The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 96, New Orleans Hornets 81

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 8, 2012 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Screen shot 2012-01-07 at 11.35.06 PM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas90.0106.748.632.415.415.6
New Orleans90.045.335.917.122.2

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

  • A win is a win is a win, but this one was hardly glamorous or constructive. There’s certainly nothing wrong with the Mavs getting another game under their collective belt, but we don’t know anything more about Dallas than we did 24 hours ago, and I’m not sure the Mavs know anything more about themselves, either. Here’s three cheers for conditioning and repetitions, but this was a pretty cosmetic win.
  • Ian Mahinmi (13 points, 5-6 FG, seven rebounds, two steals) is making it far too easy for Carlisle to leave Brendan Haywood (two points, six rebounds, one steal) on the bench. Defensively, Mahinmi has been solid, though admittedly imperfect. On offense, he’s done a tremendous job of finding spots on the floor with both open passing lanes and easy scoring opportunities. I don’t think we’re at all near a point where Mahinmi would supplant Haywood as a starter (such a move would be ill-advised for motivational reasons alone), but the games in which Mahinmi logs more playing time than his counterpart are becoming more and more common — and rightfully so.
  • As terrific as Delonte West (12 points on six shots, four assists) has played to start the season, I was still a bit surprised that Rick Carlisle opted to start the game with him as the nominal point guard in Jason Kidd’s absence. It was a good call, mind you — and the right call, if such a thing exists in this case — but still one I didn’t expect him to make this early in the season. West and Vince Carter (who started at the 2) both responded well as starters, and Jason Terry (12 points, 5-9 FG, 2-3 3FG, four assists), and Rodrigue Beaubois (11 points, 4-10 FG, two assists, two steals, two turnovers) contributed nicely off the bench.

  • Dirk Nowitzki’s (10 points, 2-11 FG, two rebounds, four assists) jumper is still looking pretty lame. It’s certainly positive that the Dallas offense is creating good looks for him out of some of their usual sets, but Nowitzki has terribly inconsistent in his capacity to capitalize.
  • To Dirk’s credit, though: Even when his shot isn’t falling, he still attracts plenty of double teams, and has been a smart, willing passer. The Mavs’ shooters haven’t lived up to their billing thus far this season, but the infrastructure is there for some solid offense once those quality attempts start falling.
  • Al-Farouq Aminu had a pretty wild, energetic performance that stuffed the stat sheet in both good ways (15 points, 12 rebounds, four steals) and bad (four turnovers). He did a lot of damage by taking advantage of some of the Mavs’ lazy passes, a troublesome element of the offense that even better defensive opponents will be quick to exploit.
  • But the Mavs worked the turnover game even more aggressively, as they forced 12 turnovers via steal and pushed New Orleans to a 22.2 turnover rate overall. Dallas already ranked fifth in the entire league in opponent turnover rate prior to this game, and somehow have maintained a pretty aggressive defensive approach to counteract their regressed defense overall. Generating more turnovers isn’t the complete answer for the Mavs’ defensive improvement, but if they can maintain this level of mayhem as they continue to improve in rotation, they could have a pretty potent formula.
  • Vince Carter (13 points, 5-11 FG, three rebounds) can still produce in a meaningful role, can still create quality shots, and can still do this:

  • This should be a pretty familiar remark by now, but I’m still impressed with Carter’s effort on the offensive glass. He doesn’t always streak in to fight for loose balls, but he never gives up on plays after driving to the rim. That’s hardly the most noble or altruistic circumstance for an offensive board, but it’s hard to be picky about a wing fighting to create extra opportunities.
  • The Mavs made eight of their 19 attempts from beyond the arc — easily their best three-point shooting performance of the season. With any luck, Dallas may be starting to put their 28.9 percent three-point shooting mark behind them.
  • Dallas struggled from the field overall, though, in part due to some stagnation in their half-court sets. The bailout came courtesy of some beneficial whistles; the Mavs balanced their occasional hesitancy with some smart playmaking and good drives to the rim. Dallas’ 29 free throw attempts were more of a necessity than a benefit, too, as the Mavs needed every one of those trips to the line to counteract their frequent fouling on the defensive end.
  • Brian Cardinal, earning his nickname:

  • Chris Kaman is a fairly solid mid-range shooter, but I’m still not quite understanding the logistics of a lineup featuring him and Emeka Okafor on the floor at the same time, particularly with Carl Landry 1) on the roster, and 2) playing pretty well this season. Landry has some pretty clear faults as a player, but is it really worth sacrificing the fit he provides just to sub in another equally flawed player like Kaman? Monty Williams is a fine coach, but I’m having trouble chasing his logic here.
  • The Mavs weren’t very kind to Okafor, either. Jason Terry threw him to the floor by his neck (on a play that didn’t even grant Okafor free throws, thanks to a preceding charge by Aminu), Brendan Haywood shoved him on a dunk attempt, and Carlisle didn’t hesitate to play Brandan Wright for seven minutes matched up against Oak.
  • Beaubois scored 11 points in 17 minutes…and also shot 10 times in 17 minutes. I don’t want to take away too much from a solid performance from a player who has always had a bit of a volume scorer streak, but Beaubois started to force some things once he felt his hand getting hot. Being aggressive is one thing, and pulling up off the dribble for contested threes is another.