The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 97, Portland Trail Blazers 94

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 12, 2012 under xOther | Read the First Comment

Screen shot 2012-02-11 at 11.27.51 PM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot Chart – Game Flow

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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.

  • There are games so good they’re worthy of extra minutes, and then there was the painful war of attrition between the Mavs and Blazers on this particular Saturday night. Dallas typically pens a loving letter to the game of basketball with each perfectly executed late-game possession, but the final touches of this particular victory were predicated on seeing how many jumpers Raymond Felton (nine points, 4-17 FG, three turnovers) could be tricked into taking and how many tough, pull-up jumpers Delonte West (10 points, 5-11 FG, four assists, four steals, three turnovers) could convert in a row. That ended up working out just fine, but not before both teams missed and fumbled and effectively blew possession after possession. This wasn’t at all an unwatchable game (the Mavs’ first-half offense was actually quite productive, and the Blazers’ pressure D in the second-half kept things pretty interesting), but neither team played well, and the ticking clock turned the entire affair into a pressure cooker. Dallas ultimately ended up managing the chaos a bit better than Portland did, but I have a hard time saying that the Mavs really played significantly better basketball than their opponents.

  • It’s a genuine curiosity that Portland didn’t operate through LaMarcus Aldridge (33 points, 14-26 FG, 12 rebounds, one turnover) on every single offensive possession in both overtimes. Nate McMillan’s teams are typically fantastic at running plays that put the best players in a position to succeed and rely on those players to create (via scores in their comfort zone, passes out of double-teams, etc.), but the Blazer offense was entirely too reliant on Felton and Jamal Crawford (19 points, 6-23 FG, three turnovers) down the stretch. I don’t mean too harp too much on the final 10 minutes alone, but considering how good of a shot creator Aldridge has become, the Blazers’ closing possession distribution was pretty indefensible. Dallas defended Aldridge with Brendan Haywood for much of the game, and despite Haywood’s best efforts to contest shots, deny position, and limit angles for potential hook shots, Aldridge converted bucket after bucket. The man only forced both overtime periods with difficult, contested scores, after all. I’m not precisely sure who should be to blame for Portland’s uncharacteristic misuse of resources (McMillan? Crawford? Felton? Aldridge himself? LeBron James?), but someone in the Blazers’ locker room has some ‘splaining to do.
  • Dirk Nowitzki (20 points, 7-20 FG, nine rebounds) couldn’t contribute much in the second half, but there doesn’t seem to be much reason for legitimate concern. Shawn Marion (14 points, 5-14 FG, 12 rebounds) buzzed in the background throughout the game and put together a predictably quiet — but very impactful — performance. Jason Terry (19 points, 8-13 FG, six turnovers) created key baskets when the Mavs desperately needed them. Rick Carlisle played the right cards at the right times, with his late-game insertion of West proving to be a game-changer. Yet two other Mavs deserve a good share of the spotlight. Lamar Odom’s final line (10 points, 4-5 FG, five rebounds) could only optimistically be dubbed as ‘whelming,’ but he nonetheless generated some quality offense off the dribble for Dallas. Not all of his successes resulted in baskets, but smart driving and good defensive energy is worthy of note for Odom, depressing though that idea may be. The other is Jason Kidd (five points, eight assists, eight rebounds, two turnovers), who slashed his mistakes, and made two particularly brilliant leading passes to Nowitzki and Terry for easy scores. Kidd didn’t have much luck staying in front of Jamal Crawford on the defensive end, but his passing precision more than made up for his iffy foot speed.
  • David

    Great commentary as usual. Also, loving your infusion of Simmons-like cynicism and sarcastic humor.

    A few things:
    1.) LA truly was a BEAST. He was absolutely unstoppable when they isolated him on the low block (and Haywood's defense seemed pretty solid to boot). His combination of quickness, strength, and wide array of post moves was truly a pleasure to watch. In addition, I wanted to give him props for his admirable efforts on the defensive end, particularly in guarding Dirk. 
    2.) Thought the Mavs did a good job persisting/insisting on getting Dirk the ball (especially late in the game, and even though he wasn't knocking down shots consistently). Great to see Dirk so fired up after that last shot, too. We also did a respectable job on the offensive glass, something that has been an issue thus far.
    3.) Thought the Mavs did a poor job allowing the Blazers guards to drive to the basket. This was particularly obvious out of pick situations, where guards were allowed SO much space. Offensively, and particularly in the second half, we looked pretty sloppy with the ball (I'm looking at you JET).
    4.) Maybe I'm nuts, but did anyone notice how many times the Mavs played good D and forced the Blazedogs into a tough shot inside the final 3 seconds on the shot clock… only for Portland to make the basket. Incredibly frustrating.
    5.) Also, what happened to Vince Carter late in the game. I recognize he wasn't playing great early on, but especially given our lack of offensive potency late in the game, wouldn't Carlisle want to at least give him a shot?