The Difference: San Antonio Spurs 93, Dallas Mavericks 71

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 6, 2012 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

Screen shot 2012-01-05 at 11.36.24 PM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas89.079.835.720.825.016.9
San Antonio104.548.810.518.09.0

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 Mavs have certainly wasted no time this season in rattling off some truly awful losses. The opening night thud against the Miami Heat was practically expected, even if the magnitude of the beatdown the Mavs suffered was a tad surprising. Hitting a terrific Denver Nuggets team on the next night was a recipe for disaster as well, and the fact that Dallas ran out of gas — especially after struggling in their track meet against Miami in the opener — was fairly predictable. And most recently: though the Mavs were lucky enough to play a Spurs team without Manu Ginobili, they’re struggling against a brutal schedule that practically demands inferior basketball at some points. That doesn’t excuse the loss — much less the blowout — but it does meet a game like this one with a bit of a shrug. Requisite patience, yadda yadda yadda, but the clock is only kind for so long, Mavs.
  • Jason Kidd left in the first quarter with a lower back injury, and did not return for the rest of the game. Though the offense certainly could’ve used his help, that’s not necessarily a bad thing; Kidd started the game by leaving Gary Neal (12 points, 4-7 3FG, five rebounds, two steals) — one of the league’s most prolific outside shooters — open on virtually every possession. That’s never sound policy, and Neal’s quick start was a big reason why the Spurs were able to decimate the Mavs in the first half.
  • Now, if Kidd’s injury becomes a lingering problem and forces him to either miss court time or play through considerable pain, that’s a huge setback. Send him your well wishes, painkillers, and ice packs if you have any interest in the Mavs playing well this season.

  • Kidd wasn’t the only one playing poor D, though. The Spurs dropped 11 three-pointers (on just 18 attempts) in the first half based on the Mavs’ inability to contest perimeter shooters, with Neal, Richard Jefferson (16 points, 5-12 FG, 3-7 3FG, seven rebounds, three assists), and Matt Bonner (17 points, 6-10 FG, 5-9 3FG, six rebounds) providing most of the serious damage. I don’t know that defending the Spurs is ever simple, per se, but there are certain reliable elements of their offense that need to be accounted for at all times. Tony Parker’s penetration. Tim Duncan’s baseline handoffs. And that one facet that’s made oodles and oodles of money for role players now strewn across the league after finding success in San Antonio: the corner three. The Mavs knew those shots were coming, but whether by their exhaustion or laziness, they failed completely in their efforts to stop them.
  • Oh, and Dallas scored at a rate of 79.8 points per 100 possessions, a mark so ridiculously dreadful that it needs no explanation. The Mavs pushed the ball and blew good opportunities. They forced shots out of desperation and missed those, too. They were bad when lethargic, and equally so when aggressive. They got the ball into the hands of all of their best scorers, but no one could make a damn thing. It was just a miserable offensive performance with so very few redeeming qualities. Honestly, 71 points probably makes the Dallas offense seem a bit better than it actually was.
  • The Spurs won a game by 22 points in which they only made 34 percent of their two-pointers. Think about that if you’d like nightmares of the Spurs drive-and-kicking into infinity.
  • To be fair, though, San Antonio’s 39.5 percent shooting from the field in this game is a bit misleading. When we account for three-pointers, the Spurs posted an effective field goal percentage of 48.8 percent — a mark right at the league average this season. It still doesn’t sit well (in fact, it may StandPoor) knowing that Dallas got creamed by merely average shooting efficiency, but it’s a bit more kind than the idea that they were crushed by a team shooting below 40 percent overall.
  • Dirk Nowitzki (six points, 3-11 FG, six rebounds, two turnovers) was pretty terrible on Thursday night. He had open looks aplenty against the scrambling defense of DeJuan Blair, but failed to convert on open jumpers or draw enough contact to be sent to the line. It’s still not an enduring issue, just a temporary hurdle the Mavs are pitifully trying to saddle over while their opponents sprint by them.
  • Jason Kidd did do one thing right: on an early fast break, Kidd managed to look Tim Duncan off of Brendan Haywood, and reverse the ball to Haywood for a free dunk:

  • Jason Terry was probably the best Maverick in the game…and he went 4-of-14 from the field. But at least he was aggressive? It’s hard to praise certain players for merely drowning more slowly than the others.
  • I know the Spurs had a powerful need for a scapegoat last season, but I was never able to make much sense of the blame placed on Richard Jefferson. Maybe Spurs fans expected a more dynamic athlete and shot creator, but I don’t see much problem in having a solid defender and lethal corner three-point shooter capable of wearing other hats from time to time. Maybe he’s not earning his paycheck with that skill set alone, but the Spurs have so much committed salary that picking nits on “overpaid” players misses the boat.
  • Lamar Odom (six points, 3-10 FG, eight rebounds) did some good things early in the game — Remember? When it was only probable that Dallas would get blown out rather than certain? — but smart post kick-outs and decent rebounding effort still isn’t enough. There’s still no need to come down hard on Odom for his gradual acclimation, but it’d be a disservice not to keep a close eye on his performance. That close eye has a raised eyebrow at present.
  • While Odom (and Dirk Nowitzki, and Jason Kidd, and Jason Terry…) struggles, Dallas simply can’t afford minimal production from Shawn Marion (two points, 1-6 FG, six rebounds, two blocks), even if he’s fighting a head cold. This is the fourth time this season Marion has scored eight points or fewer, and Dallas has lost in each of those games. I realize that Marion’s production is reliant on well-timed passes from Kidd in order to validate his slashes through the paint, but the Mavs badly need him to produce some kind of offense on a regular basis. The defense and rebounding have been strong, but Marion is frustratingly capable of more.
  • To the Mavs’ credit, they did come into the third quarter with a lot of energy. They actually contested the Spurs’ shooters out to the three-point line, and held San Antonio to just 11 points in the frame. But all of their energy and effort went to waste, as each stop was met with an errant jumper or a frustrating turnover. By the time the third was over, the Mavs — for all of their comeback enthusiasm — had managed just 13 points of their own.
  • Rough game for Rodrigue Beaubois, who tried his damnedest to be the spark plug the Mavs needed. He only completed one of his eight attempts from the field and committed two turnovers — one a foolish full-court pass that was easily picked off — on the night, and his defense overall was merely passable. That isn’t to say Beaubois didn’t have his moments of greatness on D; the guard with arms for days recorded three blocks in just 21 minutes, continuing Beaubois’ superior efforts to contest runners, layups, and pull-up jumpers. He still gets in a lot of trouble on the pick-and-roll though, as the slightest obstacle on the perimeter can derail him completely.
  • Still, I think it says a lot that Rick Carlisle opted to start — with Kidd in the locker room, mind you — Beaubois in the second half. The confidence is there, Beaubois just needs to find ways to be productive, minimize his mistakes, and channel the instincts that made him so effective as a rookie.
  • On a related note: Carlisle hasn’t found the best lineups for this roster yet, but he’s certainly trying. Once Kidd left the game, Carlisle tried every conceivable backcourt combination possible to trigger Dallas’ offense. None of it worked, but we can at least appreciate the process.
  • Dominique Jones (six points, 2-4 FG) was able to snag a few minutes of court time thanks to Kidd’s injury, and had a fun sequence in which he forced Tony Parker into an eight-second violation before gliding by Tim Duncan for an acrobatic finish:

  • Naturally, Jones followed those two plays by getting torched by Parker off the dribble and forcing Lamar Odom to take a foul to prevent an easy layup. I still like Jones’ skill set and physical play, but he’ll need real court time if he’s ever going to make something of those attributes.
  • Brendan Haywood (six points, six rebounds) played very solid defense on Tim Duncan. No ‘buts.’ No qualifiers. He denied position, got his arms up to challenge Duncan’s shot, and denied the Spurs a real offensive pillar beyond their terrific three-point shooting.
  • Even in the Mavs’ offensive turmoil, Jason Terry and Ian Mahinmi managed to hook up for the pick-and-roll that has become a fun staple of the Mavs’ offense:

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  • Sleep well, Mavs fans: at least Dallas didn’t take part in the worst game of the night.
  • Andrew

    I came her 2 minutes ago an it just popped up lol 11:40