The Difference: Golden State Warriors 111, Dallas Mavericks 87

Posted by James Herbert on March 11, 2012 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

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.

  • There aren’t a lot of positives to take from a loss like this, except for the fact that it’s probably not all that representative of anything. The reality: the Mavs are now the third team this season to lose all three games of a back-to-back-to-back. At 23-20, they’ve dropped eight of ten and would occupy the West’s final playoff spot if the season ended today. Fortunately, the season doesn’t end today. This brutal stretch of nine games in 12 nights is over and I’m closer to the Mark Cuban “these losses are meaningless” school of thought than the “Dallas is a disaster” stance that clean-shaven Sam Mitchell took on NBA TV Friday night. Brendan Haywood will be back soon, Delonte West after that, and we’ll look for incremental improvements over the next month or so.
  • Oh, Jason Kidd will be back soon, too. He was a late scratch. No need to play the soon-to-be 39-year-old on three straight nights. This meant we were treated to a starting backcourt of Jason Terry and Dominique Jones, with Rodrigue Beaubois and Vince Carter theoretically adding scoring punch off the bench. For JET, it was his first start since last January. For Jones, it was the first of his career. Also, this was Terry’s 1000th career regular season game.
  • For the second night in a row, Dallas looked old and slow and fell behind early to a non-playoff team. The Warriors scored the first six points of the game and Rick Carlisle took his first timeout with 6:31 left in the first, down 11-5. The Mavs’ legs were dragging from the opening tip, while the Warriors, who hadn’t played since Wednesday, were full of energy, even if it wasn’t always channeled correctly. The Mavs started the first quarter shooting 2-13 and finished it 6-22.
  • That energy I talked about? Much of it came from Ekpe Udoh, who was running and jumping and contesting shots all over the place. Early in the first, he challenged a Dirk Nowitzki jumper, then blocked Ian Mahinmi’s follow attempt. He blocked a Nowitzki shot a few possessions later. He should become a Serge Ibaka-like league-wide fan favorite as soon as the Warriors are relevant.
  • The first quarter wasn’t all one-sided and it wasn’t just the Mavericks being sloppy — both teams had six turnovers in the opening frame. After that timeout with 6:31 left, Rodrigue Beaubois and Lamar Odom checked in. Both immediately hit threes and tied the game at 11. But in the last 3:31, Golden State went on a 13-2 run. For the rest of the game, Dallas was playing catch-up.

  • I was looking for a bounceback game from Vince Carter after he was invisible in Sacramento. I did not find one. The Mavs were searching for anyone to step up and give them something and it felt like he could have made a difference. Part of me wants to point out that it has been weeks since we could call him “reliable” and the other part of me wants to ignore that because he’s 35 and this was game number three in three nights, five in six, nine in twelve.
  • Bad things happened when the Mavs bigs’ got the ball inside, especially early when there weren’t any fouls being called. There were turnovers and missed gimmes. Dallas finished the game 13-32 in the paint.
  • Monta Ellis was phenomenal. In the first half, he took a back seat on offense and set his teammates up with seven assists. Then he exploded for 15 points in the third on a combination of drives and threes. He’s so often knocked for his lack of efficiency, but this was essentially a perfect Ellis game: 20 points on 7-11 fg, plus eight assists and three steals. Sure, there were four turnovers, but you take that.
  • Speaking of turnovers, yeesh. There were tons of them on the Mavs’ end. Dallas finished with 21, which resulted in 22 Warrior points. Somehow, that second number feels low.
  • David Lee almost outscored the Mavericks in the first quarter with 13 points to their 15. He finished with 25 on 16 shots, plus nine rebounds. He’s a tremendous offensive player, a fact obscured by everyone constantly talking about his defensive deficiencies. Tonight, he actually did a good job of staying with Nowitzki and contesting his jumpers, though I did write down the following note after a stop in the fourth quarter: “Fine, David Lee is actually guarding Dirk kind of well. But if Dirk was Dirk, he’d be Dirking him.” So there’s that.
  • When your jumpers aren’t falling, you need to try to win ugly. This is why the Mavs’ second quarter was heartening: they shot 12-14 from the line, accounting for almost half of their points in the period. A lot of it was Nowitzki, who went 5-6 from the line and scored 12 of his points that quarter. Dallas needed to keep this going later in the game and they didn’t.
  • Sidenote: remember Kidd complaining about calls? Yeah, there are many reasons that the Mavs lost this game and officiating was definitely, definitely not one of them.
  • Nowitzki tried. He finished with 22 points on 16 shots, which is more than respectable. But qualitatively he looked more like Early Season Dirk Nowitzki than the dude who was rolling along a couple of weeks ago. He did well, offensively, for an exhausted guy.
  • Seven of Klay Thompson’s 13 points came in a three-minute span in the second quarter. Two of those points came when he stole the ball from Nowitzki and went coast-to-coast for a layup. I almost tweeted something about Michael Jordan’s steal on Karl Malone and then I thought better of it.
  • The Mavs ended the second quarter on a 14-6 run in the last 3:34. The recipe: Nowitzki touches and a lack of turnovers. It came out of nowhere — they were only down 10 at the half and it felt like they should’ve been down 20.
  • Dallas got lucky in the third quarter when Dorell Wright missed a wide open layup and Terry banked in a desperation three over Udoh. At the time it sort of felt like they could build on these breaks, but Ellis had an answer for everything.
  • The Warriors shot 5-6 on threes in the third, the Mavericks shot 4-8. There was a scoring sequence that went Terry 3pt — Ellis 3pt — Nowitzki fadeaway — Ellis 3pt — Terry 3pt. This was fun.
  • In his first game back in the starting lineup, Stephen Curry sprained his ankle in the third quarter. I hated watching this. I hated watching the replays more. Ankle injuries suck, Curry’s repeated sprains terrify me, and I’m mad at the Warriors for throwing him back in the lineup for tomorrow’s game.
  • Nate Robinson (and Ellis, obviously) stepped up in Curry’s absence. With just over three minutes left in the third, Robinson saved a ball from going out of bounds and hit a corner three to put Golden State up by 14. He then scored the Warriors’ last seven points of the quarter as the Mavs self-destructed.
  • There was a cool shot of Carter and Robinson talking coming out of a timeout late in the third. In my head, they were discussing how awful this year’s dunk contest was. Apparently, they were actually talking about an earlier play.
  • Terry had some kind of third quarter: 12 of his 15 points, FIVE of his SEVEN turnovers. Yeah. When he wasn’t hitting threes (he was 4-5 and didn’t take any twos or get to the line), he was coughing the ball up. I can’t even give Golden State credit for forcing the turnovers. He just kept passing the ball away or losing it. A weird game for him after the whole “it’s time for a change” thing, but at least his postgame comments were positive this time — via Tim McMahon: “The communication is back. After that tough Phoenix loss, we aired a lot of things out. We’re on the same page now.” Wait, why is he referencing the Phoenix loss when he was venting after the Sacramento game? I’m confused.
  • The Warriors picked up three fouls less than two minutes into the fourth quarter. It was like they were trying to give the Mavs one last shot to make a run. But then the Mavs went back to shooting threes.
  • Just under nine minutes left, this was still a game. A Beaubois three made it 88-75, then Udoh hit a fadeaway and Nowitzki responded with a jumper of his own. That’s when it all went to hell: Nate Robinson threw maybe the best pass I’ve ever seen him make on the break to Brandon Rush for a dunk to make it a 15 point game. Then Nowitzki airballs a jumper, Nate dribbles for a thousand years and then drives right on Beaubois and banks in a crazy runner. I’m an objective observer here, but if I was a Mavs fan this would have been the most frustrating moment of the night. Carslisle threw in the towel shortly thereafter.
  • After Yi Jianlian vs. Hassan Whiteside Friday, we got to see Yi vs. Jeremy Tyler. Yay?
James Herbert is a contributor to Hardwood Paroxysm, the producer of HoopSpeak Live, the author of The Daily Peep, and the co-host of Pod Shammpod. You can follow James on Twitter: @outsidethenba.

  • Kirk Henderson

    Motion to start referencing James as “Big Game James”.

    Terry just needs to stop talking, stop making poor choices and play within himself.  He can reserve his batcrap crazy town stuff for the playoffs when we need people to play unhinged.