Team Pace Off. Eff. eFG% FTR ORR TOR
Dallas 95.0 113.7 53.4 17.0 14.0 6.0
Los Angeles 117.9 48.9 29.0 29.4 6.3
You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- This was a game that deserved to go into overtime, and unlike far too many extra-period affairs of the post-lockout season, actually behooved its audience to. Dallas may have bogged itself down into isolating Dirk Nowitzki (24 points, 9-28 FG, 3-8 3FG, 14 rebounds) at times in an effort to get him going, but for the most part the Mavericks’ ball movement was quite good; Jason Terry (21 points, 8-15 FG, 5-6 3FG, four assists) and Delonte West (20 points, 9-15 FG) both did wonderful work as shot creators, and the entire offense was built on and benefited from the virtues of the extra pass. Sadly, execution doesn’t always lead to elite efficiency; try as the Mavs might to work the ball around and make the right plays, Nowitzki’s shooting struggles and the Lakers’ ability to apply defensive pressure in all the right places kept this a wide-open game. Meanwhile, the Lakers sans Kobe were in a position to exploit the necessity of the Mavs’ over-helping; only Brendan Haywood had the hope of checking Andrew Bynum without a double team, a fact which essentially required that each of Ian Mahinmi and Brandan Wright’s minutes be plagued with openings on the weak side. It wasn’t the fault of Jason Kidd (who was often caught cheating off of his man to help on Bynum), or even Wright. It’s merely the reality of this rotation, and if these two teams meet in a potential first-round series, it’s a reality the Mavericks will have to confront on more specific terms. (One related thought: A potential factor that could oddly make the Lakers’ swing passing more manageable from a Maverick perspective? Kobe Bryant. Players so brilliant rarely make decisions as oddly short-sighted as those Bryant makes with regularity. He may think three moves ahead of his defender in the post, but basketball chess games last a bit longer than three moves.)
- There’s no use in demanding perfection of any team at this stage in the season, particularly one that has seen as much in-season variance as these Mavericks. That said, is it enough to be pleased with strong effort and decent execution against an opponent missing a star? I was going to say that this game sums up Dallas’ season nicely, but perhaps that response does so even more aptly.
- Haywood hurt the Mavs offensively with his mere presence on the floor down the stretch, but he was absolutely essential in holding Bynum to reasonable marks. Despite having the potential to be an every-game Maverick killer, Bynum finished with 23 points on 24 shots — decent numbers made completely manageable by their contextual inefficiency. Defending low-post players with an insufficient rotation of bigs requires smoke, mirrors, and roving help, but thanks to Haywood’s initial front (which is almost completely predicated on walking the fine line between what is legal and illegal as a post defender), the Mavs stood a fighting chance. They had golden opportunities to win this game and perhaps should have, but only because Haywood’s defense had earned Dallas enough ground to stand on.
- Nowitzki shot incredibly poorly from the field (a tip of the cap to Pau Gasol, who again played Dirk about as well as he possibly could), and Shawn Marion didn’t contribute as much in the scoring column as he should or could have. That said, both were tremendous rebounders in a game where Dallas needed as much rebounding help as possible. For Marion, that’s merely an extension of the recent status quo; Marion has now grabbed double-digit boards in each of the last five games, and his work on the defensive glass in this one gave the Mavericks a chance to preserve their in-game lives. Nowitzki’s 14 boards — many of which were heavily contested — provided a welcome departure from what had been a string of underwhelming rebounding performances of late, epitomized by his recent one-board outing against the Golden State Warriors. If either Wright or Mahinmi are to be any considerable part of the Mavs’ playoff plans (hint: they are), consistent rebounding from Nowitzki and Marion will be absolutely essential. Mahinmi can run a pick and roll effectively and Wright has been a wonderful boost off the bench, but neither player is much of a rebounder in terms of technique or performance. Marion has done a great job of picking up some of the slack, but now it’s time that Nowitzki join the party — lest Dallas walk into every game with a bit of a rebounding disadvantage.