You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- Shawn Marion (10 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists) proved his worth repeatedly against the Cavs tonight. His little contributions here and there, from passing out of double teams, rebounding in traffic, or making the right pass on a fast break, don’t seem huge, yet one looks at the box score and his finger prints are all over the game. Without Shawn Marion, Dallas loses this game.
- Chris Kaman (15 points, 8 rebounds, 6 blocks) was huge tonight. He still forces his offense a bit too frequently (he had five shots in the first quarter, then 7 shots the remainder of the game), but when he either makes a decisive post move or catches the ball off a pick and pop, its highly enjoyable to watch. Six blocks is worth applauding; often this season Kaman has been slow to react and its apparently taken him some time to round into shape. Tonight he looked great and Dallas needed his defensive presence.
- Unlike the last few games, Dallas’ shots were finally falling as the team shot 52% from the floor to Cleveland’s 37.5%. The Cavs managed to stay in the game due to 20 turnovers from the Mavs, many of them unforced. Turnovers are one area Dallas had improved upon as of late, so hopefully this is simply a one game blip.
- The efficient play of O.J. Mayo (19 points on 9 shots) was entertaining to watch. He got to the free throw line 6 times and unlike last night, virtually all of his shots came within the flow of the offense and looked good upon release. Mayo still makes a number of puzzling passing decisions (4 turnovers) from time to time, but he’s also capable of really dazzling passes out of the pick and roll.
- Dominique Jones (10 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists) had perhaps his best game as a professional basketball player. Though Darren Collison (14 points, 8 assists) finished the game well, he struggled in the first half so Carlisle turned to Jones over the struggling Roddy Beaubois. Jones responded by getting to the rim repeatedly and making the correct pass in the flow of the offense. He could have finished with 16 or more had a few shots at the rim taken a more friendly bounce.
- The Mavs managed to win this game despite getting four rebounds in the second quarter. Four. That they actually won the rebounding battle is impressive, but that should also be attributed to Cleveland missing a lot of shots.
- Bernard James (4 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks) had his second straight solid game. It’s unclear if he’ll ever be called on for more than 10-15 minutes a game, but he does what he’s asked and plays incredibly hard. Many of the Dallas big men lean more towards the finesse stereotype, so its refreshing to see James willing to mix it up with the likes of Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson.
- It was good to see Vince Carter (14 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks) resume his role of spark plug in limited minutes. He only played 21 minutes tonight and was not asked to repeatedly bail out the Mavericks offense, which clearly wears on him in games when Dallas is struggling.
Kirk is a member of the Two Man Game family. Follow him on twitter @KirkSeriousFace