The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 97, Portland Trail Blazers 94

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 14, 2012 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

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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 Mavericks, in spectacular fashion, very nearly blew what should have been a walk-off win. The entire game had been a rather simple affair; a Blazer team without LaMarcus Aldridge isn’t really a Blazer team at all, and in their limited state Dallas was able to create great shots through easy offense (and consistent offensive rebounds), defend effectively without doing anything flashy, and gradually build up a 24-point lead by the tail end of the third quarter. Dallas had let off the gas just enough throughout the fourth to give Portland the slightest possibility for a comeback, but only with a three-minute stretch of lazy, fatigued, and ineffective play did the Blazers nearly capture some magic. During that stretch, the Mavs went 0-for-4 with five turnovers, as Dirk Nowitzki, Delonte West, Shawn Marion, and Brandan Wright each took turns committing blunders. Those miscues fueled the Blazers beyond token effort; most teams will run the court and put up points to close the gap as much as possible in the waning minutes of a double-digit victory, but that horrible, horrible stretch of Maverick basketball gave validation to the notion of a sincere comeback. So naturally, such a comeback came, and the Mavs ended up with a blowout win that wasn’t a blowout at all. In Jason Kidd’s absence, West (21 points, 10-17 FG, seven assists, six rebounds, three steals, six turnovers) logged over 44 minutes. Nowitzki (24 points, 8-14 FG, nine rebounds, five turnovers) and Marion (17 points, 8-10 FG, 14 rebounds, three assists, three turnovers) ran 37 minutes apiece, with Terry (10 points, 3-16 FG, three turnovers) not far behind at 34. Dallas dawdled when they should have separated and collapsed when they should have sustained, and a 24-point lead crumbled to three in a little more than a quarter. I think the appropriate response is likely still disappointment rather than disgust, but what Mavs fan could be blamed for feeling either?

  • At the end of the second quarter, Delonte West again strafed through the defense for a great look at the rim, again threw down a rallying dunk, and again came up holding his still-smarting hand. The idea that “a bucket is a bucket,” is silly; the dunk has many impacts that go beyond the scoring it provides — some helpful to a team and some less so — and West’s throwdowns are no exception. But even with those potential gains in view, West should probably cut this out, no? Should the Mavs finish out this stretch run well (is that anything resembling a given after Friday night’s implosion?) and secure a postseason berth, West will be sorely needed against any possible first-round opponent. He’d have to hang with Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, Kobe Bryant, or Chris Paul, while slashing and shooting and driving and making plays. He’s set to have a rough a gig as any Mav, and considering that each of his dunks over the last three games have ended with the same painful cringe, a slight step back may be worthwhile for the postseason’s sake.
  • Kelenna Azubuike was active on Friday night, but even as Rick Carlisle looks to take full stock of his team for the postseason, I wouldn’t suspect that he’ll receive any meaningful playing time, or perhaps any at all. It’s certainly possible that ‘Buike could get a garbage-time minute here or there (supposing Dallas could close out a game like this one more effectively next time around), but we should expect a delay of his on-court audition until the preseason, or perhaps even the Vegas Summer League.
  • Andrew

    Here's to playing West an appropriate amount of minutes.  He should be getting starters minutes all the time!  And the way it happens is easy: cut Carter out of the rotation almost entirely.