The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 108, Minnesota Timberwolves 105

Posted by Rob Mahoney on March 8, 2011 under Recaps | 4 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.

  • The Minnesota Timberwolves made it clear early in this game that they came to play, but as has been the case with that team so many times this season, even their most honorable intentions culminated in a chaotic mess. Kevin Love (23 points, 7-14 FG, 17 rebounds, five assists) had another exemplary game, but most everything else for Minnesota was just a shade below what was needed; Michael Beasley turned the ball over too often, Darko Milicic was a non-factor on the glass, Luke Ridnour’s shooting was off, and Brian Cardinal — Dallas’ best three-point shooter this season — wasn’t given the respect he deserves on the perimeter. Those developments aren’t damning on their own, but collectively they collapsed an otherwise commendable effort from the Wolves. The Mavs got away with a game they likely should have lost, but there was certainly an element of predictability here: the team of stable vets out-executed a crew that has made a routine out of fourth quarter implosions.
  • Dirk Nowitzki (25 points, 7-12 FG, 10-10 FT, six rebounds), Jason Terry (11 points, 3-11 FG, four assists, four turnovers), and J.J. Barea (eight points, 3-7 FG, five assists) combined for 25 points in the final frame, which matched Minnesota’s total scoring output for the quarter. Otherwise though, the Maverick offense hardly went according to plan. If not for Cardinal’s flurry of three-point makes and Jason Kidd’s (13 points, 4-8 FG, nine assists, four steals) play, Dallas would have faced a considerable deficit going into the fourth — and likely failed in their efforts to salvage the game. This team misses Tyson Chandler, and if that wasn’t made clear by some of the uncontested buckets surrendered around the rim, it should be obvious in the way the Mavs’ offensive efficiency dips in his absence. There are a lot of places to point the finger — the team as a whole for not getting Nowitzki more touches, Terry and Shawn Marion (nine points, 10 rebounds, four assists) for failing to convert their opportunities, etc. — but there’s a profound difference between the influence of Chandler and Brendan Haywood (eight points, 10 rebounds, three turnovers) on the Mavs’ offensive flow. Haywood had a very solid game, but even if the quantifiable elements of his performance are respectable, they don’t come paired with Chandler’s knack for creating open looks for his teammates via screens and hard rolls to the rim.
  • Corey Brewer has yet to have the kind of performance that will win over Mavs fans, but he did play pretty effective defense on Michael Beasley during some of his six minutes of action, and threw in this fantastic two-way sequence:
  • That said, it was Marion who acted as the Mavs’ defensive stopper on Beasley during the second half, not Brewer. Beas dropped nine points on eight shots in the first quarter as he victimized both Nowitzki and Peja Stojakovic, but Marion blanketed Beasley in the second half, when the Wolves forward shot just 3-of-12 from the field.

  • Kirk Henderson

    I'm glad Mahimi is seeing some time, but his hands have been terrible the past few games. At first I thought he was a center, but after seeing his time at Center you can tell he feels better not having to be the last line of defense. Still though, like what he's giving us.

    These last few games have been a struggle. Here's to hoping the Mavs can hit their stride at the right time.

  • Matt WH

    Warning: I'm long-winded. I'm continually amazed at just how efficient Dirk has been throughout this season. Shooting at over 53% on the season is just astounding, especially considering his shooting slump and cold hands following his return from injury. Nowitzki would be hitting at a much higher clip, how high, I don't know without crunching the numbers.

    Figuring that the vast majority of Dirk's shots are jumpers from the 12 to 22 foot range just makes it that much more impressive. He's a seven-footer, sure, but unconventional by any standards. He's not one to often drive the hoop (although when angry or in crunch time, he's more than capable of making you pay down low), and RARELY dunks, instead relying on back to the basket, post-up turnaround fade-aways and isolation 3-balls from the top of the key. Incredibly efficient.

    That all being said, as mentioned by Rob above, this is a team that far too often fails to get the ball in 41's hands. Dirk rarely turns the rock over, is basically unblockable, an excellent passer out of double teams, and can create his own shot far better than most give him credit. And yet I'll watch several minutes of game time roll by without Dirk ever touching the ball. He'll set screens, move in plays, and while he needs to get better off the boards like he once was, there's no good reason why the ball shouldn't at least flow through Dirk more, whether it be for his move, or to free someone else up for their own shot.

    I understand that Dirk picks and chooses his shots carefully, which helps him be as accurate as he is, but am I not the only one that wishes he would put it up a few more times a game? How much more of a leading MVP candidate would Dirk be if instead of taking 15 to 16 shots per game, he took 18? Not surprisingly, Kobe takes 4.0 MORE shots PER GAME than Dirk, and is a far less efficient all around player at this point in their careers. While it's a tough comparison, as far as simplified shooting outlook is concerned, Derrick Rose takes 20.2 shots PER GAME! Lebron takes 18.7 and Kevin Durant takes 20.1.

    Here is a quick look at each's shooting percentages, followed by their true shooting percentages:

    Kobe Bryant .459 .554
    Kevin Durant .462 .586
    Manu Ginobili .424 .576
    Lebron James .493 .583
    Dirk Nowitzki .531 .627
    Derrick Rose .442 .535

    It's not even close. I know this is only a small portion of what each player does, and it's almost impossible to compare the various positions and roles of each player on their team, but I can't be alone in wishing Dirk would just take a few more shots, even with a small dip in percentage.

    Final point: I love Chandler, he might very well be the missing piece of our Championship run, I and think he's quite possibly the best center we've ever had here in Maverickdom, but Dirk remains the team MVP. Without Chandler, this team wins 50. Without Dirk? We'd be lucky to win 30. I know the team is built around Dirk, and therefore it functions poorly without the pistons firing in sync, but you get my point. Dirk has been carrying this team for over a decade. It's about time we returned the favor.

    • Phil

      nice resumé, Matt!

  • Bgalella

    Minnesota is a good team, not sure why they keep dropping all of these close games.