The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 96, Los Angeles Lakers 94

Posted by Rob Mahoney on May 3, 2011 under Recaps | 9 Comments to Read

Screen shot 2011-05-03 at 12.16.38 PM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Los Angeles105.645.820.223.912.4

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 lines that separate outcomes — and naturally, the perception, reaction, and emotion that accompany them — are so very, very thin. It’s appropriate to say that Dallas “stole” or “escaped with” Game 1. There was so much potential for success and failure in that 48 minutes; the bounce of a ball and the sound of a whistle swayed the very existence of two entire basketball teams, two entire franchises, two entire fan bases. It’s after games like these that we’re compelled to look at singular plays to determine where things went right and where they went wrong, but the slim margin of victory gives even more of a reason than ever to look for that which brought sustained success. Don’t over-analyze Dirk Nowitzki’s drawn foul to give Dallas their go-ahead points, but the way he maneuvered in space throughout the game to create passing lanes and shooting angles. Don’t get too excited about Jason Kidd’s defensive disruption in the clutch, but embrace the strong interior defense that somehow made Andrew Bynum a non-factor. The Mavs didn’t win Game 1 because they hit big shots or made big stops. They won because of consistent execution. They won because of patience. They won because even when the passes were errant and the shots were drawing iron, they continued to run their sets and cut hard and work toward quality shots. They won because Kobe Bryant, while brilliant, attempted 29 shots without attempting a single layup or dunk. Every play matters, but strings of plays simply matter more. Those trends in play that matter more than any single element of the game ever could, even though the inherent anxiety of an endgame situation lends it a bloated importance.
  • It’s safe to say that neither team has played its best game, but the Mavs developed an incredible offensive rhythm. The overall ball movement was spectacular; ball-handlers were only bottled late into the shot clock on a few occasions, and the otherwise crisp passing got the ball into the hands of a well-positioned scorer. The stagnation that leads to a completely Dirk-reliant offense was nowhere to be found, and while Nowitzki’s 28 points provided the foundation for Dallas’ offensive success, the Mavs’ flow didn’t rely on him to create every time down the floor. The Lakers had defensive breakdowns, but credit the Mavs for instigating them; those kinds of flaws are only evident if the offensive team creates situations to exploit them, and Dallas’ passing forced L.A. to adjust in ways that — on this night, anyway — they simply weren’t able. That the Mavs shot .450 from beyond the arc against one of the best three-point percentage defenses in the league isn’t indicative of some aberration, merely the fact that the Mavs worked to create open shot attempts and made an effort to establish their three-point shooters. The Lakers didn’t cover well, and nearly got away with it. Stay frosty. Dirk Nowitzki was unguardable, Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood played fantastic defense in the post, Shawn Marion and Jason Terry were engaged offensively, Corey Brewer played meaningful minutes, Jason Kidd made the right plays — and the Mavs won by a single bucket. A lot went right for Dallas in Game 1, which makes me curious to see how they function in the coming games when things aren’t going so smoothly. The Mavs weathered runs on Monday night, but I’m interested in seeing how they weather entire games; the micro-level in-game adjustments are fascinating, but only inevitable loss will bring an accurate measure of this team’s constitution and adaptability.
  • Trippoli

    i know the point of “the difference” is to match the point differential to the number of points of analysis, BUT I NEED MORE ROB! i'm still riding high on the victory and hope limitation in analysis in this post instigates a more substantial breakdown pre-game 2

    • Rob Mahoney

      No worries — more on the way.

  • mb

    There is a mistake in the statistics.
    The opponent is not Portland anymore.

    • Rob Mahoney

      Whoops. Fixed.

      • mb

        I think it`s time to thank you for your sound analysis of the Mavericks all season long.
        I`m glad to have such a excellent side to get the relefant information of each game.

  • Kirk Henderson

    It had to be nice playing in an arena where the fans were mostly indifferent.

    And Roddy didn't even dress? Sure glad we held on to him when Deron Williams was in play haha.

    I am very hopeful for game 2!

  • Andrew Leff

    J-Kidd's defense on Kobe down the stretch was huge, and Dirk got buckets at will. Plus the Lakers didn't get any support off the bench, or from Bynum/Artest. The Mavs, by contrast, had 5 players in double-figures and another solid performance from Terry. Check it out:

  • Dr. Clarkus


    Not only did Kobe not have a shot at the rim, he also didn't have an assist. There were numerous times in the second half were Gasol would get good position and Kobe would just have his head down looking for his shot.

  • Andrew Leff

    The difference was in shutting down Kobe down the stretch. He scored only five points on 1-4 shooting in the fourth quarter, as the Mavs lead ballooned to 15. Dirk's 24 and Shawn's 14 were solid and efficient performances, but the win would not have been possible–just like in Game One–without great defense on Kobe. Check it out: