You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- Another bizarre game for the Dallas Mavericks. On the one hand, Dallas built a 20 point lead in only 16 minutes of action; on the other, the Mavericks managed to let Portland fight back within three points after a furious fourth quarter rally led by two rookies, Damian Lilliard and Will Barton. Dirk Nowitzki did not play in the fourth due to his foot bothering him, but it is still frustrating that Dallas was unable to win comfortably against a young team like Portland that is also dealing with a variety of injuries. Dallas is now 14-19 in games decided by 6 points or less.
- The early Maverick lead was primarily due to Chris Kaman (26 points, 11 rebounds). His first quarter work out of the left wing pick and roll with O.J. Mayo was very effective, scoring three different times in the period. The Blazers elected to hedge the screen with J.J. Hickson, but Mayo was able to split any attempt at a double team with a simple bounce pass which resulted in a Kaman jumper. When running a similar pick and roll with Dirk later in the first, the Blazer defender went under the screen and Dirk’s defender did not leave his side, forcing Mayo to drive and take an awkward floater which didn’t connect.
- I’m now firmly in the camp that believes the Mavericks must make a competitive offer to keep Brandan Wright (12 points, nine rebounds) for next season. His progression has been one of the few success stories to come out of Dallas in a season filled with disappointment. He’s managed to survive the ebb and flow of Carlisle’s ever changing rotations to contribute in a variety of ways. Against Portland he finished the half with two tough baskets, a block , and awarded Dallas an extra possession after fighting for a rebound after a missed Darren Collison floater. His fourth quarter help defense on LaMarcus Aldridge was huge. His game has limitations, mainly due to his lack of strength and body weight, but athletic big men with touch out to 15 feet are uncommon.
- Outside of the fourth quarter collapse, this was a solid defensive game for Dallas. After Wesley Matthews left the game with a sprained ankle, the Mavericks put some form of pressure on the ball handler every time up the floor, knowing Portland had limited options at the guard position. Portland was not able to get into an offensive set until late in the shot clock, resulting in rushed shots. Only after Portland went very small in the fourth did they negate this ball pressure, and they stormed back as the Dallas offense stalled.
- My favorite play of the game came with 2:30 left in the second quarter. Vince Carter tried to get the ball to a posted up Shawn Marion on the left side of the floor. Marion’s defender fronted him, so Brandan Wright flashed to the free throw line. Instead of passing to the open Wright, Carter opted to skip the ball cross court to Dirk Nowitzki on the right wing. Marion sealed the fronting defender and simply rolled to the open spot in the paint behind Wright’s defender where Dirk fed him for two of his twenty points.
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.