You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- Point 25,000 and 25,001 for Dirk Nowitzki came in classic Dirk fashion: he caught the ball on the left wing against Robin Lopez, faced up, jab-stepped, then released a high arcing jumper that touched nothing but net.
- Dirk was so ready to be beard-free that he actually ran to the locker room and started trimming his mane immediately. Rest in peace, Dirk’s Beard. We’ll miss you, though not what you represented.
- The Hornets were unable to connect around the rim, shooting just 40% in that area. The Dallas defense played well enough, but New Orleans mainly saw a large number of shots take bad bounces around the rim.
- One of the better developments of the season has been Brandan Wright learning to challenge shots with his length without necessarily leaving his feet. Early in the season, Wright would jump at anything, often allowing dribble penetration or offensive rebounds because his attempt to block a shot would force a rotation cascade effect. In the first half Wright challenged a number of long jumpers simply by getting his long arm up in he vicinity of the shooter.
- Dirk became the 17th player to hit the 25,000 point mark in NBA history. He also became just the 9th player in NBA history to tally 25,000 points and 9,000 rebounds. Not bad for a soft European who “only” shoots jump shots.
- The leading scorer for Dallas, Shawn Marion, did his work quietly, putting up a fantastic line of 21 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Eight of his 10 made baskets came around the rim, including two nifty fading hooks in the first quarter.
- Chris Kaman doesn’t collect many assists due to his style of play, but he helped Marion get two points off of an excellent pass from the free throw line when Marion’s man left him in the corner. Seeing the double team, Kaman passed over the top of two Hornets to a cutting Marion for the slam.
- The Mavericks shot a blistering 52% from the field, which helped hide the 20 offensive rebounds Dallas surrendered.
- The league is lucky that Ryan Anderson is on a lottery bound team. He needs virtually no time or space to get off a three pointer and is incredibly effective. I’m always shocked when Dallas leaves him alone behind the three point line, as three of his four long ball makes came on defensive breakdowns.
- It’s always surprising to see a defender close out hard Shawn Marion when he gets a pass in the corner. Though he’s shooting a respectable 33% from the corner this season, he’s taken less than 50 shots. Whenever a defender challenges him, he seemingly always puts the ball on the floor and drives middle, which causes a number of problems for an opponent’s defense. Late in the second quarter, Anderson closed hard on Marion and Marion drove middle and was able to fling up an odd left lay up which bounced in.
- To continue my trend of piling on O.J. Mayo, not a single one of his six shot attempts were within 15 feet of the basket. Whereas his New Orleans counterpart Eric Gordon attempted seven of his 17 shots in the area near the rim. It’s not that Mayo had a bad game (eight points, four assists); rather he’s invisible, so much so that the New Orleans announcers made it a discussion point.
- With the departure of Tyson Chandler, it’s become clear how much more effective the Mavericks can be with a defensive minded center paired with Dirk. A player like Robin Lopez is a solid example of such a player. He is a large body, defends the post reasonably well, and has enough offensive skill to keep opposing defenses honest.
- To be fair, Mayo was involved in my favorite fundamental basketball play of the game. In the second quarter, Shawn Marion grabbed a rebound and threw a bounce pass to the streaking Darren Collision. Collison took one dribble and fed the cutting Mayo, who left the ball for the trailing Marion for an and-one. It’s always delightful to see the ball move while rarely hitting the floor.
- The differential in bench scoring, 42 to 23, was nearly the same as the final margin.
- The Mavericks did something rare to start the fourth quarter after a small rally from New Orleans in the third: they went to their superstar. Dirk made Al-Farouq Aminu look silly, first by drawing fouls on jump shots on back to back possessions. Then he received a pass after slipping a screen and immediately fed it to a cutting Chris Kaman for a dunk. He finished his one-man show by hitting another jumper after getting Aminu off his feet with a pump fake. The Hornets never seriously challenged Dallas the remainder of the game.
- Vince Carter was once again a difference maker, putting up 15 points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists. Dallas has finished too far out of the standings for any Sixth Man of the Year consideration, but it’s safe to say that Carter has become the third most indispensable Maverick behind Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion for the 2012-2013 season.
- With the game well in hand, recently signed guard Josh Akognon saw some playing time. He managed to shoot the ball three times in three minutes. It’s unclear what future, if any, Akognon has with the team.
- Elton Brand recieved a “Did Not Play – Coach’s Decision” after returning Friday against the Nuggets. One can hope it’s to give him rest as Dallas will need him tomorrow night against the big and talented Memphis front line.
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.