You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- At the 6:03 mark of the fourth quarter, Dallas called a momentum killing timeout after taking a 90-87 lead. The previous three minutes of action saw Mike James and Vince Carter trade baskets with Kobe Bryant, with Dallas actually extending a one point lead to a three point lead. From the 6:03 mark to the 2:49 mark, the Dallas offense went cold, as coach Rick Carlisle elected to remove Dirk Nowitzki after a frustration technical. Los Angeles proceeded to recapture the lead with a 7-0 run. Dallas never led again. The Mavericks have essentially ended any real chance they had left of making the playoffs.
- When a team’s lead rotation guards (Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo, Mike James) shoot a combined 8 for 29, it’s very, very hard to win. The point guard situation in particular is maddening. Collison (seven points, 3 for 11 shooting) hates contact on drives and as a result settles for his terrible looking jump shot far too often. It looks like a 1950′s set shot where he’s pushing it at the rim. When his shot isn’t falling he stops probing the defense with his dribble and the Dallas offense bogs down. Then there is Mike James (six points, 3 for 9 shooting), who is shooting 32% on the year. James doesn’t seem to understand that just because he gets into the lane, that doesn’t mean he has to pick up his dribble. It forces James to find an open man, like he did late for the O.J. Mayo three, or it forces him to shoot, which he does far, far too often. James hits just enough tough shots to justify in his mind taking more. It’s a perfect example of good result validating a poor process. The basketball community at large doesn’t understand why Carlisle opts to go with James over Collison, but what’s far more confusing is why he sticks with James instead of letting Roddy Beaubois have a chance.
- Vintage was the word of the day with vintage superstar play from both Dirk Nowitzki (30 points, 13 rebounds, his first double-double of the season) and Kobe Bryant (38 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists). Kobe has the best perimeter footwork of any guard in the league when he’s in isolation and it’s not even close. He picked apart every Dallas defender from O.J. Mayo, to Shawn Marion, to Jae Crowder. Crowder and Marion actually did reasonable jobs on Mr. Bryant. Go check out Kobe’s fourth quarter shot chart; he took and made five amazing shots, none closer than 17 feet. Dirk looked better than I’ve seen all year, particularly on the defensive glass. He’s not been consistent boxing out this year and he found Lakers to put a body on all night. Offensively, he missed a number of “automatic” Dirk shots, but still managed to shoot 11 for 19 from the floor. However, I continue to be concerned with the Dallas guards not looking for him. I counted five times I heard him call for the ball on fast break opportunities where Darren Collison or Mike James or O.J. Mayo weren’t looking for him. He’s usually open for three on fast breaks or second chance opportunities (where he hit all four of his attempts) and it boggles the mind when the team doesn’t even look his way. I counted five times on fast breaks or second chance looks where Dirk had to audibly call for the ball. This shouldn’t happen. The team needs to be looking for him at all times.
- If I recall the signing correctly, O.J. Mayo (eight points, three turnovers, 2 for 9 shooting) was billed as a potential second option for Dirk Nowitzki. I am unimpressed and quite concerned that Mark Cuban thinks he and Darren Collison are the back court of the future for the Mavericks. His ineffectiveness when being guarded by Kobe Bryant is one thing, but the Lakers actually stuck Jodie Meeks on Mayo for large stretches. Mayo’s inability to do anything of value other than drive and kick (which he did three times) really hurt Dallas on the offensive end. His shot selection remains horrid, with seven of his nine shots being from 17 feet or further away from the rim. I counted three situations where the a Laker big switched on to him from a pick and roll and Mayo simply dribbled between his legs and then took a fall away jumper.
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.