The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 78, Chicago Bulls 101

Posted by Kirk Henderson on November 29, 2012 under Recaps | 3 Comments to Read

Storm Clouds

Box Score — Play-by-Play — Shot Chart — Game Flow

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

  • Having lost seven of their last 10 games, including their last two, Dallas entered this game needing to show some sort of fire. An injury to starting point guard Darren Collison meant Dallas faced an uphill battle against an up and down Bulls team. The Mavericks did not show up, and barely put up a fight when things got ugly in the second quarter. It’s hard to know where to begin.
  • Similar to the Laker game over the weekend, it would be easy to look at the box score, see the field goal percentage (a hair under 35%) and attribute the loss to the poor shooting. If it were only that easy; the poor shooting is a start in terms of explaining their atrocious play on both ends of the floor.
  • There has to be a change in defensive philosophy regarding the pick and roll. Against the Lakers and the Knicks, getting punished made some sense; it’s a huge part of each team’s game plan. But against the Bulls? Who are playing an assortment of guards who are not in the upper echelon of NBA talent? It’s rather ridiculous. Dallas does not have the personnel to be defending the pick and roll in this fashion. At first it seemed an issue of timing and effort. Effort does play a part, but most of the big men on the roster cannot recover in time.
  • Early in the second quarter, Chris Kaman (10 points, four rebounds) “showed” high on a Joakim Noah screen and lazily waved his arms. Noah (13 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) slipped the screen quickly and Nate Robinson (14 points, six assists) fed Noah for an easy layup. Noah repeated this course of events again in the third.
  • Dallas also needs to spend a great deal of practice time in getting through screens while playing defense. It’s too much to see every guard on the Dallas roster get hung up on a screen from nearly every opposing big man.
  • Roddy Beaubois (six points, three assists) was particularly horrible on defense. He lost his man in half court sets repeatedly, forcing rotations and often fouls. Early in the second quarter, he got hung up on a screen and while trying to recover, bit on a terrible Nate Robinson pump fake, then decided to try to block his shot from behind and picked up an obvious foul as Robinson sank the shot. Nate Robinson, he of the cheer leading and dunk contests from a few years ago, looked like a legit back up point guard due to Roddy’s defensive effort.
  • Remember when Roddy was labeled as untouchable? I’ve stepped away from the ledge and finally agree with Connor Huchton that he can be serviceable, but he’s been terrible this season, shooting just under 32% on the year. He’s working the offense fine, but with the few occasions where he strips his man and scores on a fast break attempt, we’ve seen almost none of the dazzling speed and athleticism that made him so intriguing. He still makes the same baffling bad decisions he did as a rookie. It’s really disappointing.
  • Of course, Roddy was not alone in his lack of defensive awareness. In the second quarter, O.J. Mayo lost the ball while rising to shoot a 17 footer. On the ensuing fast break possession for Chicago, Mayo lost Marco Belinelli (11 points) who hit a wide open three. Later in the third, Mayo let Rip Hamilton (four points, four assists) get wide open on a flare off a screen. These sorts of plays are bound to happen, that’s the point of an offense. But Dallas seems completely incapable of doing anything to limit an offense when it involves heavy screening.
  • While we’re on the topic of awareness, is Rick Carlisle aware of just how terrible Troy Murphy (seven points, two rebounds) is playing? By my count, Taj Gibson (eight points, eight rebounds) took three rebounds away from Murphy. Murphy played 18 minutes, yet was bullied all over the floor. He was often simply taking up space while doing nothing productive. It’s time for Troy to see his minutes reduced severely.
  • Did I mention Troy Murphy got beat to the basket by Vladimir Radmanovic? Or that he let Luol Deng take two rhythm dribbles towards the elbow to shoot a jumper? Both those things happened, and more!
  • One play in the third quarter defined the entire game. Down 16 with a little under two minutes left, Taj Gibson rebounded his own shot while surrounded by four Mavericks: Mayo, Murphy, Roddy, and Brand, who actually fought for the board with Gibson. The struggle for the board saw Brand hit the deck. The other three Mavericks simply watched from the paint as Gibson fed a wide open Luol Deng for a three pointer. Brand was the only Maverick who made any attempt to challenge the shot, and he had been on the floor.
  • The rebounding issue has become almost comical. There are so many instances of Mavericks simply watching the ball and doing nothing to put a body on an opposing player. Murphy and Kaman are particularly guilty of this but the guards play a big role as well. With a little under eight minutes in the second quarter, Nazr Mohammed missed a layup that Gibson cleaned up with a put back. No effort was made from Dominique Jones or Mayo, who simply stood near the three point line.
  • To start the second half, there was no Dallas Maverick with more than two rebounds. The Bulls shot well (49%) from the floor, but not so well so that there weren’t rebounds to grab. No Maverick finished with more than six rebounds.
  • The NBA is one of the only professions that I can think of where one can get a label for something that one isn’t any good at. Troy Murphy is a “stretch four” who can’t actually stretch the defense out at because he can’t make open shots; he’s a shooter who can’t shoot. In a similar vein is Dominique Jones (1o points, five assists). He is a “finisher” who cannot finish. His layups are thrown up with a hope and a prayer. I appreciate his hard work and the minutes he’s giving a struggling team. But he’s not very good and the more he plays the more clear it becomes.
  • The engagement level of Chris Kaman is something that needs to be more heavily examined. He relishes taking on a weaker match up, as he took advantage in games against Toronto, Washington, Cleveland and Golden State. But against teams with strong post defenders, like New York, Los Angeles, and tonight with the Bulls, he seems to settle for lesser quality shots. Tonight he took seven shots outside the paint and only attempted two free throws.
  • Dallas needed a top flight scorer tonight and O.J. Mayo (four points, five rebounds) seemed inclined to take the night off. Marco Belinelli and Kirk Hinrich either played the defensive game of their lives on Mayo, or he simply did not assert himself much on offense. While it was nice he didn’t force his shot (2-for-9 from the floor), it’s rather confusing he didn’t do more while on offense. He played 35 minutes. Part of the can be attributed to a lack of Collison, but Mayo disappearing cannot happen.
  • There should be cause for concern with regard to Jae Crowder (two points, three rebounds). I’ve often considered his energy and effort to be similar to a rookie contract Josh Howard, who managed to contribute everywhere without needing the ball very often. Crowder played 26 ineffective minutes and took a number of long jump shots. Only one of them fell, as he was 1-for-7 from the field. Sounds a lot more like 2008 Josh Howard, unfortunately. Crowder needs to get back to what made him a summer league and pre-season favorite: hard nosed play, defense, rebounding.
  • It’s uncomfortable to question a coach as knowledgeable and accomplished as Carlisle. But right now his rotations are concerning. Brandan Wright saw no playing time. Bernard James (one point, two rebounds) only saw action in the fourth. Why? The Mavs as an organization have a healthy respect for data and numbers and Dallas is in no way, shape or form, better with Murphy on the floor over either of these two. If Dallas is going to lose, at least do so while letting the players who have a future get some experience.
  • First round selection Jared Cunningham saw four minutes of action and managed to hoist up six shots. Impressive display of gunning, yet he failed to show any inkling of why Dallas selected him in the first round while there were other more accomplished players on the board.
  • The Dallas bench does it’s best work when the game is close or Dallas is ahead. Vince Carter (10 points on 10 shots) was asked to do too much, again. He’s 35 years old. He is battling hard, but asking him to be the savior when there are other more talented players at this point in their careers (hey, O.J. Mayo) on the roster is silly.
  • Elton Brand (four points, six rebounds, four assists) and Shawn Marion (18 points, 3 rebounds) were the only two Mavericks who played with any sense of urgency or pride. After a solid night against his former team, Brand again struggled with his shot. His post defense is still not very good, but its not for a lack of trying. Marion does so much while needing the ball so little. While he obviously could have contributed more on the defensive end, his positive offense effort was the only one worth mentioning for Dallas.
  • News broke after the game that Dallas signed Derek Fisher. It’s unclear why, as he brings next to nothing to the team other than another veteran presence. The point guard position is shaky to say the least, but he doesn’t help with that other than the fact that he can dribble it past half court without falling down (something Roddy nearly does once a game). Who gets cut (or sent to the D-league) is unclear. Options include Troy Murphy, Dominique Jones, and Roddy Beaubois.
  • Dallas gets two days of rest and possibly practice time with their new addition before they welcome Detroit Saturday night.

Kirk is a member of the Two Man Game family. Follow him on twitter @KirkSeriousFace 


  • FromWayDowntown

    Over the last days I rewatched the Finals against Miami. Obviously good times.

    Why did I feel the urge to rewatch them? Because I cannot be bothered to watch these Mavs right now. A team sporting Troy Murphy, serviceable but ultimately meh Elton Brand, time-off Kaman, Roddy who hasn’t developed a lick, Dahntay Jones’ corpse and Carters’ remains is absolutely boring and plays horribly. When Collison’s and Mayo’s game is the best thing about your team you know you that there are dark times ahead. This has to be the least watchable team in Dirk’s whole career in the US and I shudder at the thought that this is another wasted year for him and the whole organization.
    Anyone remember the numbers Dirk put up after the last All Star break? For naught. Anything he does this season? For naught. And in addition we have a Mavs team that is completely forgettable. Frustrating times.

  • FromWayDowntown

    And to not only talk about me: Good write-up. Thanks for the effort and sticking with the one bullet idea despite the game being what it was.

    • Kirk Henderson

      I did some math, when I write these, the average margin (victory of defeat) is 15.6 bullet points.