Team Pace Off. Eff. eFG% FTR ORR TOR
Dallas 92.0 92.6 45.1 21.0 8.7 11.7
San Antonio 110.6 54.0 12.5 28.6 13.8
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.