The Rundown, Volume V

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on November 19, 2012 under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

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The Rundown is back. Every Monday, The Rundown will chronicle the week that was for the Mavericks, as well as let you know what is coming up for the boys in blue, with a unique spin. Simply put, it is your Monday catch-up on all things with the Dallas Mavericks.

After a frustrating loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, causing a three-game losing streak, the Mavericks made some changes. Some perplexing negative trends popped up and a special person chimed in to say hello and give an update. Let’s take a look at the week for that was for Dallas.

Did THAT Really Happen?

- Dirk Nowitzki blessed the microphone as he participated in commentary during the broadcast of the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. While there were no catchphrases such as “Take Dat Wit Chu” or “Shut it Down. Let’s Go Home,” there were interesting comments from the Tall Baller From the G. He talked about the frustrations of having to actually take time and rehab with a knee injury. Over the years, Dirk has been used to bouncing back quickly after ankle injuries, but the situation is different with his first time having knee surgery. He also admitted that he’s had some “down days” and he’s been working to stay in an upbeat mood around the guys in the locker to help the rest of the team out. It’s been a challenge for Dirk in this process. As progress keeps coming, hopefully Dirk will be back sooner rather than later.

- The starting lineup and rotation saw some changes leading up to the game against the Washington Wizards. The Mavericks saw into the window of someone’s mind and xeroxed the concepts that were discovered. It remains to bee seen how the rotation will balance out once Dirk returns to the team. It appears the spots for players like Elton Brand, Dahntay Jones, Jae Crowder, Troy Murphy, Brandan Wright and Bernard James will remain fluid until things shake out in terms of consistency and cohesion.

- In the game against the Wizards, the Mavericks opened up a 22-point advantage (67-45) in the third quarter and led by 18 (85-67) after three. But the Wizards began the fourth quarter on an 18-3 run and cut the deficit to three (88-85) with seven minutes to go in the game. Cartier Martin (the ultimate source of unexpected scoring in the fourth quarter) had seven points all season lived up to his newly formed nickname that I created as he went wild on Dallas as he scored 14 points in the fourth quarter. Dallas’ lead never dipped below three points in the second half however, and the Mavericks hung on for a 107-101 win. Dallas has to learn how to win games in crunch situations, but they also need to learn to keep an opponent down and out when they put them in that position.

- The newly established law firm of Jones and Jones seems to be taking off for the Mavericks. Dominique Jones (DOJO) tallied a season-high 10 points to go along with five assists, a season-high four rebounds and two steals in 18 minutes at Cleveland (11/17). It was the first time in his career that he recorded at least 10 points and five assists in the same game. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle seems to be going back and forth between Jones and Roddy Beaubois in regards to who fills the backup point guard position. To his credit, Jones played well after sitting out the previous three games. Dahntay Jones (DAJO) only played 14 minutes and scored three points against Cleveland, but he was instrumental in the team’s victory. He took on the challenge of defending Kyrie Irving. The point guard was still able to score, but he had to earn it against Jones. Shawn Marion needs help in another weapon who can help defend players on the perimeter. Dahntay Jones could be that player who fills that void.

Box Score Revelations

- Dallas went off in the second quarter against the Washington Wizards. They scored 40 points on 15-of-22 shooting from the field. Chris Kaman led with 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting from the floor. Forty points in the second quarter marks a season-high for any quarter by Dallas this season (previous high, 37 in the second quarter of their game at Utah on 10/31). Dallas did not have a 40-point quarter last season (high mark was 39 in the fourth quarter against Houston on 4/18/12). You have to go back to 3/10/11 to find a 40-point quarter for Dallas. They scored 41 in the second quarter against New York. They seem to like going off on scoring outbursts in the second quarter.

- The third quarter seems to be providing some bad juju to the Mavericks. Over last 2+ seasons, the third quarter has easily been the worst for Dallas. During the championship run in 2010-11, they scored 24.0 third quarter points, their lowest of all quarters. During the lockout shortened season of 2011-12, they scored 22.9 third quarter points, the second lowest of all quarters. To date, they have scored 22.2 quarter points, their lowest of all quarters. The third quarter against Cleveland was a promising sign. They just need to come out with an aggressive disposition when they come out of the locker room at halftime.

- Dallas’ bench came alive against the Cavaliers. The second unit for Dallas produced 45 points, 17 rebounds, 10 assists and six blocks in the win over Cleveland. The Cavaliers’ bench managed only 24 points, eight rebounds and one block. As the bench appears to be getting in a grove, Troy Murphy appears to be finding one of his own. Earlier in the week, he posted a season-high 10 points o go along with two assists and two steals in 18 minutes vs. Washington (11/14). He had nine points (all 3s) at Cleveland, marking the third time he scored eight-plus points in his last four games (8 at Charlotte 11/10). Each 3 Murphy hit against Cleveland gave Dallas a lead (72-71, 78-76 and 81-80). The Mavericks have outscored their opponent’s bench in nine of their first 11 games and are averaging 40.0 bench-points per game this season (ranks 4th in the NBA). Dallas averaged 41.0 bench-points per game in 2011-12, which was the third-highest average in the league last season.

- The Matrix has reloaded. Shawn Marion returned Friday night against the Indiana Pacers after missing the previous five games due to a sprained MCL in his left knee. In the not a surprise department, he looked a little sluggish in his first game back. He responded the very next night against the Cavaliers. Marion registered his first double-double of the season (405th career) with 10 points, a team-high 10 rebounds and a season-high-tying four assists in 33 minutes at Cleveland (11/17). Marion has grabbed at least seven rebounds in all six of his games this season. Rick Carlisle basically apologized to Marion after the Cleveland game for the 33 minutes. That’s not the best recipe for a guy who is playing on the second night of a back-to-back after missing time due to a knee injury. The Mavericks need his defense, simple scoring and his rebounding. It’s good to have Marion back.

Check Your Calendar

- The holiday week provides a lighter slate for the Mavericks. Dallas will have a three-game homestand during the week. It starts on Monday night as the Mavericks host Team Hand Down, Man Down (the Golden State Warriors). If things hold up, this will likely be one of the rare times Dallas have faced Golden State when their team is still fully intact (minus Brandon Rush). With players consistently hurt such as Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry, it’s usually expected that one or both of them are hurt. The game will mark the second night of a back-to-back for the Warriors. Golden State will roll into town after a tough matchup in Oklahoma City against the Thunder.

- The Mavericks will host the New York Knicks on Wednesday night. The game marks the only regular season appearance of former Mavericks Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler (don’t forget Steve Novak). The Knicks are currently 7-1. They have impressive wins over the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks. Their lone loss is to Memphis, who has lost only once this year (opening night to the Clippers). Despite not having Dirk or Marion in the game, the Mavericks were able to hang tough with the Knicks in New York on 11/9. While there are no such things as loss-wins, that doesn’t seem like a terrible loss when you look at the losses this season. Now that Charlotte loss…

The game will be the second night of a back-to-back for the Knicks. New York will be in New Orleans on Tuesday night to take on an upstart New Orleans squad.

- The Mavericks will look to become the first team to win two games against the Los Angeles Lakers as they square off on Saturday night. Dallas will look to take advantage of a grueling schedule for the Lakers. The game against the Mavericks will be the fifth game in seven days for the Lakers. It will be the second night of a back-to-back for Los Angeles. They will be in Memphis to take on the Grizzlies on Friday night in what is sure to be a very physical game. This week marks the first full week for Mike D’Antoni to coach the Lakers. He’s promised to bring an aggressive tempo to their offense and that they will be a “bear” on defense. It’s always electric in the American Airlines Center when the Lakers are in town. Saturday night won’t be any different.

The common trend in each of the three games is that the opponents are coming in on the second night of a back-to-back. With days off and the holiday, the Mavericks really need to capitalize on the schedule that has been given to them.

BG’s Baller of the Week

Baller status has been granted to Bernard James. Sarge has been a wonderful surprise over the last week. If you’ve kept track of my comments on James, he’s steadily improved as the preseason came to a close and moved into the regular season. He’s impressed his coach and believes he can be a different player. It now appears that James has solidified himself as the backup center. As a side note, that means the Mavericks have had both of their second round draft picks contribute within the rotation early in the regular season. That is due to injuries and lack of cohesion, but the rookies are showing they have the potential to be nice pieces for years to come. Back to the main point, Sarge is reporting for duty. He’s got a great knack for timing on defense and on the glass. James is consistently bringing energy when he’s on the floor. It’s entirely possible that he might find himself as a key piece to the rotation from here on out.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.

  • Matt Hulme

    Great read, Bryan. I’m unable to catch every game, so this is a great recap for me to get caught up on the Mavs. Keep it up!

    With each passing game, the days between now and the return of the Big German shorten both in length and number, and it still isn’t quick enough.

    Seriously, this squad got my hopes a little too high early on, thinking they might be capable of hanging in the 4-5 range in the standings until Dirk’s return, but now, as they’ve skyrocketed so averagely down to Earth, I can only hope they continue to tread water (though it feels more like ice, ready to break at any moment).

    The Mavs can’t and don’t rebound, and as a consequence allow far too many second, third, and fourth chances to opposing offenses, and if ever the perimeter shooting falters, so goes the competitive game plan.

    Worst of all, -and this was my biggest fear going into this season minus Nowitzki- they look totally and completely lost out there in the closing minutes of a close game. In clutch situations, there’s an utter offensive break down.

    I assume Mayo or Kaman will be taking the shots, but Mayo is forcing up bad ideas, Kaman is too quick to pass back out, and our point guards are driving desperately into the lane, throwing up wild and unnecessary shots vaguely at the basket. It’s ugly.

    It’s crazy, but I actually feel safer when Carter has the ball in those situations. Maybe with Marion’s return we can get back to some semblance of a working fourth quarter game, but I fear the worst until Dirk’s return.

    On that note, I’d love to read some deeper analysis on those anti-clutch situations, if there’s one to be had, seeing as though we’re tending to fall out of games sooner, the Wizards’ game being the recent exception.

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