Team Pace Off. Eff. eFG% FTR ORR TOR
Dallas 88.0 103.4 44.4 17.8 39.6 11.0
Los Angeles 109.1 51.3 40.8 37.0 15.9
You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- The Mavs are undoubtedly disappointed in their collective inability to capitalize on the opportunities presented them, but ultimately, this was a pretty commendable effort. Lamar Odom, Delonte West, and Rodrigue Beaubois were out of the lineup, leaving Brian Cardinal (three points, 1-4 FG) and Yi Jianlian (four points, 2-3 FG) to play significant minutes. Pau Gasol played solid defense on Dirk Nowitzki (25 points, 9-22 FG, 12 rebounds), and prevented him from dominating offensively. Dallas shot .250 from beyond the arc, and .400 from the field overall. Yet both teams were deadlocked virtually every step of the way in the second half, a literalization of the seeding battle between Western Conference teams. The Mavs and Lakers are both talented teams capable of making the Western Conference Finals, and the same could be said of about half a dozen other clubs. It’s all going to come down to minor differences in record and the random resulting matchups, much like this particular game was ultimately determined by a thin margin and specific matchup advantages.
- Even in a season of spectacular defensive performances, this may be Shawn Marion’s showpiece. Kobe Bryant (15 points, 4-15 FG, four assists, five rebounds, seven turnovers) is among the toughest covers in the league, but Marion blanketed him step for step, forced him into tough, contested shots, and goaded Bryant into taking long three-pointers born of frustration. You can’t ask for better primary defense on an opponent’s top offensive player, and though Gasol (24 points, 11-18 FG, nine rebounds, four assists, five turnovers) and Andrew Bynum (19 points, 6-10 FG, 14 rebounds, three assists) were able to make up for Kobe’s shackles with highly efficient interior play, Marion’s defense alone gave the Mavs a legitimate chance to win this game. (On a related note: No Maverick needs the All-Star break more than Shawn Marion. I wish him a long weekend of nonexistent mornings, catnaps, and time away from the court.)
- Los Angeles’ role players were able to put up significant contributions due to the Mavs’ inattentiveness, but it was hard to discern whether that inattentiveness was willful in nature. I have a hard time believing that Jason Kidd would leave Derek Fisher (15 points, 6-8 Fg, 2-3 3FG) open time and time again out of pure laziness; there’s no question that the Mavs’ defenders fell asleep on Fisher and Matt Barnes (nine points, 3-7 FG, nine rebounds) from time to time, but I do wonder if many of their openings were by design. Regardless, Fisher made the Mavs pay.
- The Mavs did a masterful job of creating extra possessions with offensive rebounds, but largely failed to capitalize on their bonus spins. Brendan Haywood (six OREBs) and Shawn Marion (seven OREBs) worked their asses off; neither was all that effective in the scoring column, but both were faced with incredibly difficult defensive assignments and nonetheless fought for every possible tip on the offensive glass. Los Angeles is a walking size advantage, but Dallas was able to secure 21 offensive boards, and attempt 14 more field goals than their opponent — a tribute to that rebounding excellence, the Lakers’ consistent turnovers, and the free throw disparity.
- Mike Brown is still figuring out the best ways to use Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol as a tandem, but Wednesday’s game should provide a sufficient blueprint. In terms of skill sets, Bynum and Gasol are wholly compatible, and yet the full actualization of their pairing remains an untapped resource. There are certainly times when the Laker offense struggles to involve all three of its most prominent players on a consistent basis, but this game served of a particularly effective example of just how it can be done. Kobe Bryant may not have put up as many shots as he would’ve liked, but he still played an active role in setting up and maintaining the balance of the Lakers’ offense — or more accurately, in drawing attention and working to put the ball in the hands of L.A.’s dominant post players. Bryant’s deference won’t be consistent, but he’s ultimately a player who can be trusted to make effective basketball plays. He may not fine tune his tendencies by the book, but Bryant understands how to balance an offense on the macro scale, and would likely be a more willing participant if the Lakers could pin down a more specific formula.