The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 95, New York Knicks 85

Posted by Rob Mahoney on March 7, 2012 under Recaps | 4 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
New York88.541.727.428.016.7

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

  • Execution is always a matter of great importance, but from opening tip this game came to be defined by the Mavs’ energy. Dallas came out of the gates with an insistence on beating New York in transition on offense and curtailing fast break opportunities on defense, perhaps best showcased by Ian Mahinmi (nine points, six rebounds, three steals, two blocks) flying back and forth across the court (for a block in transition, for a soaring rebound, for a gliding dunk, etc.). As Dallas’ energy waned, New York’s defense picked up and capitalized. The Mavs’ most successful stretches of basketball were dictated by their energy and assertiveness, and though those things were indicative in small differences in approach (Shawn Marion being more aggressive as a fast-break ball-handler, Rodrigue Beaubois looking to get to the rim, Jason Kidd not being gun-shy) than consistent, over-arching tropes, they were still very evident nonetheless.
  • It’s in that vein that I do have praise for Lamar Odom, in spite of a miserable shooting night and an otherwise neutral stat line. If nothing else, Odom played hard — and considering where he and his mind have been in the last few weeks, I think that’s an acceptable step. It doesn’t make 1-of-9 shooting okay, but under the circumstances the bigger issue is Odom’s commitment to the team and to the game. He has the talent to produce more, and if he’s engaged, he will.
  • Shawn Marion and the Mavs’ collective defense did a great job against Carmelo Anthony. It felt as though Anthony was actually getting to his favorite spots on the floor with some ease, but once at the rim or in his pet zones, rarely did he put up a shot attempt without a hand in his face. This was particularly true inside, where the Mavs’ interior defenders swarmed Anthony as early as possible. He was blocked from behind, forced to contort, and ultimately, held to six points on 12 shot attempts. Some of that is the natural process of the Knicks’ offense feeling itself out, but the Mavs did an outstanding job of capitalizing on some of the disarray and made Anthony a non-factor.

  • Resilience is a common theme with Dirk Nowitzki (28 points, 8-18 FG, three rebounds), and though the Knicks’ defense did a terrific job of forcing Nowitzki into some insanely difficult shots (even by his standards), sometimes the man just cannot be stopped from pouring in 11 points in the last five minutes. For what it’s worth, New York — in general — defends Nowitzki better than most. They pressure him well, recover off the double, and prevent him from getting established. Yet Nowitzki will always have the power to make defense irrelevant in his back pocket — that transcendent scoring quality that empowers a precious few. This was “one of those nights,” as it were, and though Nowitzki played an invisible first half, he was able to get the touches and hit the (frankly, impossible) shots needed down the stretch.
  • I will forever be amused by how unapologetically Baron Davis Baron Davis is. Behind that beard is a man perfectly at peace with himself despite his many basketball flaws, and though that won’t stop me from rolling my eyes every time he pulls up a few feet behind the three-point line, it’s at least a bit admirable that he’s so strongly tethered to his natural center. Kudos to him for making it all work.
  • One fun side-effect of Brendan Haywood’s injury: Rick Carlisle’s willingness to fiddle with some really interesting lineup configurations. We got to see a nice stretch of the Terry-Odom-Carter-Beaubois-Marion lineup, which is as deeply fascinating a reserve lineup as you’ll find in the NBA. There’s so much going on there, and while that grouping of bigs won’t work against every opponent, it’s not uniquely disadvantaged against the Knicks.
  • Dallas fans should find much comfort in the officiating after Tuesday night’s game (video via Ben Golliver):

  • Rodrigue Beaubois (18 points, 6-11 FG, 2-6 3FG) is no stranger to the occasional moment of splendor, but this game marked a more prolonged, productive excellence than we’re used to seeing from Beaubois. He may not have done much in the fourth (then again, what non-Dirk Maverick did?), but his scoring was otherwise consistent throughout, and he finished on what amounts to a point-a-minute performance. His floater was falling, he was able to get to the rim, and his jumper was true — just to complete the picture. Beaubois may be a bit more deliberate in his sauntering toward every-game relevancy, but he’s getting there, and at a time when the Mavs desperately need him to contribute, no less. Les gens ont des étoiles qui ne sont pas les mêmes. Pour les uns, qui voyagent, les étoiles sont des guides. Pour d’autres elles ne sont rien que de petites lumières. Pour d’autres qui sont savants elles sont des problèmes. Pour mon businessman elles étaient de l’or. Mais toutes ces étoiles-là se taisent. Toi, tu auras des étoiles comme personne n’en a…
  • Iman Shumpert (five points, 2-4 FG, three assists, three steals, two rebounds, three turnovers) has such wonderful value as a fill-in-the-gaps offensive player, and it’s reassuring to see him be more choosy with his shot attempts in a game like this one. The Knicks’ offense on the whole struggled a bit, but Shumpert has at times this season actively sabotaged his team’s chances in those moments of vulnerability with his wild offensive style. There’s no question that he has a future as a first-rate defender, but his defensive excellence must be met with his own offensive restraint. Shumpert may benefit more from a fully healthy, established scoring structure more than any other Knick. He’s not a player who can step up in case of an injury to Carmelo Anthony; he’s the player who goes off the rails when asked to do too much.
  • Jason Kidd (15 points, 3-6 3FG, six assists, four rebounds, four turnovers) not only posted season-highs in field goal attempts and points, but also likely in drives to the basket. When was the last time we saw Kidd drive to the rim twice in the same game? That’s surely an omen of some kind, right?
  • Matt Hulme

    Good recap as always, Rob.

    I was at the game last night (alas, if only I could afford season tickets), and as the game wore on, the fans became less patient and more hostile toward Odom, while at the same time seeming to grow more and more pro-Lin. Now, granted there were more Knicks fans in the AAC than I can ever recall before (though at Reunion Arena, this was more common), and for obvious reasons, but it was weird watching the crowd simultaneously boo and cheer whenever Lin made/missed a shot or made a good/bad play.

    All of that is to say, I did my best from my seat to get the fans around me to NOT boo Odom. I could see the effort was there; if it wasn't, I doubt he would've taken as many shots, but far too often, it appeared Lamar was settling for floaters or layups that got hung up on the front of the rim. The guy's 6'10″; he needs to put it above the rim. He gets blocked and/or misses far too often by letting it go below. He did make a few boneheaded decisions, but I do believe he's genuinely trying, but not yet fully in the here and now. But booing doesn't help him get there. He KNOWS he's struggling, and for a guy with a (seemingly) fragile psyche, having his own fans unsupportive of him will only makes things worse.

    Everyone who keeps calling for us to trade/give him away for what amounts to nothing? What good does that bring us? He's a talented, Championship-caliber veteran who's versatile enough to play point in spurts or body up and back 'em down in the paint. And even if he's only at 75% come playoff time, I'll happily have him suit up each and every night. It won't hurt us, I promise.

    Oh, and finally, THAT'S the way you close a game. FEED THE GERMAN.

  • Howard

    So Jason dicovered he can dribble towards the basket? For the longest tome I thought he only went side to side because he thought they'd whistle him for false start or offsides.
    This could be the start of something!

  • Lamar Odom

    A couple things.  First on your assessment of me putting in effort.  Did you notice Mark Cuban yelling at me to hustle?  I glared back at him with disdain cause he's an owner, not the great Lamar Odom.
    Also, I think Jason Kidd really wanted to stick it to Jeremy Lin.  I've not seen him play this aggressively on both offense and defense against another player.  He seemed to really want to take him to school.
    And who is this Harrelson guy?  He played a lot more than I expected down the stretch.  I know he had a +13 for the game, but often times that statistic can be very misleading.  I felt like he really did nothing this game.  He was just kind of there.  But when I saw that line, I was very impressed with a +13.

    The question I ask myself every night is, “Am I a Mav or am I a Muppet?”  Because if I'm a Mav that makes me a Muppet of a Mav.

    • Matt Hulme

      Hey Lamar, while I have you, one quick idea:

      How 'bout you strap on your big boy pants, leave the tissues and issues at home (or at least in Khloe's purse), and keep hustling without the drama? If you do, and you help us deep into the playoffs, I promise you, this time next year you'll be making good money back home in L.A. with the mighty Staples Center champion Clippers.

      Thanks! You stay classy!