The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 100, Orlando Magic 98

Posted by Rob Mahoney on March 31, 2012 under Recaps | 18 Comments to Read

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Box Score — Play-by-Play — Shot Chart — Game Flow

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

  • In recaps as short as this one, I generally try to make it a point not to focus too much on the game-winning plays or sequences; I’m a firm believer in the fact that clutch value is more or less an arbitrary construction — one that brings plenty of entertainment, no doubt, but still counts no more than the 45 (or some odd) minutes that preceded it. Dirk Nowitzki’s go-ahead bucket on Friday night qualifies as a clear exception, in a sense, although the shot made matters far less than what it means. In a playoff picture this muddled and this competitive, Dallas needed a game like this. They fought hard, even in the face of deficits. They played well enough. They kept pace with a quality opponent, and didn’t let a competitive game slip away. And finally, they caught a stroke of luck. Nowitzki has hit more than his fair share of legitimate game-winners over the course of his career, but the serendipitous bounce off the glass on this particular shot was surely a gift of the basketball gods. Dirk played the post-shot celebration like a pro, but based on the excessive awkwardness of his form and the way Nowitzki tried to draw contact, we have every reason to believe that a bank wasn’t part of his plans. It happens, and Hedo Turkoglu will likely be left shaking his head for a week. But Dallas gets a much-needed pick-me-up at a crucial time in the season; as impossible as it sounds, the Mavs are in real jeopardy of missing the playoffs. With that possibility in mind, it’s more crucial than ever that the Mavs keep their heads on straight — momentum can be a tricky thing, and its unexpected gems like this one (or more importantly, the avoidance of a hard-fought effort that ends in a slim loss) that keep the rudder straight.
  • Another thought, less relevant to the game than to the Orlando Magic in general: When we make a point of saying that Orlando “lives and dies by the three,” how is that functionally different from the operation of any other team? Some live and die with their rebounding, some live and die with their turnovers, and some live and die with their post play, but why is there a perception that three-point shooting is particularly erratic?
  • 777

    This writer doesnt know anything about Dirk Nowitzki or the whole basketball in that matter.

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

      The writer also writes for the NYT and 4 other websites. If you don't visit the site often, look around and examine how “The Difference” is even composed. Sure, 2 bullet points doesn't feel like enough for a game like this, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.  Please make your criticisms valid, instead of simply saying “this writer sucks and is a moron”.

      • 777

        “Sure, 2 bullet ponts doesnt feel like enoough for a game like this, but that's the way cookie crumbles”. In another word, the writer is lazy and you must be his bitch.

        • EndlessPat

          You're a real gem. To borrow a phrase, “You don't know anything about Dirk Nowitzki or the whole basketball [sic] in that matter” if you think Rob Mahoney doesn't have a firm handle and valuable perspective on the Mavs. Visit this blog, you know, ever? Ever see Rob's extensive writing on the Mavs here and in other places? Maybe snoop around and have a peek at a few of his insights and then take a second to google appropriate use of prepositions in idioms while you're at it.

          Thank you for your time. 

          • 777

             I lost the respect for the writer after I read “Nowitzki has hit more than his fair share of legitimate game-winners
            over the course of his career, but the serendipitous bounce off the
            glass on this particular shot was surely a gift of the basketball gods.” Dirk is the most clutch player in NBA as of now, and if you think his fade-away bank shot is the work of god, you haven't seen much of what Dirk is capable of doing.  Just because it is not on the ESPN Sportscenter, it doesn't mean he hasn't done it.

          • http://www.thetwomangame.com/ Rob Mahoney

            Be nice. It's perfectly fine to disagree, but let's keep things civil — especially with regard to other commenters.

            My assertion wasn't that Dirk doesn't hit big shots or that he doesn't hit bankers — merely that I'm not sure he intended to go glass on this particular look. Nowitzki typically has a certain cadence to his step-back, but on this shot, it appears as though he's playing the contact from Turkoglu (forearm) as a foul; this looks far more like an attempt to get the ball up to draw a shooting foul than a legitimate attempt. 

            Dirk just looks off-balanced here even by his standards, and the angle of the bank on this shot isn't at all consistent with his usual high-angled attempts. 

            I'm generally in awe of Dirk's exploits, but I'm pretty sure he got lucky on this one. As I said, it happens; it's not taking anything away from Nowitzki, just as it isn't making this any less of a legitimate win.

          • 777

            Fair enough, Rob.  You should watch these videos.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

            All of them are as off angled and as off balanced as his bank shot winner vs Magic.

          • http://www.thetwomangame.com/ Rob Mahoney

            I still see completely different shots; Dirk's banking pretty high off the glass on those looks, but made a very different kind of attempt on Friday. Just a matter of opinion, I s'pose.

            Here's what Dirk had to say about whether or not he called class in his post-game interviews:

            “We will never know. The good thing is I shoot it off the glass a lot. So now I will have everybody guessing. I put a little extra arc on it and it fell in.”

          • 777

             There is no way he was playing for contact.  When Dirk is trying to draw contact, he will always pump fake.  In that play, he didn't pump fake, and he also faded away to shoot. It will be hard to draw contact when you are fading away, don't you think? Bottom line is all his one leg fade away looks terrible but most of them go in.  Benefited from some luck but mostly practice.

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

             Instead of using two comments to insult both me and the blog writer, why not make this point from the beginning? It's a valid and interesting disagreement, and I got to watch a variety of Dirk bank shots in the process. A win-win as I see it.

  • Andrew

    I usually love your recaps, but I generally disagree with your perception of this game.  I thought Dallas did a poor job closing out on Orlando's shooters, and most of Orlando's 32 three point attempts were open (Dallas was just lucky Orlando missed 21 of them).  Kidd and Carter both looked slow and were not rotating or keeping up with Nelson or J-Rich at all.  Furthermore, Dallas's offense was stagnant at times, especially in the first quarter when they relied on isos for their offense.  Also, Dallas had two huge defensive breakdowns on the last game and were very lucky that Turk missed an open three and Anderson missed a bunny at the buzzer. 

    And you didn't even mention Delonte West, who did an amazing job (1) creating offense (2) playing good d on Nelson and (3) closing out on shooters.

    • http://www.thetwomangame.com/ Rob Mahoney

      It was far from a perfect game, so let me clarify: I don't think this was a positive outing in terms of execution, but I do think a win was much-needed considering how the Mavs have played of late and how difficult their schedule is going forward. Dallas needs to play better, but they also needed Dirk's shot to drop.

      To put it another way: it's not a moral victory, it's a morale victory. It doesn't count for anything more than a win, but it does give this team a little boost in the midst of a tough stretch.

      Loved West's performance, though — very impressive that he was able to round back into form so quickly.

      • Andrew

        Thanks for the reply Rob.  If I ever am not civil I hope you know it is in good faith.  I love your blog and everything about your writing style.  I do think this was a ”morale victory” too. 

  • Andrew

    In sum, I didn't really see much “fight” from Dallas, unless you are only talking about Delonte West, Jason Terry, and Ian Mahinmi.

  • Jeffrey Thompson

    This was definately an excellent confidence booster for the Mavs beating on of the Eastern Conference's best on their own home court.

  • Andrew

    Rob Mahoney is a busy man and can't make 15 bullet points for every game.  Especially with his success in the blogging world.  I wish him all the best and I wish 777 would stop posting.

    • Shmichael

      It's okay.  clearly 777 has never seen the great dexter pittman and lamar odom posting on this blog.

  • Jacob

    Some thoughts on the game. 

    1. I read this post before watching the game, so I was pay attention that last shot. While it banked differently than Dirk's normal shots off glass, I still thought the shot was deliberate and I didn't think Dirk was trying to draw contact. 
    2. Shawn Marion kind of owned Dwight Howard on those floaters. He was 4-4 or 5-5 on floaters over D12. Now the mystery is why he couldn't make a chippie over Udonis Haslem the previous night. 
    3. Terry is really fast or famine, not only from one night to the next but even one play to the next. The possession at the end of the first half where he ran out of clock made me think of the possessions at the end of the Thunder game. But in the fourth quarter he went nuts. I've given up on trying to guess how Jason Terry is going to play. He makes more boneheaded plays than anyone else on the team, but he also blows away expectations on a semi-regular basis.
    4. I'm really impressed with Delonte after he's been back. You don't expect the bi-polar guy to be (one of?) the mentally toughest dude(s) on the team, but he is. But one of the biggest things he brings to the offense is his quick passes. The ball doesn't stick to him. He doesn't stop to see whether he might have a good look. As soon as the ball comes to him he makes the right pass (usually to Dirk). Kidd has a better sense of how plays will develop or how to create a pass that's not there, but West is really good at making the immediate play and saving precious shot clock.