The Difference: New York Knicks 104, Dallas Mavericks 97

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 20, 2012 under Recaps | 6 Comments to Read

Screen shot 2012-02-20 at 10.33.03 AM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas94.0103.251.921.035.017.7
New York110.653.520.934.116.8

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

  • Let this game be a healthy reminder: Although the Mavs typically perform quite well in crunch time, their closing execution isn’t infallible. Jason Terry (13 points, 5-13 FG, six assists, seven rebounds) can still fall prey to a simple missed jumper. A weird defensive sequence can still result in an uncontested Tyson Chandler (14 points, 5-7 FG, 10 rebounds, three blocks) dunk. A lot goes on in the waning moments of a close game, and though Dallas performs in those situations at a higher level than most, they’re not immune to games like this — games when all the magic flows through the heart and hands of an opponent, leaving none for that final, improbable comeback.
  • Two things stuck out to me in this particularly wonderful performance from Jeremy Lin (28 points, 11-20 FG, 3-6 3FG, 14 assists, four rebounds, five steals, seven turnovers): his range and his poise. I, like many others, saw Lin’s occasional three-point makes as an aberration. Lin, after all, is only shooting 32 percent from three-point range to date, even with some alleged outliers inflating his percentage. But there’s something to be said about his confidence beyond the arc, and on this occasion among several others, his impressive accuracy. Maybe he’s a bit streaky from long range at this point in his career, but he’s still emerged from the bench with a reasonably formed jumper, capable of putting pressure on opposing defenses and offering him a crucial tool to play off of Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. But Lin’s poise — in the face of Shawn Marion’s length, in the face of scrambled coverages, in the face of heavy defensive pressure, in the face of a ticking clock — is really and truly remarkable. I don’t think the Mavericks failed as a team defense, largely because Lin didn’t fold under any reasonable amount of defensive pressure. Dallas came in with a strategy, Rick Carlisle altered it on the fly, and it still didn’t pan out. Such can be expected when a team sees a white-hot opponent on the court for (essentially) the first time, and such can certainly be the case with a player as resilient as Lin.
  • Also, as a general footnote on Lin: Don’t sweat the turnovers, at least in terms of Lin’s overall development. Those high turnover marks have a habit of popping up for any aggressive young player, particularly when they’re thrust into a dominant offensive role. Pace, position, and ball dominance all play a big role in bringing Lin’s turnover marks to a swell, even though — on a per-possession basis — his overall turnover marks are comparable to that of Rajon Rondo, Ricky Rubio, and Andre Miller. Curbing those turnovers would do a lot for the Knicks’ offense as a whole, but it’s really not much of an issue so long as Lin remains productive overall.

  • I don’t think anyone save Charles Barkley was legitimately trying to send Dirk Nowitzki (34 points, 11-20 FG, 4-5 3FG, five rebounds, three assists, four turnovers) to the glue factory, but even his most staunch supporters had to simply be in awe of Nowitzki’s dominance on Sunday. We’re beyond Nowitzki merely looking “comfortable,” out there; Dirk is back to pulling off the impossible with incredible regularity, and we’ve all seen what this team is capable of when Nowitzki is clicking on that level. From this point on, the regular season is an exercise in correction and sustenance — the Mavs will work to correct the issues on the periphery to best capitalize from Nowitzki’s prolific scoring, while ensuring that the long game is still squarely in focus.
  • Jason Kidd (eight points, four assists, five rebounds, five turnovers, three steals) didn’t play a particularly effective offensive game, but he did make a handful of remarkably clever plays in the second half. The strength of Kidd’s game has always lied in its subtlety; the occasional threading the needle makes for good highlight fodder, but it’s the seemingly ordinary pass that has made Kidd such an effective playmaker throughout his career. The man lives in the details, and even at this stage in his career, watching Kidd manipulate space, angles, and the defense’s attentions is a privilege.
  • Can we pause for a second to acknowledge the fact that Brendan Haywood grabbed an offensive board, swooped through traffic to the right wing, and dropped in a jumper?
  • Say what you will about Lamar Odom; the man played a bad game, and that deserves to be noted. It’s a shame that flashes of the Odom of old are just that — brief bursts of glory and production, all but destined to fade back into the mire of Odom’s ho-hum campaign as a Dallas Maverick. With Odom, there will always be the potential for more. He’ll never be totally lost in the Mavs’ rotation, because everyone on the planet knows just how effective a basketball player he can be. But it’s certainly sad that performances like this one are now being met with a quiet shrug, while his more substantial outings are seen as fleeting. Whether in Dallas or elsewhere, I hope Odom is able to find that basketball haven within himself again; he’s simply too good of a player — and by all indications, too good of a person — for fans of the game to wish for anything less.
  • http://twitter.com/KirkSeriousFace Kirk Henderson

    I needed to be reminded of the Haywood stepback jumper. That was like a Christmas miracle.

  • http://jtshoopsblog.blogspot.com/ JT's Hoops Blog

    I think almost being traded to the Hornets is still affecting Odom.  that and all the traumatic stuff that happened to him in the off season.

  • I'm so wet!

    Can we get these posts up earlier Rob? I have nothing to do from 8-11 if these aren't up!
    still need to watch the game though lol.

  • Matt Hulme

    I'm taking three major points away from this tragic loss:

    1. This game isn't a harbinger of anything other than our well-known defensive liability at the wing when Kidd and Terry share the backcourt. I lOVE the Matrix, but Marion can't always perform at an All-NBA Defensive level every night when asked to hobble both massive, heavier forwards and quicker, speeder guards. We're gonna miss Delonte, and that may be an understatement over the next few track meet games.2. In the closing moments of any game, but especially yesterday's, JET is a borderline liability at times with his penchant for the dramatic, especially when he seems absolutely determined to showcase his clutch shooting. It's almost like Terry feels he HAS to make at least one big shot every game, or else people will question his closing talent. But the truth is that Terry operates MUCH more effectively at the ALTERNATIVE to Dirk, rather than trying to create those magical moments himself.I may be alone in this thought, but in the final minutes of a close game, I think EVERY possession should work through Dirk. Nobody in the NBA is as clutch or clever in the closing moments, and Dirk is somehow even more wildly efficient and unselfish in those situation. So why, oh why must Jason Terry feel the need to force it, rather than let the shot come to him organically through the offense? Dirk KNOWS when to kick it out, and is a vastly underrated passer, especially when driving into the lane. Jason: Dirk will find you. So get open, wait, and IF the moment calls upon you, I have no doubt you'll shine the brighter. 3. My very first thought when Haywood OWNED that offensive rebound against Chandler and a couple other Knicks, dribbled out of heavy traffic, and nailed that turnaround J? Mahinmi at the end of the third quarter in game six of last year's Finals. The moment I knew we would be champions. (I use “we” in the fandom sense; I know I did not contribute beyond that. I'm not a champion.) After Haywood nailed that (clutch) shot, I was almost certain we were going to walk out with the W, but alas, it wasn't to be. …Lin…

    • http://twitter.com/KirkSeriousFace Kirk Henderson

      You're not alone.  I tend to think that way about Dirk too.  But the Mavs should have never been in that position. Odom's bad play compounds upon itself, with things continually getting worse. Why he wasn't pulled to start the 4th is beyond me, other than maybe minutes. His body language was the worst I've seen from him in weeks.

      • Matt Hulme

        Agreed. If the Mavs were like the Seven Dwarfs, Odom would be four of them: Sneezy, Sleepy, Dopey, and Grumpy.