The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 122, Phoenix Suns 99

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 31, 2012 under Recaps | 3 Comments to Read

Screen shot 2012-01-31 at 12.32.09 PM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas95.0128.463.220.727.89.5
Phoenix104.251.325.017.111.9

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

  • So much of this brilliant offensive outing was built on the strength of the Mavs’ multi-angle drive-and-kick game. Initial penetration would draw defensive attention and lead to a kick to the corner, which would lead to a close-out and more dribble penetration and an ensuing kick-out from the wing, which would lead to an open three-pointer above the break. That cycle of dribble action may make it seem like the Mavs were getting nowhere, but having so may consecutive opportunities to put pressure on the opposing defense is hugely beneficial. Hence the scoreboard.
  • Which isn’t to say that the Mavs didn’t work the ball in other, less direct ways. Dallas’ ball movement was as crisp around the perimeter as it was from the inside out; despite the fact that everyone seemed to be connecting on their three-point attempts, the Mavs willingly rotated the ball around the perimeter to fully scramble the Suns’ defense and manufacture wide open attempts. They could have settled — in a sense — for good shots rather than great ones, but the ball never stuck to a single hot hand.
  • The basketball gods gave the Mavericks a gift: On the second night of a back-to-back — and following a hard-fought overtime game against the San Antonio Spurs — Dallas was given a crack at the struggling Phoenix Suns. Even better: They were given a crack at the struggling Phoenix Suns sans the one player that the Suns can never afford to lose. Again, hence the scoreboard.

  • Dirk Nowitzki (10 points, 4-10 FG, four rebounds, four assists) didn’t make all that much of an offensive impact, but the levity of this contest allowed him the opportunity to fight for position and try to establish himself. Needless to say, based on his statistical result: Nowitzki’s shot creation is still a work in progress. Still, Dirk can only tap back into his usual dominance by getting reps on the block and at the elbow, and he had a handful of chances to face up or fade on his defender from both of those areas on Monday night.
  • For a brief stretch in the first half, Josh Childress (nine points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals, three turnovers) flashed back to his previous life as an occasional burst scorer and a incredibly versatile defender (perhaps too versatile; Childress was asked to guard Dirk Nowitzki at times, largely because no one else could). His nine points was a somber season high, but they don’t stand as a precursor of better days with more minutes. Childress will return to the land of the DNP-CD, and we’ll all likely forget that this random stretch of effectiveness ever happened.
  • Lamar Odom was supposed to provide Dallas support during Nowitzki’s lapse, but Vince Carter appears to be the Mav behind the “BREAK IN CASE OF EMERGENCY” glass. Since returning to the court on the 27th, Carter has averaged 18 points on 55-percent shooting (and 53-percent shooting from beyond the arc), 3.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 0.3 turnovers a night. He clearly won’t be asked to uphold that standard on the regular, but it’s always nice to have capable contributors waiting in the wings.
  • As a complement to drive-and-kick ad infinitum, Dallas also worked a smart series of post variants. At the beginning of the game, the Mavs hit Shawn Marion, Nowitzki, and Carter in the post on consecutive possessions. This is a terrific way to feel out the Suns’ coverage; repeated post looks with different players involved tests to see where doubles might be coming from (if they come at all), and offers an early evaluation for potential mismatches. That kind of strategy didn’t turn out to be all that necessary in this game, but I appreciate the potential that such a sequence holds.
  • The Mavs would have scored 30+ points in each quarter of this game if not for the lopsided margin. Even against the league’s 26th ranked defense, that’s pretty gaudy.
  • The Mavs wasted little time in their efforts to bury the Suns, and that was as evident in their offensive rebounding effort as it was their offensive and defensive execution. The success on the glass didn’t hold up for the entire game, but the starters were able to create a handful of bonus possessions by pressuring a poor defensive rebounding team.
  • On a related note: Ian Mahinmi and Brendan Haywood have both been effective offensive rebounders this season, but the stylistic differences in their technique always stand out to me. Earlier this season, I discussed the difference between offensive and defensive rebounding approach with Mahinmi. He offered the following:
    .
    “Defensively, you try to box out your guy. You try to make sure that your guy is not getting the board, and then you go get it. Offensively, you’re just moving around, and when the shot goes up you just go up and get it. There’s no special recipe.”
    .
    That description sums up Mahinmi’s offensive rebounding strategy pretty perfectly; the shot often goes up with Mahinmi on the wing or near the top of the key, and he grabs an offensive board through hustle alone. Haywood, on the other hand, seems to approach offensive rebounding much like he does defensive rebounding. He establishes position down low, boxes out his man, and uses his height and long arms to corral rebounds slightly out of his immediate vicinity.
  • I could (should?) create an entirely new blog devoted solely to Delonte West’s (25 points, 9-12 FG, six assists, three rebounds, two steals, three turnovers) on-court virtues and versatility. He had a half of terrific playmaking (five assists in 16 first-half minutes), a game of long-range dominance (5-6 3FG), characteristically stellar defense, and great work with and without the ball. He succeeded in every single facet of this game, and need I remind you that he’s somehow playing for the veteran minimum?
  • Three Mavericks players scored 20 points or more, two more Mavs scored in double-digits, and a total of eight Mavs scored seven or more points. Jason Kidd did not play, and both Dirk Nowitzki and Lamar Odom hit on the low end of that scale with 10 and seven points, respectively. Last season’s depth was impressive. This is just silly.
  • Or, put another way: Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry combined for just 21 points, and yet Dallas put up 122 and at one point held a 28-point lead.
  • For clarity’s sake: Brandan Wright and Yi Jianlian aren’t arranged in typical fashion in the Mavs’ rotation; they share the same spot, and Rick Carlisle has clarified that their utilization will depend largely on the lineup constructions the Mavs will use. It’s not one above the other at this point — it’s one or the other. Wright got the call on Monday, but it’s clear that Carlisle trusts both players.
  • An underplayed storyline in light of the Suns’ uncomfortable positioning as neither a terrible team nor a competent one: Grant Hill, at age 39, appears to have finally hit the wall. He actually scored very well on Monday relative to his season performance, but the minor differences in his play from last year to this one are still pretty glaring. Hill isn’t long removed from being the most energetic Sun on the floor; they turned to him as their defensive stopper at 37, and Hill’s fill-in-the-gaps offensive game was a huge boon for the Suns’ Western Conference Finals run in 2010. And though it wouldn’t be fair to say that those elements of his game have disappear completely, they already appear well faded, and that’s a damn shame.
  • No Maverick played more than 28 minutes, with Dirk — who actually needs some minutes at this point — leading the way. A well managed game by Rick Carlisle, but a better one by the Mavs, who did themselves a service by removing all doubt in the third quarter.
  • Hill’s decline leaves the Suns in a really strange spot, as Nash is the only true shot creator on the roster. Ronnie Price, Sebastian Telfair, and Shannon Brown can create things off the dribble now and again, but lack the ability to generate offense consistently. Jared Dudley, Channing Frye, and Markieff Morris bring only the slightest tinges of solo shot creation (Morris more so than either Dudley or Frye), but are more realistically reliant on Nash to make plays for them. With all of that in mind: Which players should start alongside Nash, and which should come off the bench to try to create in his absence? It’s a problem that will plague the Suns all season long, and one that I have dubbed “The Hakim Warrick Quandary.”
  • The Mavs are making shots again, which tends to have a positive influence on the offense as a whole. But let’s not get the causalities mixed up here: a big reason why the Mavs are making more of their three-pointers than they were earlier in the season is because those shots are actually resulting from successful offensive sequences. That doesn’t account for all of the open shots the Mavs missed at the start of the year, but taking shots in the flow of the offense really does make a profound difference.
  • I’m still pretty baffled by the way Channing Frye (seven points, 1-5 FG, 1-3 3FG) has crumbled. What makes a good outside shooter suddenly start shooting threes at a 30-percent clip? Any insight, Jason?
  • I wish we could paint Shawn Marion’s success on Monday as some kind of vendetta against the Suns, because those revenge angles can be fun for all parties involved. But this was a game that seemed devoid of any real narrative importance; Phoenix still means something to Marion, but a face-off against a team he barely recognizes wasn’t the reason for his 20 points. It wasn’t the reason for 29-point outing against the Suns a week ago, either. Marion has just been tremendous for the Mavs this season in every role he’s been asked to fill, and on this particular night they needed his scoring to pull away, and whether that came against his former team or not ended up being of little consequence.
  • One of these days, a ferocious Rodrigue Beaubois dunk attempt will actually stay in the basket. Beaubois nearly made the US Airways Center collapse on itself in the first quarter, but alas, Monday night was not the night.
  • That said, Beaubois had a quietly productive game in the wake of his very loud dunk attempt. He’s now hit the seven-assist mark in three consecutive games without turning the ball over much (just a single TO on Monday night), forcing shots, or betraying his defensive effort with bad fouls. The scoring has fluctuated with his utilization, but dare I say that Beaubois is beginning to find consistency?
  • A strong argument against Marcin Gortat’s supposed reliance on Steve Nash: 17 points (7-12 FG), 10 rebounds, and four blocks in just 32 minutes. There’s no question that Nash’s passes make Gortat’s life significantly easier, but he’s a fantastic player with Nash, with Ronnie Price, or with Sebastian Telfair. If the positional rules for the All-Star team were a bit more strict (specifically, if the backup center had to be actually classified as a center), I think Gortat could have a very compelling case. They aren’t and he doesn’t, but boy has he been good.
  • http://twitter.com/KirkSeriousFace Kirk Henderson

    Fun game to watch. Can we teach Delonte West how to fall properly? When he hits the ground its like he died mid air. I hold my breath every time.

  • http://www.metromovingcompany.com/ movers in dallas

    Metro Moving Company offer hourly rates, flat rates, load and unload for Residential, Apartments and Offices. Our moving professionals are real movers that have over 10 yrs of experience.

  • http://www.beautifulsmiledental.com/ San Jose Dentist

    I really like these type of fun games. But here I would like to ask you that I wants to learn more about this game, Can the help me? Thanks.