You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- With about three minutes left in the game, Dallas rediscovered that which had made them an offensive juggernaut the previous week: attacking the basket. Darren Collison (21 points, 11-12 FTs, 5 assists) is the engine behind the Dirkless offense and when he isn’t probing the lane and Dallas settles for long jumpers late in the shot clock, the offense is borderline unwatchable.
- Dallas started the game the same way they’ve finished the last two: giving up four offensive rebounds in the first 8 minutes of playing time. However, the next three plus quarters they only gave up three. Dallas is still -69 on the year in terms of rebounding margin, but tonight it was due to the poor shooting display (36.2%).
- A variety of Timberwolves played excellent. For the second straight game a point guard had a big game against Dallas; Luke Ridnour (15 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals) helped control the game for Minnesota. Andrei Kirilenko (16 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals) set the tone early and abused Jae Crowder. Nikola Pekovic (20 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists) is such a massive man and to be that skilled offensively is such a rare trait in today’s NBA. Rookie Alexey Shved (16 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks, 9-11 FTs) didn’t shoot the ball well, but as you can see by his stat line, he managed to affect the game in every other possible way. I recommend taking a look at A Wolf Among Wolves for their take on the game as well.
- Jae Crowder has had a rather rude introduction to NBA small forward position the last three games. He’s been tasked with sticking with Carmelo Anthony, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Kirilenko. Unfortunately, he’s had a rather rough go of it and he’s been losing minutes to Dahntay Jones. It’s a long season and I have plenty of faith Crowder will learn, adapt, and thrive.
- Dirk came on with the Mavs announcing crew during the second quarter and informed the world that he’s tired of rehab and that he really thought he’d be back to working out regularly within two weeks. He also told the world that marriage is awesome (it is, by the way, I recommend it!) and that he spends a lot of time in the kitchen. I was disappointed that the crew did not investigate this further. A cooking show with Dirk would be incredible.
- Despite missing all the shots, Dallas managed to get their turnover problem under control, handing the ball over 8 times tonight.
- Bernard James (6 points, 4 rebounds) is delightful. He sets really solid screens, has a nose for the ball, and plays bigger than he is. He’s likely to only get spot minutes this year, but those spots are incredibly entertaining.
- As a fan, I tend to overreact to, well, everything. Dallas is now 4-4 with a totally made over roster; only 2 guys from last years team played more than 10 minutes tonight. Out of a rotation that’s been going 11 deep, that’s incredible. There are issues to fix, rebounding in particular is really worrisome, but if the goal was to tread water and wait for Dirk and Shawn Marion to get healthy, then the Mavericks are right there. Up next are three very winnable games against teams dealing with major injury or talent related issues. Dallas can and should take advantage.