You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- Continuing a theme from the previous edition of The Difference, mental miscues made this game unnecessarily close. With just under three minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Mavericks leading 104 to 96, Vince Carter blocked Aaron Afflalo. The ensuing fast break possession saw O.J. Mayo try to force a pass to Elton Brand on the baseline which resulted in a turnover. During the ensuing TV timeout, Carlisle was… unhappy to say the least. Later, after Darren Collison’s back breaking corner three with 31 seconds left, the Magic drew up an in-bounds play for J.J. Redick. Miscommunication between Collison and Mayo resulted in Redick getting left wide open to drill the three which brought the Magic within two. These two mistakes didn’t cost Dallas the game, but they are the kind of mistakes a team cannot make if they hope to sneak into the playoffs.
- For the longest time, the Oklahoma City Thunder would start games with a post up of Kendrick Perkins, who was usually their last offensive option on the floor. This season Dallas has insisted on doing something similar with Chris Kaman (13 points, 8 rebounds) by getting him the ball early and often. While Kaman is a much better offensive player than Perkins, it really bogs the Dallas offensive down when he’s the focal point. Kaman attempted six shots in the first seven minutes of play, making two of them. In related news, Dallas only scored eight points in those seven minutes.
- Nice to see Darren Collison (11 points, nine assists) get a chance to play in crunch time against the Magic. After two close games where Carlisle subbed him in favor of Mike James down the stretch, Collison remained in the game late and knocked down the aforementioned corner three with under a minute left.
- To date, my favorite front court line up has been Vince Carter-Dirk Nowitzki-Elton Brand. Carter’s ability to stretch the defense is usually huge. However, against the Magic the Marion-Nowitzki-Brand line up produced some excellent offensive basketball. In the second quarter, a Marion-Nowitzki pick and roll with Marion as the ball handler caused havoc for the Magic defense. With Brand sitting at the free throw line, Dirk rolled to the baseline after setting a screen and caught the Marion pass. The defense sagged in anticipation of his move and Dirk simply passed to the open Brand for a jumper. On another possession, Dirk slipped the screen he set for Marion, bringing his defender and Brand’s with him to the baseline. Marion whipped a pass to the wide open Brand for another jumper.
- All of the Maverick guards could learn a thing or two about off ball movement from J.J. Redick (18 points, 4 assists). Since he’s a bit limited athletically in comparison to other NBA guards, he uses well timed cuts and textbook understanding of screens to get open. In the second quarter, he ran his man through two perimeter screens which freed him for a wide open baseline jumper.
- The chemistry between Shawn Marion (20 points, 10 rebounds) and Vince Carter (15 points, six assists) is fun to watch. Though they don’t share the court that often, usually in the first quarter when Marion slides over to power forward for a few minutes, there’s often exciting basketball when they get to play together. The Maverick’s 99th and 100th points came from a Carter-Marion alley oop lay up. Marion spun and released off of Aaron Afflalo and Carter placed the ball where only Marion could catch it.
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.