The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 104, Minnesota Timberwolves 97

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 11, 2012 under Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

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

  • Jason Kidd (eight points, 2-3 3FG, 10 assists, two steals, eight turnovers) returned to the lineup on Friday after a six-game absence, and brought plenty of good to overpower the unfortunately-too-familiar bad. Those horribly misguided passes are back with a vengeance; though Kidd looks more energetic and better prepared to play than he was previously, he’s still making the same head-scratching blunders that got him into trouble earlier in the season. Those bafflingly bad passes will have to go, and hopefully without penalty to Kidd’s more sensible playmaking endeavors. Kidd’s identification of mismatches and potential advantages was as impeccable as ever (Read: Jason Kidd stays Jason Kidd), and his work as a help defender was nothing short of spectacular. It’s just a matter of hedging the bad to better accent the good at this point, and hopefully Kidd is just a few weeks away from finding a happier balance.
  • The box score makes this game look like a bit of a scoring duel between Dirk Nowitzki (33 points, 11-19 FG, 4-7 3FG, four rebounds, three assists, three blocks, one turnover) and Kevin Love (32 points, 9-18 FG, 12 rebounds, three assists, five turnovers), but both players were scoring as components of their respective teams’ runs rather than the sole proponents of them. Dallas and Minnesota’s bursts of scoring and defense were fairly balanced overall, and though Nowitzki and Love ended up as the most productive players on the court, this game wasn’t some powerful demonstration of their individual brilliance. It was merely the latest exhibit in the ridiculous effectiveness of both players, stretched over a prolonged period of time, and enhanced by fairly complete — if still relatively inefficient — team efforts. (That said: A season-high 33 points on just 19 shots for Nowitzki? Yes, please.)

  • Minnesota’s tendency to field dual-point lineups only accentuates Vince Carter’s (12 points, 4-10 FG, five steals, two turnovers) ability to create mismatches on the block. The Timberwolves were very much aware of Carter’s potential to exploit the much smaller Luke Ridnour (et al), and eventually began throwing schemed double teams at Carter whenever he would begin setting up in the post. For the most part, Carter was able to get the ball out of the double without issue, but he did run into a few problems when he insisted on exploiting the double by way of his own immediate pass. A kick-out to an open man followed by a few swing passes on the perimeter is just as good as a direct feed in those situations, even though the temptation for a cross-court pass to a seemingly open shooter is understandable.
  • Brendan Haywood is still an effective player and defender, but it’s become increasingly clear that he is Rick Carlisle’s third option at center in late-game situations. That make sense for a variety of reasons, unconventional though it may be to see a starter off the floor in crunch time, or to see a center rotation of three players all getting roughly equivalent minutes.
  • The Timberwolves are a quality team as a mean product, but the variance in their in-game performance — from run to lull and back — is likely the most extreme of any team in the league. Whether that’s a product of youth, streakiness, or some combination of factors is anyone’s guess, but it’s impossible not to take note of the gulf that exists between Minnesota’s poles.
  • Dallas did a tremendous job — in the second half, particularly — of forcing and creating out of live-ball turnovers. Those plays present the perfect intersection of defensive effort and potential for efficient offense, which sets an incredibly optimistic precedent for the Mavs’ future performance. There’s no question that Minnesota played a part in their own demise with careless passing and ball handling, but it nonetheless bodes well for Dallas that they were able to create 30 points off of opponent turnovers alone.
  • An unfortunate victim of Kidd’s illustrious return to the lineup: Rodrigue Beaubois, who received a DNP-CD as the odd man out in a loaded backcourt. This is simply the way of it on nights when Kidd, Delonte West, Jason Terry, and Vince Carter all play well enough to demand minutes and stay out of foul trouble. As good as Beaubois has been, this team is deep enough to make him a bit of an afterthought.
  • j0Shi_f

    Don't know if I would agree to the last bullet. Carlisle let West/JET play through a 7-19 stretch in the 3rd. Can't exactly say that this is “playing well enough to demand minutes.” Odom was a big part of the whole mess, but still: Especially Terry was atrocious until he posted a >30 PER in the 4th and ended up as one of four players that statistically didn't contribute to the win.

    • Rob Mahoney

      “Demand” could certainly be strong, but West played solid D and JET's offense was crucial to the Mavs' second-quarter buoyancy. Neither player was at their most brilliant, but both were good enough to give Carlisle reason to stick with them. If anything, that's even worse news for Beaubois; they are — and will be — the defaults, and unless they fall off a cliff for an evening, they'll still get floor time.