You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- The Mavericks have failed consistently when trailing in close contests this season, which made the Mavericks last-minute triumph on Friday night feel particularly rewarding. Mike James (2-4 FG, 1-2 3PT, five points) and Vince Carter (7-13 FG, 5-7 3PT, 22 points, nine rebounds) nailed consecutive essential threes in the final minute, the latter of which secured the Mavericks’ win.
- Vince Carter’s three served as a nice reminder of why the Mavericks appeared so reluctant to trade Carter as the deadline neared. He’s been frankly great in comparison to expectations this season, through an amalgam of three-point skill, defensive improvement, and solid rebounding. Few players fulfill their roles as well as him, and never was that more true than in the final momentous seconds of a badly needed win.
- Dirk Nowitzki (10-17 FG, 2-3 3PT, 25 points, seven rebounds, four assists) controlled the game offensively from the mid-range areas, namely on the right side, and continued his trend of looking progressively more comfortable serving as the Mavericks’ primary focal point on any given possession. The spacing Dirk creates just by finding a jumper rhythm early on is absolutely vital to the Mavericks three-point shooting and scoring efforts (Dallas was 8-20 from three tonight).
- A couple of other thoughts: Bernard James (2-2 FG, four points, six rebounds, seven blocks) played an aesthetically pleasing and effective game tonight. He finished well, rebounded very well, and defended tenaciously. Seven blocks in 15 minutes is pretty impressive, no matter how you view it. I also want to mention how well the Mavericks passed tonight: 26 assists to 12 turnovers, a ratio I’d partially assign to Dirk’s presence and partially to the measure of perimeter spacing the Hornets allowed, which the Mavericks seized strongly.