The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 100, Detroit Pistons 86

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 11, 2012 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

Screen shot 2012-01-11 at 9.27.24 AM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR

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

  • Don’t look now, but Mavericks basketball is fun again. Delonte West turned his second game filling in for Jason Kidd into something special, as from the very beginning he was creating some truly spectacular shots off the dribble. West found Brendan Haywood in the right spots, turning the typically clumsy center into an occasional weapon. He created situations that put so much pressure on Detroit’s defense that Dirk Nowitzki was left wide open on the weak side. He worked the ball around, made a living off of his silky handle, and picked up six steals to just five points to make his Kidd imitation complete. It’s been a true pleasure to see West go to work for the Mavs this season, and this seems like a good a time as any to remind you that this guy is playing for the league’s minimum salary. I’m still not quite sure how that happened, but hot damn did Dallas get one of the steals of free agency.
  • Preface: garbage time, Detroit Pistons, etc. But Brandan Wright…wowza:

  • Lamar Odom is now wearing a headband for the first time since, if I’m not mistaken, the 2004 Olympic Games. Contrary to initial beliefs, that most magical of elastic accessories did not solve all of Odom’s problems. There were plenty of positives for Odom, though; he may have gone scoreless from the field, but he got to the line six times, grabbed seven boards, registered four assists, and made a handful of nifty passes for a handful of near-assists. He’ll certainly have better games, but considering how effective Dallas was overall and the subtler ways in which Odom was able to benefit the team with his play, I’m inclined to nod and move on.
  • Early in the game, the Mavs made a conscious effort to establish Vince Carter in the post against the much smaller Ben Gordon. The results of his first two sequences on the block? On the first play, Carter drew a double team before darting a pass to Haywood under the hoop for a reverse dunk. On the second, his slow backdown kept Brandon Knight in the lane long enough to warrant a defensive three-second violation:

  • Dirk Nowitzki (18 points, 9-10 FG, seven rebounds) made some open shots. Who knew it was so easy?
  • Alright, so he made a few contested ones, too. Jason Maxiell never really had a chance; Nowitzki has so much height on him to begin with that even challenging Dirk’s fade would require use of a step ladder or a jetpack. Even then, both of those are pretty hard to prepare in the time it takes Nowitzki to spin and fire, no matter how slow and lumbering ze German may be.
  • Ian Mahinmi (10 points, 5-8 FG, three rebounds) had another really terrific, active offensive game, and highlighted just how dynamic of a finisher he’s become. It’s not always as simple as straight line cuts and dunks for Mahinmi; his angles in this game required him to contort and work his way through a congested lane in order to get his points, and he thrived nonetheless. With the passers the Mavs have on this roster, Mahinmi should be set for an entire year of what we’ve seen so far: productive slashing, engaged defense, rebounding effort (though sometimes he’s a bit underwhelming in that regard), and the occasional spot-up jumper.
  • Shawn Marion (14 points, 4-6 FG, two steals, one block) had a far more focused game in terms of his production than we’ve come to expect, but he did some terrific offensive work as both a leak-out artist and a half-court weapon. Plus, Marion played some pretty tight defense that forced the Pistons into some tough plays. It doesn’t take much to push Detroit’s offense over the edge these days, but Marion’s smart application of defensive pressure created a few turnovers for Dallas.
  • On that note: the Mavs played some pretty swell defense, but let’s give credit where credit is due. The Detroit Pistons were a walking, basketball-playing bevy of turnovers, and though Dallas didn’t give them the easy way out at any point during the game’s first three quarters, Detroit certainly made things easier with their seven turnovers in each of the first and third quarters.
  • Oh, so this happened:

  • The Dallas Mavericks: still shooting terribly from beyond the arc. Vince Carter had himself a day (3-of-5) as a spot-up shooter, but the rest of the team combined to go just 1-for-10 on threes. Dallas is still creating quality looks on the perimeter, and eventually those open attempts will start following. Tuesday night just wasn’t in the cards, I suppose.
  • I want so badly for Greg Monroe (nine points, 4-6 FG, seven rebounds, two assists) to be on a team with a functional high post offense. He barely got any touches at all in this particular game, and while some of that is undoubtedly on Monroe, a more careful offensive structure — and, how can I say this delicately…teammates who are less bad at basketball? — would go a long way toward getting him the ball in the right spots on the floor. As Patrick Hayes recently noted on Piston Powered (a truly fantastic team blog across the board, worthy of your time if you’re at all interested in the bizarre group of players on Detroit’s roster), Monroe is the team’s best young point guard. He sets up his teammates wonderfully, but Monroe can only really go to work from select spots on the floor. He’s getting a better feel for how to establish position in each of those spots in the early going of his second NBA season, but I can’t wait to see how he performs when playing for a team that isn’t in offensive disarray.
  • Yi Jianlian recorded his first playing time in a Maverick uniform to little fanfare at the tail end of a blowout on the road. His actual performance was nothing worth seeing or talking about, but the fact that it happened seems worthy of note.