You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- Never has Elton Brand’s (4-9 FG, 11 points, 10 rebounds) importance been more clear than as he denied James Harden (5-23 FG, 20 points, eight rebounds, seven assists) on two consecutive attempts in the closing moments of the fourth quarter. Brand carefully blocked Harden during the most important possession of a close game, as Harden soared into the air with the game tied and momentum on the Rockets’ side. But Brand waited and precisely leaped, and the resulting Mavericks’ fast break points (from O.J. Mayo free throws) were enough to seal a Mavericks’ victory.
- Dirk Nowitzki (7-14 FG, 19 points, eight rebounds) led the Mavericks in scoring, as he has so many times in the past. The most encouraging aspect of Dirk’s performance was its overcoming nature: Dirk began the game slowly (1-6 FG), but made six of his last eight shots and steadied the Mavericks’ offense throughout a turbulent fourth quarter.
- O.J. Mayo (3-14 FG, 12-13 FT, 18 points, eight assists, six rebounds) really struggled to find his jumper but did find a nice replacement vein of scoring: free throws, and many of them. It was nice to see Mayo find a way to help the Mavericks in a significant way on a night when he couldn’t simply pull up from beyond the arc. Instead, Mayo passed, rebounded, and free-throw(ed) his way towards a solid contribution.
- And again, Mayo only had two turnovers in a Mavericks’ win. It’s fair to call this a trend.
- Tonight’s game serves as a keen example of winning on a night defined by adversity. Despite struggling mightily from the field, the Mavericks drew fouls (43 free throws), passed well (22 assists, 10 turnovers), and played strong closing defense on the way to a hard-fought, four-game winning streak-continuing victory (that’s a lot of adjectives).