The Difference: Los Angeles Lakers 109, Dallas Mavericks 93

Posted by Rob Mahoney on March 22, 2012 under Recaps | 12 Comments to Read

Screen Shot 2012-03-22 at 12.47.16 AM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
San Antonio110.654.012.528.613.8

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

  • The basketball gods had seemingly arranged a game for Andrew Bynum to dominate, and yet just about every Laker but Bynum (nine points, 4-5 FG, seven rebounds) dominated. Some credit goes to the Mavs for throwing an extra defender Bynum’s way quickly, but this was no defensive victory; as much as I would love to shower praise on Ian Mahinmi and Brandan Wright (who, to be clear, did play effective defense), Bynum’s lack of shot attempts was purely a product of the Lakers’ otherwise dominant offense. It certainly didn’t seem as if L.A. was too focused on establishing Bynum on the block via re-post — and it didn’t matter a bit, as the Lakers’ off-ball movement ended up deciding the game.
  • In Shawn Marion and Delonte West’s absence, Jason Kidd was forced to take primary on-ball responsibility against Kobe Bryant (30 points, 11-18 FG, five rebounds, four assists, four turnovers). He honestly did what he could; there have been games this season where Kidd’s defensive effort is fleeting, but this was not one of them. He bodied Bryant when he could, tried to deny him the ball as much as possible, and yet few of his efforts produced favorable defensive outcomes. There were many instances in which Kidd played textbook defense only to be bested by Kobe being Kobe — a demonstration of dominance that at once must be both maddening and shrug worthy. Bryant worked hard to free himself up for quality shot attempts, and though not all of his shots were carefully chosen, it was hard to fault this particular process (particularly when juxtaposed with Bryant’s occasional ball-dominating ways).
  • Both teams started this game with a ridiculous, extended rally of mid-range jumpers. The Mavericks merely failed to adapt once those shots stopped falling, and as for the Lakers — well, I’m not sure those shots ever did. It was just jumper after jumper after jumper, largely produced through quality play action.
  • Jason Terry (23 points, 8-14 FG, 3-6 3FG, zero turnovers) is a masterful practitioner of the pick and roll, and though his ball-handling judgment has been questionable in recent weeks, his approach was perfectly on-point on Wednesday. Los Angeles trapped Terry fairly hard in pick-and-roll situations, but he managed to play his way out of and around them. JET walked the line of aggressive scoring and steady playmaking with perfect balance, a fact betrayed by Terry’s misleading goose egg in the assist column. Don’t be fooled; Terry did an excellent job of messing up his teammates, even if some unfortunate misses robbed him of any box score glory.

  • Well, this was just silly:

  • Dirk Nowitzki put up 26 points on 24 shots, and yet it still felt as though he struggled. Some of that undoubtedly stems from the fact that Nowitzki not only missed very makeable shots, but missed a ton of them; Dirk’s 14 missed field goals on Wednesday tied his season high (from a mirrored 10-of-24 night in the February 20th win over Boston), a testament to Nowitzki efficiency through struggles and all.
  • Ramon Sessions (17 points, 7-8 FG, 3-4 3FG, nine assists, five rebounds) stole the show early (he finished the first half with 12 points and seven assists), and proved to be everything the Lakers needed him to be: an aware ball-handler, a solid outside shooter, and a patient playmaker. Some of Sessions’ successes may have been more exaggerated in this game than they would be over a larger sample size (the shooting, in particular), but I’m a fan of his pick-and-roll savvy and see him fitting in quite well with the Lakers. I know that’s hardly a radical opinion, but with Sessions there isn’t much room for overstatement or understatement; he’s as matter-of-fact as playmakers come.
  • Plus, Sessions’ few miscues for the evening seemed rooted in his lack of familiarity. A 1-2 pick and roll Sessions ran with Bryant late in the third quarter comes to mind, as Sessions anticipated Bryant’s roll and ended up making a bounce pass into empty space. Those kinds of errors will disappear as Sessions acclimates himself to the preferences of his new teammates.
  • Lamar Odom was entirely reduced to being a spot-up guy. Not a spot-up shooter — just a spot-up guy. He parked himself on the perimeter — spacing the floor in theory, I suppose — for entire possessions at a time, and didn’t get all that many touches as a result. I want so badly to take it easy on Odom, but this is getting ridiculous; Rick Carlisle has given him miles of leeway, and yet 43 games into the season we have yet to see any kind of sustained spark. Inconsistency is one thing, but Odom’s lack of effort — in a matchup in which he had everything to prove, no less – is completely pitiful. I won’t fault another man for dealing with his problems in whatever way he wishes, but I will say that this particular man is playing a brand of basketball so apathetic as to be altogether disrespectful to an organization that had embraced him as one of their own.
  • Pau Gasol (27 points, 13-16 FG, nine rebounds) was just outrageously effective from the perimeter. We’ve seen Gasol as a dominant interior force, as a brilliant facilitator of the offense, and as a fluid component of the high pick and roll. But this may have been the most dominant perimeter performance of his career — a damn-near-flawless demonstration of the seven-footer as a standstill shooter:


  • The Mavs’ offense was entirely too iso-heavy, a fact for which the Lakers deserve plenty of credit. Dallas’ offense wouldn’t have been stymied without their own submission, but L.A. did them no favors in clogging passing lanes, chasing shooters, and sticking with the Mavs in all of their favorite spots.
  • It still strikes me as strange that Bynum received so many catches in the high post when Mahinmi and Wright served as his primary on-ball competition. Los Angeles deserves the benefit of the doubt and then some based on their highly productive result, but how such a simple option was sidestepped almost entirely is beyond me.
  • Dallas committed its fifth foul of the third quarter with 4:30 remaining in the frame, and a Laker march to the free throw line ensued. L.A. wasn’t able to really build on its lead as a result of those freebies, but the Mavs’ fouls — whether as the product of correct calls or less correct ones — kept the Laker offense afloat at possibly its roughest stretch of the game. The Mavericks didn’t have all that many notable runs, and rather than make some significant headway in the third and position themselves for a competitive fourth quarter, Dallas ended up fouling their way out of a valuable possibility.
  • Brandan Wright actually executed a post-up possession! Against Sessions on a transition-induced switch, mind you, but it still counts, as far as I’m concerned. Wright has been a valuable offensive player in many regards this season, but the very idea of playing with his back to the basket has seemed to escape him.
  • Shawn Marion being Shawn Marion:


  • Question: Why did Brian Cardinal play five and a half minutes despite the fact that he has relatively little to offer the Mavs at this point? Answer(s): Garbage time, Marion’s injury, West’s injury, Carter’s minutes, Kidd’s fatigue, Rodrigue Beaubois’ offensive struggles, and Odom. This team could use a hand, and though I wish Cardinal could provide it, he just hasn’t been all that useful this season.

  • Sam

    To go along with the Cardinal point, what's happened to Yi? Did he do something to get into Cardinal's doghouse or something? Seemed like not too long ago he was getting solid minutes, albeit it was while Odom was on his leave of absence (or whatever you want to call it) but he seemed to be the next option at 4 over Cardinal. As little as Yi might bring, I think he brings more than Cardinal, considering the one thing Cardinal is supposed to be effective at on offense, shooting the three, he's been miserable at this season.

    • Kirk Henderson

      Can't play him at small forward, unfortunately. Cardinal at least fouls with enthusiasm and attempts to move along the parameter with urgency. But your point is well taken.

  • Kirk Henderson

    This game felt like a loss before it even started. With 3 of our top 8 rotation players out, I knew it would've taken a masterful performance to win.  That said, I disagree with you regarding Terry.  His point totals worked, but, like Kobe, he also made a fair number of bad shots. Terry seems to end up taking a long shot in transition far too often.  I did love the bejesus out of his Manu-step layup though.

    Odom… well, I'm more or less done with him.  I wish I could say I won't rage about him on twitter anymore, but I can't make that promise.  Kobe said that we have no idea how to use him.  I dont think that could be less true. He's not bought in to anything the team has done. He continues to miss left handed layups at a ridiculous rate for a left handed player. His rotations are slow. Heck, he even FLOPPED lazy yesterday. He's earned the scorn he's going to get moving forward. And I think the Mavs should part ways with him when the season is over. 

    • Mavs Fan

      I  wonder if the Mavs don't drop him if they're able to get someone like Kaman via buyout. The franchise – players, coaches, Cuban, etc. – has been more than accommodating, and although there has been an insistence on their part to see this thing through, at some point you have to give up when he's hurting the team (and a better option is available).

      • Kirk Henderson

        Let's just assume we are all being horrible and Lamar is having some actual mental issues surrounding some of the things that have transpired in the last year for him.  IF that is the case, why isn't he seeking some sort of help? Contrasting his story with that of Delonte West is just horrid for Odom. West needs help and is getting it, the team WANTS him to be better. The team obviously wants Odom to work through his struggles, but the feeling I get is that he doesnt want to come out of his wallowing. 

        • Mavs Fan

           To address your previous comment Kirk – the unknown is what makes it so confounding and frustrating both as a fan and a fellow human being. I wish Odom the best regardless.

      • Dirty Filthy Nasty

        Doesn't sound like Kaman is going to get bought out cause the money doesn't line up for NO and he's been their best player of late.

        Yeah, not sure what more Cuban and Carlisle can do for Odom.  It really seems like they've been as supportive and patient as possible with little or no positive indications from Odom on the court or off.

        It's pretty clear that he's not thrilled about playing in Dallas but come on man – the Mavs are a good team, championship last year with at least a chance to compete for one this year (much better than playing in NO for instance); Cuban is one of the best owners in sports so you're going to get all the perks; you have the chance to stick it to the Lakers multiple times this season and possibly in the playoffs; and lastly if all of the rest of that means absolutely nothing, it is a contract year for you (since you know there's a really good chance your non-guaranteed year gets bought out next year) so this year should be really important to a 32 year-old since your next contract will probably be the last decent sized one you sign.

  • tribbled

    i wholeheartedly disagree with your assessment of Kidd's defensive effort.  he's frequently late on rotations, rarely closes out on shooters when late, gives up on many plays and just moves to the post to help rebound on the eventual shot, etc.  i can't emphasize enough how many times i yell at his image on the tv because a laker got a WIDE OPEN shot while kidd just gazed at him from 10 ft away while trying to figure out if it's worth his effort to make up for the blown assignment.  it seems like a combination of age, lingering injury, and laziness.  the only good defense i saw on kobe was the occasional strip after kobe turned the corner and went up for a shot near the rim.  an appropriate nickname is terrence newman, because he'll come up big once in awhile, but for the most part he looks lost on defense.

  • the_dude_abides

    As someone here in LA who's very familiar with Lamar Odom and all of the tragedies he's both suffered and witnessed over the years, I'm wondering if he needs to be treated for PTSD. I've noticed psychiatrists and/or psychology students commenting about this on other blogs. It's possible that the fatal accident he witnessed while he was in New York for his murdered cousin's funeral finally pushed him over the edge. I really think this possibility needs to be explored further.

    • Mavs Fan

       It can be very hard for someone with a mental illness to get treatment even when resources (professional help, strong emotional support from friends/family, etc.) are readily available. If Odom's problem is this serious, then I hope he has someone that can literally drag him into treatment.

      Hopefully, and this may sound a bit odd, Odom's problem is one of apathy. I wouldn't wish PTSD, depression, or anything else like that on another person.

      • the_dude_abides

        For Lamar's sake and for the Mavs, I really hope he's able to break out of his funk. It would be nice to have the two most recent champs play each other in the WCF.

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