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 this being the second overtime loss in three games for Dallas, we can again look to small lapses in judgement which made a big difference in the final margin; two in particular jump out. First, Darren Collison got beat on a backdoor cut by J.J. Barea late in the first quarter. For some reason Collison tried to anticipate Ricky Rubio throwing a pass to a not-yet-rolling Greg Steimsma. Rubio read that move a mile away and instead fed the cutting Barea for a layup, which Brandan Wright goaltended off the rim. Second, to start the third quarter, Alexey Shved stripped Chris Kaman from behind after leaving a cutting O.J. Mayo. Mayo said nothing to alert his teammate to the coming double team. The Timberwolves took the ball down and scored in transition.
- During the course of this three game losing streak, Dallas is averaging 21 turnovers per game. Tonight, the bulk of the Dallas turnovers game in the second quarter, when they had nine, as the Wolves outscored the Mavs 32 to 13.
- The Mavs made a fast and furious attempt at a comeback in the fourth with a truly unorthodox lineup; at one point Dominique Jones, Derek Fisher, Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo, and Elton Brand were all on the floor together. Three point guards, a shooting guard, and a power forward. That Carlisle has to resort to these odd line ups for some sort of offensive effectiveness is frustrating, that they are working is fun.
- Vince Carter (nine points, four assists) and Derek Fisher (20 points, five turnovers) fouling out played into Carlisle’s decision to return to a traditional line up for the overtime. The small ball line up managed to keep the Wolves off of the offensive glass until the final thirty seconds of regulation when Minnesota had five chances to win the game but were not able to convert any. However, the traditional lineup was terrible offensively, as Dallas was only able to convert one shot in eight attempts in the overtime.
- Shawn Marion (14 points, 10 rebounds) is the glue that is holding this team together. Night in and out he manages to find ways to be effective. He scored in transition early, got second chances for the Mavs through offensive rebounds, and played very well in the pick and roll with O.J. Mayo (20 points, six assists). He’s often the center of fan trade proposals due to his contract, but his contribution level at this point is immeasurable.
- I’m with my colleagues that Brandan Wright needs to play more. But he is such a frustrating talent. In his past two outings he’s played 22 minutes and gathered one rebound. His mental lapses are mind boggling; in his eight minutes of action against the Wolves, Derrick Williams beat him on not one, but two back-door alley-oop cuts which, had he been able to convert the dunk attempts, would’ve been Sports Center highlights. It’s not enough that he is able to score in the offense. He has to contribute in other areas, and this season he’s had stretches where he just can’t seem to do anything to deserve more playing time.
- Seeing O.J. Mayo develop has been rewarding, even in games where he struggles with being the lead play maker. The next step in his game has to be getting to the free throw line more frequently. Prior to tonight’s game he averages just under four free throw attempts per game. As someone who is averaging 35 minutes a night and bears the role of primary scorer, getting to the line is something he has to do with more regularity. While he’s shooting at a blistering rate at the moment (48%), history tells us that’s bound to fall three to four percentage points as the year wears on. He’s been attacking the bucket more often these last dozen or so games, so hopefully his FTA’s will increase at some point.
- Dirk was seen working out and getting shots up prior to tonight’s game. I very much hope he isn’t rushing his recovery as he sees the team struggle these past few games. As Connor has pointed out repeatedly, the schedule gets much tougher to close out the year and it’s in the realm of possibility that Dallas will not able to get another win in 2012. The loss tonight puts Dallas at a 13.1% chance to make the playoffs and while I know these rankings do not factor in things like Dirk’s injury, seeing this Dallas squad make the playoffs, even with Dirk, is hard to imagine when one considers their problems.
Kirk is a member of the Two Man Game family. Follow him on twitter @KirkSeriousFace for ranting about Dallas basketball, TV, movies, video games, and his dog.