wings to have career nights like Taylor’s on a frequent basis, but this season that’s been a bit of a rarity. Dallas’ defense hasn’t been air-tight throughout the year, but it’s certainly been more effective in limiting those singular, explosive performances.
  • The Mavs’ rotation looked as deep as ever. Not only did Beaubois’ return give Dallas a solid scoring boost, but Haywood’s (12 points, 5-8 FG, 10 rebounds) activity level was off the charts relative to his usual performance this season. His righty hook might still cue an arena’s worth of winces, but when he’s moving on offense and rebounding this consistently, Haywood gives his team a huge boost.
  • The Mavs made the most significant run of the game — a 9-0 spurt at the tail end of the third quarter — came with Dirk Nowitzki sitting on the bench. Nothing quite like fresh air, eh?
  • We’re still feeling out how Peja Stojakovic (12 points, 5-11 FG, 2-5 3FG, four rebounds) will function as a member of this team, but the early signs are pretty positive. His defense has been fairly competent for the most part, or at least competent enough that it hasn’t caused significant problems. His shooting stroke seems to be coming around, and this type of performance gives even more reason to hope for improvement. I’m not sure how the shot distributions will shake out once Beaubois becomes a regular, but if the ball winds up in Stojakovic’s hands for about 10 attempts a night, the Mavs could gain plenty from his contributions.
  • Keep in mind, though, that Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki only attempted 10 field goals apiece in this one. Those numbers are going to rise, and though more shots can be reallocated from other places, the offense can’t be expected to be quite so balanced nightly.
  • Plenty more to come on Beaubois’ evening a bit later, but something should be said of his patience. Beaubois’ attempts were high-percentage looks. He took threes, but only open ones. He didn’t settle for mid-range jumpers, instead opting to put pressure on the Kings’ defense. He attacked the basket frequently in transition, often triggering the one-man fast break a la Tony Parker and Devin Harris. For a player facing heavy expectation on his first day back, it’s commendable that Beaubois stuck so steadfastly to efficient offense.
  • In terms of actual skill, Beaubois barely showed any rust at all. He phased out on defense at times, but he was guilty of that during his rookie season as well. Conditioning was certainly an issue, albeit a temporary one. As Beaubois works up to NBA speed, he’ll become more effective on both ends and — one can hope — a candidate for more significant minutes. Still, 21 minutes in his debut is a pretty great sign for Beaubois’ place in Carlisle’s rotation.
  • It’s hard to pinpoint the exact nature of the Mavs’ turnover problems (five different Mavs had three turnovers apiece), but the easiest diagnosis is simple sloppiness. Some plays were overly ambitious, others lazy. Overall it’s not too much to worry about, but even veteran teams with experienced point guards running the show can fall into these ruts for games at a time.
  • That said, the same willingness to share the ball that burned the Mavs on many occasions is also what pushed the team to a total of 34 assists despite Kidd functioning as a gunner.
  • Another notable thing about Beaubois’ return: Rick Carlisle wasn’t shy in the slightest about putting the ball in his hands to trigger the offense. Even with Kidd on the floor, it was Beaubois who ran the pick-and-roll, initiated plays, and brought the ball up-court.
  • On the New York Times’ Off the Dribble blog, I outlined why starting in the NBA isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and cited DeShawn Stevenson as a part my explanation. Stevenson starts, and the role he plays on the Mavs is important. However, getting that nod at the beginning of games doesn’t mean much concerning the worth of Stevenson’s game, nor the quantity of his minutes. As of Wednesday, Stevenson had started 20 games in which he played fewer than 15 minutes. Make that 21, as Stevenson logged just 13 and a half minutes of action last night. Beaubois may eventually usurp Stevenson from his starting role, but regardless, DeShawn’s moment has passed. He made some threes for the Mavs, but his minutes will likely continue to hover around the 12-13 mark as long as the rest of the rotation remains intact.