You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- Patterns emerge over the course of a season, just as they do in every journey and in every life. The prevailing theme of this Mavericks’ season has been mediocrity, but the prevailing pattern is more complex and far too repetitive. That pattern is one of instantaneous fading, of an inability to sustain, and of a definitive lack of consistency. Such a pattern, of losing leads or the chance to compete in the basketball blink of a few minutes, can be particularly disheartening and draining. Those adjectives plagued the Mavericks’ heart in the last nine minutes of the final quarter, but for once, those adjectives did not win the day. A couple of jumpers from Dirk Nowitzki (6-14 FG, 12 points, seven rebounds) and O.J. Mayo (7-15 FG, 5-9 3PT, 22 points) saved Dallas this time, and the team’s playoff hopes, however scarce, remain intact for another day.
- The Mavericks did two things particularly well for most of the game’s 48 minutes: make threes and defend the perimeter. Dallas made 11 of 22 three-pointers (which is about 50%, according to my strident arithmetic), and held Detroit to 9-30 from three for the game. The first aspect of that performance isn’t too surprising, but the second certainly was, as the Mavericks have struggled mightily in the realm of perimeter defense all season. Though that strong perimeter defense didn’t last in the game’s closing tumultuous minutes, the overall showing encourages slightly, if not entirely.
- Brandan Wright, (7-10 FG, 14 points, six rebounds, three assists) a notable proficient scorer, scored quite proficiently (thus, living up to his notability) in a scant 19 minutes, and provided the low-post scoring spark the Mavericks needed. Wright is always an interesting player in the sense of how defined his strengths (scoring) and weaknesses (defense) are, but tonight his impressive combination of height, arm length, and vertical served the Mavericks wonderfully in the first three quarters of the game. (Basically, it’s always nice to have someone who dunks with incessant aplomb.)