The Rundown, Volume IX

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on December 17, 2012 under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment

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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.

The roller coaster ride that is the 2012-13 season for the Mavericks continues. After a positive week last week, the tough road trip for the Mavericks found themselves in a rough hole. To say the least, the road hasn’t been kind to them. Television play-by-play voice of the Dallas Mavericks Mark Followill noted that since 12/4, the team has been on eight flights totaling 6,904 miles with seven games in seven different cities. With the week ahead, they now find themselves at a crossroads for their season. I’ll go into more detail about that later in the column, but let’s take a look at the week for that was for Dallas.

Did THAT Really Happen?

- DeMarcus Cousins’ groin-punch on O.J. Mayo. Late in the second quarter during the game against the Sacramento Kings, Mayo and Cousins were fighting for position on the low block. Cousins delivered a back-hand, closed-fist punch to Mayo’s groin. Both were seen arguing with each other and Cousins and Mayo were whistled for a double-technical foul. Later in the game during a timeout, Cousins was clapping towards Dallas’ bench. Rick Carlisle took offense to that and let Cousins known he wasn’t happy with him. There were very open and honest comments Mayo had after the game. The NBA issued a one-game suspension to Cousins for striking Mayo during the Kings’ 23-point loss to the Mavericks on 12/10.

- It was only a matter of time, but the Mavericks assigned Jared Cunningham to the Texas Legends of the NBA D-League on 12/11. Cunningham has averaged 2.3 points and 3.4 minutes in seven games with the Mavericks this season. Keep in mind that stats in the D-League tend to be inflated, but in his first game with the Legends on 12/15, Cunningham played just over 38 minutes and scored 26 points on 6-of-18 shooting. He followed that up with 15 points on 3-of-10 shooting in 37 minutes of action on 12/16. Remember, the Mavericks originally wanted to work him into more of a point guard coming into this season. He only had one assist in the game on 12/15 in Frisco. It appears Cunningham will get plenty of time in Frisco with the Legends, so he should be able to continue to develop his game.

- The Mavericks went with quite an epic small ball lineup versus Boston to finish the game. They really didn’t go without a center and played Shawn Marion against Kevin Garnett. They relied on players like Dahntay Jones and Derek Fisher to go up against Paul Pierce. To the team’s credit, the lineup did work on offense, when they weren’t turning the ball over, and they held their own on defense. Carlisle has been known to rely on a small ball lineup. With Chris Kaman still being a little gimpy and Elton Brand coming down from his strong week the previous week, the small ball group was a necessity.

- Derek Fisher was being tossed around like a rag doll in the second quarter in the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Greg Stiemsma was setting hard picks and Fisher took offense to them and felt like they were not clean plays. A few plays later, there was a flop-off between Fisher and former Maverick J.J. Barea. Clearly, fans of the Mavericks entered the bizarro section of the universe where a battle between Fisher and Barea had you confused on who you were backing in that situation.

Box Score Revelations

- The Kings lack a certain understanding of the game of basketball. Sacramento went 10:52 between field goals, missing 12 consecutive shots and committing nine turnovers in that time. The Mavericks were able to take advantage of the situation as they went off and scored 19 unanswered points during that stretch that spanned the first and second quarters. For those that don’t remember, the Mavericks have had their share of defensive success against the Kings. The Mavericks held the Kings to just 60 points on 22-of-86 (25.6 percent) shooting in the game at Dallas on 1/14/12 (defeated Sacramento 99-60), setting new franchise opponent lows for points (was 65 at Minnesota 2/27/07), field goals made (was 23 at Indiana, 23-67, 12/6/05) and field goal percentage (was 29.6 percent, 24-81, at Minnesota 2/27/07). The Mavericks held the Kings to just 23 points in the first half of the game on 1/14/12 (Dallas led 52-23 at the break), marking an all-time low for points in a half by a Dallas opponent. The previous franchise opponent low for points in a half was 24 by Vancouver (at Dallas 3/13/99, in the first half).

- The 27 turnovers against the Boston Celtics were absolutely brutal, especially in a game that went to double overtime. Boston scored an opponent-high 34 points off those 28 turnovers against Dallas. Instead of working through Dirk Nowitzki, who does a good job of protecting the ball, the Mavericks are having to rely more on guys like O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison with the ball in their hands. They’re getting more defensive attention put on them and it’s leading to turnovers. In addition, the spacing on the floor just hasn’t been good. The coaching staff is going to need to make adjustments in order for this issue to start being corrected. The onus is also on the players to protect the ball.

- The Mavericks suffered an embarrassing 94-74 loss to Toronto on 12/14. The loss also came at a price. Dallas failed to make a 3-pointer. They had made a 3-pointer in 1,108 consecutive games. The streak began on 2/27/99. The last time they went without a 3-point basket in a game was in a loss at Utah on 2/26/99 (finished 0-of-8 from deep). Dallas thought that streak was extended when Derek Fisher nailed a triple early in the fourth quarter. But the referees reviewed the shot during a timeout and deemed Fisher’s foot to have been on the line. The Mavericks finished 0-for-13 from beyond the arc.

- Without Kevin Love in the lineup, Minnesota scored 50 points in the paint against Dallas in their overtime victory on 12/15. Fifty points in the paint was the most Dallas had allowed since they gave up 62 to the Los Angeles Clippers on 12/5. The game also saw a 28-point swing as the Mavericks had a 13-point lead in the first quarter, but the Wolves were able to build a 15-point lead in the third quarter.

Check Your Calendar

- With a record of 11-13, the Mavericks are now at the fork in the road in this second chunk of the regular season. After the first home game of the week, the opponents get very difficult to finish 2012. Dallas will host Philadelphia on Tuesday. It will be the first night of a back-to-back for the Sixers as they will head down to face the Rockets on Wednesday evening. The game against Philadelphia on 11/27 saw breakout performances for Shawn Marion and Elton Brand. It appears Marion is back on track, but Brand might need to see his former team again to get back into form.

- The Mavericks will have Wednesday night off before their nationally televised game against the Miami Heat, the defending champions, on Thursday. The Heat have been up and down this season, mainly due to the health of Dwyane Wade and their disposition on defense. With their Big 3 healthy for this game, they’ll see the banner up in the American Airlines Center rafters from 2010-11 and probably be fueled up for the game. This one could get ugly, but that’s why they play the games on the court and not on paper.

- It doesn’t get any easier for the Mavericks as they fly right out to Memphis after the game against the Heat to take on the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. This will be the first time that O.J. Mayo gets to see his former team. It will be interesting to see the kind of reaction he gets from the fans in Memphis. As we saw in the game against Toronto, fans can be rather cruel as Vince Carter got a heavy dose of booing every time he touched the ball. This will be a very physical game with the big men Memphis has on their roster. If the Mavericks are taken to task on Thursday against the Heat, the Grizzlies might take whatever scraps are left. Again, this is a critical time for the Mavericks.

- The Mavericks run through the gauntlet ends on Sunday as they head down to San Antonio to take on their old rivals, the Spurs. The Spurs are still the old team that we know, but they have been dealing with some injuries. Kawhi Leonard has been going through some right knee tendinitis since mid-November, but there is a possibility he could be available for the game against the Mavericks. Stephen Jackson suffered a non-displaced fracture of his right pinkie finger in mid-November and was expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks due to the injury There is a chance he could return to practice this coming week and be available for the game. Manu Ginobili left Saturday’s game against Boston with a quadriceps injury after running into an opponent. The Spurs did not have an update on Ginobili’s injury after the game. With just under a week before the game against the Mavericks, it’s unknown if Ginobili will actually be available for this game.

BG’s Baller of the Week

Baller status has been granted to Shawn Marion. He was lined up to get the status last week, but he went down with a strained right groin. Marion was the lone, consistent bright spot for the Mavericks as he averaged 14.0 points, 11.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks during the team’s four games last week. He is such a valuable player to the roster. It can mainly go unnoticed to the casual fan, but Marion can easily be a valuable member to the team in terms of production on offense, even without running a single play for him. Marion has a great knack for reading how the ball will come off the backboard or rim and that allows him to be such a threat as a rebounder. That knack allows him to get the proper position and his jumping ability allows him to grab the offensive rebounds and get easy put-back buckets. He averaged 3.3 offensive rebounds last week. The next closest Maverick was Elton Brand and 1.3.

Marion has played in 979 regular-season games and needs 21 for 1,000 in his career. He currently has 15,983 points and needs 17 for 16,000 in his career. He would become the 95th player in NBA history with at least 16,000 points. He also has 1,580 steals and needs 20 for 1,600 in his career. Marion has also achieved multiple milestones this year. He made his 700th career 3-pointer at the 8:23 mark of the fourth quarter vs. Golden State (11/19/12). He recorded his 6,500th career made field goal with a runner at the 8:23 mark of the second quarter vs. the L.A. Lakers on 11/24. He also grabbed his 9,000th career rebound at the 7-minute mark of the fourth quarter at Toronto on 12/14/12, becoming the 45th player in NBA history with at least 9,000 boards. Marion ranks fourth among active players in rebounds (behind Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Marcus Camby). It’s been a great and historic week for the versatile forward. As long as Shawn Marion remains healthy, it appears the Mavericks will be able to depend on the Matrix.

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.