The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 96, Brooklyn Nets 113

Posted by Kirk Henderson on March 20, 2013 under Recaps | 4 Comments to Read

CautionNet

Box Score — Play-by-Play — Shot Chart — Game Flow

You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.

  • Dirk Nowitzki (16 points on 8 of 10 shooting) has 10.3 shot attempts over his last three games. He’s shooting 23 for 31 over that period. Dallas is 1-2 in those games. What else is there to say?
  • Dallas fans and Mark Cuban got a great view of the player they missed out on signing this off-season in Deron Williams (31 points, six assists). After a 2 for 7 first half, he responded shooting 11 of 18 in the second, lighting any Dallas guard on fire who came near him. He’s been slowed by a combination of ankle injuries, weight gain, and hubris, but since getting his mind and body right over the All-Star Break, he’s looked exactly like a player worth a $100 million dollar contract. Dallas missed out in a huge way by being unable to sign the former Colony High School player.
  • After outscoring the Nets by 10 in the first quarter, Brooklyn out-scored Dallas by 27 points over the next 36 minutes of basketball.
  • I lied. We need to talk about Dirk not getting the ball more. That his first shot didn’t come until the 6:35 mark in the first quarter is one thing, as the Mavericks actually played really solid offensive basketball. But when Dirk didn’t even touch the ball in the third quarter as Deron Williams and Brook Lopez shot 11 for 12 for 26 points in the quarter, alarms have to go off on the Dallas bench.
  • In the 16 games since the All Star break, Dirk Nowitzki is shooting 51% from the field, 49% from 3 point range, and 96% from the line.
  • On the one hand, it’s nice that Rick Carlisle has faith in his team to run his system over set plays. The offense is essentially a read and react system based out of pick and rolls. On the other hand, why Carlisle would allow Chris Kaman and Mike James to get into a pick and roll duel with Brook Lopez and Deron Williams at the start of both halves is beyond understanding. Neither player is efficient and neither player is going to be a Dallas Maverick next year.
  • Brook Lopez seems to relish playing the Dallas Mavericks. His offensive display was amazing, scoring 38 points on 22 shots and doing so in a variety of ways. He opened the game running a series of strong pick and rolls. He built on that by punishing Chris Kaman with some back down post moves. Lopez then went to a bit of a dribble drive game, taking full advantage of any Dallas defender, using both hands to get to the rim.
  • It’s frustrating that Elton Brand (four points, five rebounds) is playing his most ineffective basketball in months over the last six games, right as Dallas needs him to be his best. Brand has been a phenomenal addition to Dallas this year and I hope the front office finds a way to keep him beyond this one season.
  • Brook Lopez and Reggie Evans combined for 33 rebounds. The Dallas Maverick team pulled down 34.
  • This was the first game in some time where Dallas fans witnessed the limitations of Brandan Wright (nine points, on 4 of 5 shooting). Wright actually had a fairly nice stat line, given his limited playing time. But the Nets took full advantage of Wright’s slight frame, punishing him in one on one defense and on rebounding opportunities. Wright has improved dramatically over the last third of the season, particularly in help defense and rebounding, but occasionally teams with strong post players will take advantage of the fact that he weighs 210 pounds soaking wet.
  • With Jae Crowder hitting yet another corner three against the Nets, this shot is a potential weapon for the Mavericks moving forward. Though the sample size is a bit small, Crowder has hit 50 percent of his corner threes this season, as opposed to a mere 28% anywhere above the break. Crowder had a reputation of being a stretch four in college, but the distance of the NBA three has proven a bit too much for him this season. Interestingly, all of his corner threes this season have been assisted.
  • TMG’s own Bryan Gutierrez tweets that Carlisle doesn’t buy into the notion of Dirk not getting shots being an issue during these two recent losses. However, ESPN’s Marc Stein tweeted during the game that tonight he saw a top 5 on court anger moment from Dirk as he came to the bench during the fourth quarter. Something has to give.
  • There was an odd appearance in the first quarter of the rare 5-4 pick and roll. Kaman caught the ball on the right elbow and Dirk decided to set a screen for him in the middle of the free throw line. Dirk slipped the pick and Kaman fed him for a lay up, which Dirk missed, only to grab his own rebound and score.
  • Some rare playing time for Anthony Morrow (six points on 3 of 6 shooting). Looking oddly like the ghost of Jason Terry, Morrow played well on offense, hitting two tough shots and stealing an inbound pass for a third quarter ending lay up. Defensively, he seemed lost, as Joe Johnson got warmed up in the second with Morrow attempting to stick with him.
  • The shooting of Mike James by the quarter: 2 of 5, 0 of 1, 1 of 4, and 1 of 5 for a total of 4 of 14 for the game. He hits one shot and it seems to give him the confidence to keep shooting. When these shots come within the flow of the offense, as his fourth quarter corner three did, it boosts the Dallas offense, almost serving as a bonus. But when he hunts for his own shot, as he did through out the game, it actively hurts the Dallas offense.
  • Matt Moore of CBS Sports writes an interesting look into the death of the post entry pass as a NBA player skill. Given the Dallas woes to consistently get the ball to Dirk, it feels very timely.
  • After a strong 23 point win against the Timberwolves on March 10th, the Mavericks have gone 3-3 over their next six. With only 14 games remaining, the Mavs are now 3.5 games back from the eighth seed. However, they’re also too far ahead in the total league standing to benefit any from losing games for draft lotto positioning. Dallas currently stands in no man’s land.

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.

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 127, Atlanta Hawks 113

Posted by Connor Huchton on March 19, 2013 under Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

Clouds

Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.

  • How many teams have lost in NBA history after scoring 127 points in regulation?
  • Not many, if any, and the Mavericks didn’t join that barely existent or nonexistent group on Monday.
  • Dirk Nowitzki (7-11 FG, 2-2 3PT, 22 points, six rebounds, five assists) has been fantastic since the All-Star Break. Nothing emphasizes that more than watching him make difficult, long jumpers that anyone else would have absolutely no chance of making.
  • There are few basketball sights more comforting than seeing Dirk pump-fake, create no separation, wait, and drain a long-two regardless of any normal reality otherwise embodied.
  • As I noted the other day, the success of the Mavericks exists in a purely offensive context at this point, and the key to achieving that context is threes.
  • The Mavericks made 13 of 22 attempts from beyond the arc and did so with some unusual style.
  • O.J. Mayo (7-11 FG, 3-4 3PT, 17 points, four assists, one turnover) took the open looks the defense allowed and smartly rejected the ones they didn’t.
  • Mayo made several uncharacteristic passes to open cutters and used his pump-faking ability wisely. When he flows and decides carefully within the offense, few defenses can contend with the Mavericks’ offensive potency.
  • Tonight also displayed how easily Darren Collison (10-14 FG, 24 points, five assists) can decimate an opponent off the pick-and-roll and in transition when the stars align correctly. Collison’s pull-up-from-mid-range game emanated basketball lethality tonight and duly expressed the importance of transitional space in regards to his skill set.
  • The Hawks radiated listless lethargy tonight, striving clumsily to find consistent stops but failing upon the presentation of nearly every key moment.
  • Teams that don’t get back in transition or defend perimeter opportunities tend to struggle against this iteration of the 2012-2013 Mavericks, and the Hawks’ performance falls nicely in line with that category.
  • The Chris Kaman (7-11 FG, 14 points, seven rebounds) situation remains an intriguing oddity, as Kaman may play virtually no minutes or 21, like tonight, if he’s scoring well and the game trends in an offensive direction.
  • He and Brandan Wright (5-9 FG, 12 points, eight rebounds) are a perfect scoring center tandem for a fast-paced contest like this one – they combined for 26 points and 15 rebounds in 42 collective minutes.
  • Finally, if anyone wants to caption this, I’d love to read such a response. Beard battles don’t get much better than Nowitzki-Johnson.

The Rundown, Volume XVIII

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on March 18, 2013 under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment

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The Rundown is back. Every Monday (unless there’s a better feature to run with), The Rundown will chronicle the week that was for the Mavs, as well as let you know what is coming up for the boys in blue, with a unique spin. Simply put, it is your Monday catch-up on all things with the Dallas Mavericks.

The end might be near for the Mavs as another back-breaking loss finished their week. Dallas is now four games back of the Los Angeles Lakers for the 8th spot in the Western Conference with only 16 games left. It might take a miracle for the Mavs to make it 13 consecutive playoff appearances. Let’s take a look at the week for that was for Dallas.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 101, Oklahoma City Thunder 107

Posted by Kirk Henderson on March 17, 2013 under Recaps | 7 Comments to Read

Strike

Box Score — Play-by-Play — Shot Chart — Game Flow

You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.

  • Expect the lack of shot attempts for Dirk Nowitzki (23 points on 8 of 10 shooting) to become a narrative for the Mavericks in the coming days, though it’s something I’ve been concerned about since Dirk returned to form. Against the Thunder, he started off 8 for 8 from the floor off of a variety of different looks. His final make came at the 8:22 mark of the third quarter. He took two more shots in the quarter, then didn’t have a field goal attempt for the remainder of the game. Credit must go to the Thunder defense, but the responsibility falls to Dirk, the coaching staff and his teammates. His teammates are the biggest problem, as Mike James, Darren Collison, and O.J. Mayo seem bewildered as to how to get the big German the ball. Dirk posts up well, sets good screens and is the league’s most dangerous trailer. He’s had to resort to calling for the ball more and more often this season as his guards don’t seem to see him unless he’s yelling at them. He’s big, he’s blond, he even has an insane beard.  He’s also a former MVP and an NBA Champion. If this team still thinks it can make the playoffs it’s not going to do so on the backs of anyone other than Dirk Nowitzki. Get Dirk the ball.
  • Contrast Dirk’s stat line to that of once and future scoring champion Kevin Durant (31 points, nine rebounds). Prior to the fourth, Dallas had managed to keep Durant in check with 12 points while forcing a variety of turnovers. In the final period, Durant scored 19, taking full advantage of his size mismatch and demanding the ball from Russell Westbrook. In most cases Durant simply got the ball at the top of the key and went to work, very similar to the way Dallas used to use Dirk.
  • The development of Jae Crowder (11 points, four rebounds) has been a roller coaster. I greatly enjoy his man to man defense, but he has brief lapses in judgement that really hurt the Mavericks. Kevin Martin scored two layups on simple back door cuts when Crowder got caught watching the ball. Additionally, each of his turnover were very frustrating to watch; he somehow failed to see a Thunder player between him and his teammate. Each lead to easy fast break points in a tightly contested game.
  • The offensive rebounding from the Thunder, particularly from Serge Ibaka (18 points 16 rebounds including seven offensive) badly hurt the Mavericks. Due to the threat of Russell Westbrook (35 points, six assists), the Dallas big guarding Ibaka was forced to cheat over for additional help defense when Westbrook got a Maverick defender in an isolation situation. As a result, a smaller player usually had to rotate down to try to box out Ibaka which did not work.
  • In recent weeks, I’ve been a big fan of how O.J. Mayo has let the game come to him. He’s made smart choices and put himself and his team in a position to win. Though Mayo didn’t hurt Dallas against the Thunder, his nine points and three assists are not enough from a player many consider to be the second offensive option. Despite his growth as a player this season, he doesn’t give Dallas enough on a consistent basis.
  • We’ve most likely seen the last of Roddy Beaubois in a Dallas Maverick uniform. He broke a bone in hand in a rather strange play involving Kevin Durant. Though he’s out indefinitely at the moment, we here at the Two Man Game wish him a speedy recovery.

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.

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 96, Cleveland Cavaliers 86

Posted by Connor Huchton on March 16, 2013 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

Sunrise

Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.

  • Time makes us all fools, and the tale of Rodrigue Beaubois (6-10 FG, 18 points, five assists) firmly lives and breathes within the changing rhythms of time.
  • Not so long ago, Beaubois represented the Mavericks’ future; this year, he has unfortunately become a representation of disappointing present. The 2012-2013 season has easily been the worst of Beaubois’ career – his ability to score efficiently has submarined and Rick Carlisle has responded by keeping Beaubois out of the rotation.
  • Such a turn of events from the glory of three years’ past is difficult to contemplate and reconcile, but for one night, reconciliation deemed itself unnecessary. The Beaubois of March 15th, 2013 represents the basketball player every Mavericks’ fan once expected him to be – a scorer of flash and genius, an able passer, and an athletic marvel. In the bubble of a single instance, past expectations became reality, and we were allowed a brief glimpse of what could have been, of what should have been.
  • However passing that glance may be, the present is temporarily glorious, and the potential in Beaubois’ game will remain forever enthralling.
  • Of his 10 field goal attempts, only one occurred from between four and 23 feet. He’s never shot remotely well from the mid-range, so removing reckless jumpers in that alluring area could help keep Beaubois in the rotation. (I hope so.)
  • Brandan Wright (6-8 FG, 13 points, five rebounds) has essentially usurped the ‘scoring center’ role of Chris Kaman (2-4 FG, four points, six minutes) over the recent string of games, which I view as a positive development.
  • If Kaman can no longer embody the role he played in the earlier portions of his career, allowing Wright the chance to use those valuable minutes more effectively is the right choice, especially with the added bonus of an exciting block or dunk present.
  • Dirk Nowitzki (6-17 FG, 13 points, 11 rebounds) struggled a bit to begin the game (0-5 FG in the first quarter), but settled into a decent groove over the last three quarters. Early-quarter struggles followed by late-game success has been a trend for Dirk over this recent stretch of games.
  • A more odd and pleasant recent development has been his staunch rebounding, a trait never yet attached to his name. Dirk posted another double-double, his fifth of the season.
  • All five of those Dirk double-doubles (alliteration is fun!) are over the last 11 games. Are we witnessing a completely unforeseen and unlikely rebounding renaissance? (Probably not.)

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 91, San Antonio Spurs 92

Posted by Kirk Henderson on March 14, 2013 under Recaps | 3 Comments to Read

Storm Clouds

Box Score — Play-by-Play — Shot Chart — Game Flow

You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.

  • I was hoping to get to rave about the brilliant play of Brandan Wright (10 points, eight rebounds, two blocks), who had an amazing all-around performance against a top notch front court. But with the sixth Dallas loss by three points or less this season, the missed opportunities against San Antonio are a harsh reminder of why this team is an extreme fringe playoff contender at best. The decision making from an offensive standpoint was baffling. Why is O.J. Mayo pulling up for a jumper on a three on one fast break? Why is Chris Kaman taking the ball up the court on a fast break after a steal? Why doesn’t Dallas get the ball to Dirk more often in the high post like they did during the 2011 Championship run? The Spurs managed to score on the final possession in each of the first three quarters while Dallas was unable to do so a single time. Defensively the Mavericks bickered with each other for much of the first half as seemingly every Dallas player was slow to rotate, particularly in instances of ‘helping the helper’ after a rotation had already occurred  The Mavericks also spent far too much time chasing players around screens as a San Antonio player caught a pass moving towards the rim, forcing Dallas to foul or rotate to help early in possessions. Kahwi Leonard snuck in a back door lay up from a high post feed by Jae Crowder because Crowder’s back was to the ball, a defensive cardinal sin. Tim Duncan (26 points, 19 rebounds) bullied Dallas from pillar to post. Finally, the final shot by Vince Carter left much to be desired. As TMG’s own Bryan Gutierrez pointed out on twitter, behind or tied within three points, Vince Carter has taken the final shot six times to Dirk Nowitzki’s one since Dirk’s return. The main reason for this, I suspect, is that Carlisle knows not a single Maverick guard can reliably get a pass to Dirk. There wasn’t enough time for a Carter-Dirk pick and roll in that situation, and even though Carter is the best in the NBA from that particular spot, the Mavericks have to get something going towards the rim when the margin is a single point. Tim Duncan told David Aldridge in the post game interview that a step back fade away is exactly the shot San Antonio was hoping to force. That Dallas was in this game at all with Dirk, Carter, Mayo and Elton Brand shooting a combined 36% from the field is impressive, but the small mistakes Dallas makes throughout the course of the game keep catching up to them.

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.

 

Thermodynamics: Week 20

Posted by Travis Wimberly on under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Fire Ice
Thermodynamics (n.) – the science concerned with the relations between heat and mechanical energy

An undefeated week. 3-0. Say it aloud, because we’ve had little occasion to celebrate such things this season.

Okay, so admittedly, it was a weak schedule (the Mavs’ three opponents this week have a combined record of 77-115), and two of the games went down to the wire. But let’s keep in mind that we’re talking about the 2012-2013 Mavs, not the Mavs of yesteryear. For this squad, it’s no small feat to win three straight road games against any three NBA teams. And given that this team’s playoff hopes are slim, I for one plan to enjoy the small victories here and there for the remainder of the season.

Week 20 (@Pistons, @Timberwolves, @Bucks)

FIRE

1) Vinsanity

When the Mavs refused to move Vince Carter at the trade deadline, several observers questioned that decision, and perhaps rightfully so. But since then, Carter has made the Mavs’ front office look very prescient. He’s firmly cemented himself as either the Mavs’ second or third-best all-around player (depending on where you would put him relative to Shawn Marion), and he’s done so with excellent efficiency and irreplaceable leadership. This week, Carter averaged exactly 15.0 points per game, shot 18-of-31 (58%) from the field cumulatively, and pulled down 6.3 rebounds per game. That’s terrific, but it hardly tells the full story. Carter’s tenacity and willingness to take (and make) big shots was on full display this week. If you were one of the lucky few who watched the Mavs-Bucks game on NBA League pass with Milwaukee’s broadcast crew, you had the pleasure (as I did) of listening to them bemoan Carter’s bevy of clutch shots late in the fourth quarter. In net points per 100 possessions, three of the Mavs’ four most productive lineups on the season include Carter.  Carter now carries a player-efficiency rating (PER) of 17.7, the third-highest on the Mavs. Guess which Mav ranks number one by that metric?

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 115, Milwaukee Bucks 108

Posted by Connor Huchton on March 12, 2013 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Clouds

Box ScorePlay-By-Play – Shot ChartGame Flow

You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.

  • I have often considered, carefully and confusedly, what it means to be Vince Carter (6-10 FG, 4-6 3PT, 23 points) in 2013. I do not mean to imply that any one person can or should deduce clear meaning from the vast spectrum of another person’s life, but I have attempted do so all the same, if only in a strictly basketball context. Vince Carter’s career screams of exclamation points and external haranguing, the peaks of athleticism and the disgust of lethargy. I do not wish to say that “Vince Carter is all of us” or some other broad declaration, but it is fair to say that in some sense, his basketball career has been a drama, one filled with peaks and obscene valleys. Who he is now, after the central drama has settled and our collective thematic gaze has largely turned elsewhere, may be far more interesting than whoever he was once haphazardly thought to be. Now, he is an afterthought in the basketball world, and quite simply, that’s a shame. A quiet resurgence remains a resurgence, whether or not it is illuminated in the light of public spectacle. Our blunt words do not easily describe a state of solidity, constancy, and quality production with any real subtlety. Because while what Carter is doing and has done for the Mavericks this season would likely be described as “solid” from an outsider perspective, it is more than that. It is a careful reform, a moment of late beauty in a not-so-graceful career, a bloom after the basketball harvest. I believe in 2013 Vince Carter, and that is not something I thought I’d ever say.
  • 13 of Carter’s 23 points came in the fourth quarter, never more needed and artfully given. Carter rises and makes jumpers that he should not, and perhaps that is the beauty of the newly revitalized fourth quarter guru version of him.
  • Dirk Nowitzki (7-13 FG, 19 points, 11 rebounds), played well enough to warrant mention in this space. Of course, he always warrants mention in this space, but I especially enjoy an impressive Dirk rebounding performance.
  • When that exists in conjunction with his stalwart mid-range proficiency, well, that’s simply delightful.
  • Chris Kaman (0-2 FG, and nothing else) registered no stats other than two minutes played in a game in which he started, which is about as odd and inauspicious as a performance gets. I’m not sure if the injury was the cause of his brief stint, but all the same, this might have been one for the record books in terms of nothingness and the infinite beyond.
  • Tonight highlights the Mavericks’ recent trend of sterling offensive performances. This season’s team holds contrast in comparison to teams of years past, as victory often only comes on instances of offensive glory like this. Defensive victories are an unfortunate rarity, but on tenuous nights when the Mavericks make half of their field goal attempts, it doesn’t matter.
  • To close this recap, here is an effective joke and an interesting statistic. We like to cover every demographic here at The Two Man Game.

The Rundown, Volume XVII

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on March 11, 2013 under Commentary, Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

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The Rundown is back. Every Monday (unless there’s a better feature to run with), The Rundown will chronicle the week that was for the Mavs, as well as let you know what is coming up for the boys in blue, with a unique spin. Simply put, it is your Monday catch-up on all things with the Dallas Mavericks.

The Mavs continue to still have a chance to make the playoffs, somehow. The bottom half of the playoff picture continues to see teams floundering, allowing Dallas to keep their chances somewhat alive. Dallas now holds the 10th spot in the West, via a tie-breaker over Portland. They’re now three games back of the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth seed in the West. They showed some pride against the Rockets, O.J. Mayo came alive and a Mav was let go. Let’s take a look at the week for that was for Dallas.

Did THAT Really Happen?

- Mike James made his first start of the season (264th career) against Houston on Wednesday. It was his first start since Mar. 25, 2009 vs. Charlotte (with Washington). Brandan Wright also got a spot-start as he filled in as the starting center.  The Mavericks used their 19th different starting lineup of the year. Having Mike James start over Darren Collison can’t be a promising sign for Collison’s long term future with the Mavs.

- Rick Carlisle was surly, in his own comedic way. During the team’s shootaround in Detroit, Carlisle was very matter of fact to reporters in regards to the ever-changing starting lineup. “I’m tired of hearing about 19 starting lineups being a lot,” Carlisle told reporters. “I had 31 one year, so you guys can all go f— yourselves and I mean that in the most endearing way.” Maybe it took some self-reflection time to realize a better approach would work. “As you can tell this year, nothing is permanent,” Carlisle told reporters about the lineup changes. “Nothing is going to be set in stone.” You have to love Rick Carlisle. The Mavs used their 20th different starting lineup of the season at Detroit. Jae Crowder started at small forward in place of Shawn Marion (left calf contusion). Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Kaman, O.J. Mayo and Mike James joined Crowder in the starting lineup.

- Shawn Marion missed the games against the Detroit Pistons and Minnesota Timberwolves as he was dealing with a left calf contusion. He suffered the injury during the first quarter against the Houston Rockets in the second game of the home-and-home series. It’s a tough break for the Mavs as they desperately need all hands on deck as they continue to make their frantic push for the playoffs.

- Well, they don’t need ALL hands on deck as the team announced over the weekend that they had released guard Dominique Jones. Prior to the start of this season, the Mavs opted not to pick up the team option for next season in Jones’ rookie contract, making it clear that he didn’t fit in the franchise’s future plans. A first round pick in the 2010 draft, Jones never really made an impact on the Mavs’ roster during his time in Dallas. Sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein that patience with Jones had been dwindling for some time. When the Mavs wanted to send Jones back to the D-League for another assignment with the Texas Legends in Frisco, sources said that Jones balked, prompting the team to let him go Saturday. Why he figured he had the clout to say no to an assignment in Frisco is beyond me. It does take me back to the time I covered a game in Frisco during his rookie year and he was assigned to the Legends. I spoke to him after the game and he clearly appeared like he wasn’t happy being there. He’ll likely be remembered as the guy who simulated being LeBron James during the team’s series against the Miami Heat during the 2011 Finals. He’s an NBA champion, so there’s that. With his departure, Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Roddy Beaubois remain the lone Mavs from the championship roster.

- News circulated during the weekend that the Mavs nearly acquired Paul Pierce at the trade deadline. There might have been a logjam of wings (if Vince Carter was still on the roster) and there might have been a chemistry issue early on between Dirk and Pierce, but it’s a clear upgrade in talent if you get Pierce for the suggested pieces that were involved. Yes, Jae Crowder is playing well as a second-round draft pick, even better as of late, but he is nowhere near an untouchable player when it comes to a trade. The Mavs would have gotten older in the process. The goal in a trade isn’t to get younger, it’s to get better. With Rick Carlisle coaching the team, it’s fair to believe the Mavs would have gotten better with that trade.

- O.J. Mayo had a relatively clean week in terms of turnovers. Just over a week after Rick Carlisle said that he wasn’t a creator, Mayo proved he could find a way to be a distributor and do so while protecting the ball. His last turnover before his turnover at the 4:54 mark of the second quarter against Minnesota was at the 5:37 mark of the fourth quarter of the game against the Brooklyn Nets on Mar. 1. He went nearly 115 minutes of game action without a turnover.

- Once again, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, the Mavs plan to sign point guard Chris Wright, point guard of the Iowa Energy of the NBA D-League, to a 10-day contract before the team’s game against Milwaukee on Tuesday. Wright, a 6-foot-1, 210-pounder averaged 15.5 points, 7.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds in 37.0 minutes per game for Iowa, earning a spot in last month’s D-League All-Star Game in Houston. A product of Georgetown University, Wright actually was in New Orleans’ camp during the preseason, but he was waived days before the team’s season opener. The book on him is that he’s a strong guard with a stronger motor. He can get to the rim and finish (unlike someone else). He can be a pesky defender and also can play in transition. He still needs to show more consistency as a shooter and the ability to lead an NBA team, but the team could certainly do a lot worse than Wright. If signed, he will represent the 21st player brought on board for the Mavericks, tying the second-highest total in franchise history (1980-81 season). The franchise record for most players in a season is 27 during the 1996-97 season.

Note: Wright has a very interesting outlook on life that he will bring with him to the Mavs. For more, go here.

Box Score Revelations

- In his “best game of the year” according to Rick Carlisle, O.J. Mayo recorded his second double-double of the season (fourth career) with 13 points, six rebounds, a career-high 12 assists and zero turnovers in 33 minutes against Houston on Wednesday. His previous high assist total was 10 (at Golden State Mar. 30, 2009). Seven of Mayo’s 12 assists came in the first half, including five in the first quarter alone. The seven first-half assists were tied for the most assists he’s recorded in any half in his career (7 in first half at Golden State Mar. 30, 2009; 7 in second half vs. Golden State Feb. 9, 2013). He must like dishing the rock against the Warriors.

- The Mavs dished out a season-high 35 assists in the win over the Rockets on Wednesday (previous high: 33 vs. Minnesota Jan, 14). It was the most assists Dallas has recorded in a game since Apr. 12, 2010 at the L.A. Clippers (37). The Mavs recorded 30-plus assists for the fifth time this season (4-1 record).

- Dallas shot 52.6 percent (41-of-78) from the field in the win at Detroit on Friday. It marked the third time in their last four games (15th time this season) that the Mavs shot at least 50 percent from the floor. Dallas is 13-2 this season when they shoot 50-plus percent from the field.

- With a 100-77 victory over Minnesota, Dallas had their biggest margin of victory on the road this year. Their previous high was by 10 in Phoenix on Feb. 1. Dallas led by double-digits for the last 34:26 of the game. Dallas also had their largest rebounding margin of the year (59-40) in the game against Minnesota.

- Dirk Nowitzki had four turnovers against the Wolves. He had four, but there will be one that stands out more than the others. (Credit: CJ Fogler) That will surely be featured on TNT’s Inside the NBA (specifically Shaqtin’ a Fool). Poor Dirk.

Check Your Calendar

- The Mavs hit the second half of their four-game road trip with a trip to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks on Tuesday. Upcoming restricted free agent Brandon Jennings will have another chance to “audition” for the Mavs. News came out over the weekend that Jennings is considering signing the qualifying offer in order to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2014. That would be a gutsy move, but it does have a chance to pay off in a big way for the dynamic point guard. The game will mark the first of a back-to-back for the Bucks. They will head to Washington to take on the Wizards on Wednesday.

- The road trip will conclude with a trip down I-35 to take on the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs have had to play without the services of Tony Parker since the start of the month. He sprained his left ankle and will be out for about a month. That might hurt the Spurs’ chances of claiming the top seed in the Western Conference but that likely won’t mean much to them as they’re a squad that can play against just about anyone.

- Dallas will have two games at home to finish the week, starting with a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday. When facing the Cavs, it begins and ends with Kyrie Irving. The dynamic guard has taken his game to a new level. You could easily make a case that Irving could be considered a top-five point guard in the league. As the head of the snake, the Mavs will need to be ready to throw multiple weapons at Irving in order to try to slow him down. The Mavs might catch a break as Irving might have to miss the game. He suffered what is being classified as a shoulder contusion. Irving will be re-evaluated this week. The game will mark the first of a back-to-back for the Cavs as they will take on the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday.

- The week concludes with a matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder. It’s clear that the Thunder’s rolling on cylinders right now. Despite it being a tough game, this is one Dallas needs to try to steal as they continue to push for the eighth seed. The fact that it’s a home game should help for the Mavs. Both teams should be healthy and well-rested so neither team should have an excuse if they don’t bring their best game.

BG’s Baller of the Week

Baller status has been granted to one Brandan Wright. He scored in double figures for the fourth consecutive game (18th time this season) with his 13-point performance against Minnesota. Wright averaged 24.7 minutes, 13.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks during the week (all wins). He also shot 79.2 percent from the field during the week. The 24.7 minutes is a considerable and consistent uptick in action for Wright. He’s also seen some time at the power forward position during that time. No matter what portion of the year it is, Wright continues to have nice performances in spot duty. Rick Carlisle must be encouraged by the fact that Wright continues to perform well despite sporadic appearances from Wright.

Dallas needs Elton Brand’s aggression and tenacity. They need Chris Kaman’s versatility on offense. They need Bernard James’ energy in spot duty. Wright is showing that he can bring efficiency from the field when he’s on the floor. He still has work to do as a rebounder and as a on-man defender (though he is a decent team and weak-side defender). It’s obvious now that Dallas will try to beat their opponents with their depth. Over the week, Brandan Wright stated his case that he deserves to be a vital part to the team’s rotation.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 100, Minnesota Timberwolves 77

Posted by Kirk Henderson on March 10, 2013 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

howlingWolf

Box Score — Play-by-Play — Shot Chart — Game Flow

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 been one of the worst teams in terms of scoring the first six minutes of a game. Though it’s been less of an issue since the All-Star break, it reared its ugly head once again against the Timberwolves. The Mavericks have a tendency to settle for long twos early and if they don’t fall, the entire offense goes awry. Dallas scored six points in the first six minutes of action, and four of those six points came from Chris Kaman. The Mavs still have hopes for the playoffs, but cannot start games this way against better teams down the stretch and expect to win.
  • Following the win over the Wolves, the Mavericks are now riding a three game win streak, primarily on the back of two road wins. The wins over Detroit and Minnesota were the first two road wins in a row for the Mavericks since winning in Phoenix and Houston on December 6th and 8th. Dallas has not won three road games in a row this season.
  • The pace of the game changed when Rick Carlisle opted for mass substitutions at the four minute mark of the first. Darren Collison’s instinct to push paired with Vince Carter’s play making and shot taking abilities have been a huge boost off of the bench lately. In retrospect, the 14-0 run to start the second quarter essentially ended the game, and Collison and Carter led the way during that charge.
  • Fans must be careful reading into these last two road wins; both teams, particularly the Wolves, are dealing with the loss of key player personnel.  The entire starting front court for Minnesota was out against Dallas. Kevin Love broke his hand for the second time this season, Andrei Kirilenko was out with a calf strain, and Nikola Pekovic  is dealing with a abdominal strain.
  • I’ve questioned Collison’s decision making and defense frequently this season but I do not doubt his talent. So often he makes a few poor decisions early and it changes how he approaches the game. Against the Timberwolves he probed early and often, particularly along the baseline and it lead to wide open shots for his teammates. Back to back eight assist games should help bolster his confidence moving forward.
  • Watching O.J. Mayo (eight points, eight assists, seven rebounds) play complete basketball games is really entertaining. While he might be known for his three point shooting this season, Dallas has benefited from his play making when he lets the game come to him. His shooting ability forces defenses to respect his jumper, thus opening up driving lanes where he’s made excellent decisions as of late. I particularly enjoy his use of the bounce pass during fast break situations.
  • Though I do enjoy seeing Collison’s blazing speed, he has a tendency to overvalue how that may work to his favor, particularly on fast breaks where the Mavericks do not have a numerical advantage. So I was delighted to see Collison recognize instances where attacking wasn’t to the Maverick’s benefit.
  • In the second quarter, Collison got an outlet and pushed ahead of his teammates. He still had four defenders in front of him so he slowed slightly, let Dirk Nowitzki post up along the left side, then drove past him as his man decided to play the pass. Collison was met at the rim by a defender but passed to an open O.J. Mayo in the opposite corner. Mayo then reversed the ball to the trailing Vince Carter, who knocked down the open three pointer.
  • The Wolves PA system played the musical portion of “The Real Slim Shady” at one point during the first half. I’ve become used to all of the pop hits mixed in with weird sound effects from the various NBA arenas this year. Hearing that particular Marshall Mathers song was a bit odd to say the least.
  • Our good friends over at A Wolf Among Wolves have detailed just how horrid the Timberwolves three point shooting has been this year. A 2 of 18 performance against Dallas will do little to make their fans feel better.
  • During the Maverick title run, Rick Carlisle occasionally opted with the three guard line up featuring Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, and JJ Barea. The Wolves attempted something similar against Dallas putting out Barea, Luke Ridnour, and Ricky Rubio for a stretch of time. I’m guessing this was mainly due to necessity as six of the Wolves’ nine healthy players were forwards, none of whom are particularly adept ball handlers. The Wolves probably hoped the small ball line up would put Dallas on their heels, but this line up for Minnesota was unable to convert much of anything.
  • The Maverick announcers made a point of mentioning that Dallas won the rebounding battle against Minnesota. I should hope so, seeing as the Wolves missed 56 of their 88 shots. There were plenty of opportunities to grab rebounds.
  • I must admit there are times when I miss J.J. Barea. His ability to get to the rim for a player of his size is still something I am in awe over. He made one spinning left handed shot over the bigger, stronger Jae Crowder that illustrates his value. Of course, with the Wolves dealing with so many injuries, Barea has been forced into a role that doesn’t really suit him. The Wolves need his scoring, whereas during his time in Dallas, his ability to get to the rim and hit shots served as a change of pace from the Dirk-centric offense.
  • As the game wore on, it became apparent that no one on Minnesota’s team wanted to take an outside jump shot. The guards of Minnesota actually got a fair number of penetration and kick out opportunities, but they simply couldn’t knock them down.
  • Jae Crowder, who is not normally a well regarded decision maker, led a fast break that resulted in a look away bounce pass from Crowder at the top of the key to Chris Kaman on the right block, who used a whirling dervish spin towards the middle for a lefty hook.
  • The Wolves had no answer for Vince Carter (22 points, nine rebounds). Shooting 4 of 5 from deep helped open the game up for Dallas early.
  • Had Dallas forced it to him, this felt like a game where Dirk Notwizki (16 points, nine rebounds) could’ve had 30. He scored from all over the floor tonight, particularly from his sweet spot along the baseline.
  • Dirk did, however, have four turnovers, including one on the base line where he was wide open. He rose to shoot a jumper, then decided to pass to a diving Kaman. He must have realized Kaman was cut off because he came down with the ball still in his hands, which is a clear travel. Dirk headbutted the ball in frustration. His willingness to pass to his centers is fantastic, but sometimes I want Carlisle to remind him he’s Dirk Nowitzki and the baseline jumper, particularly the wide open jumper, strikes fear in the hearts of his opponents.
  • I wish Coach Carlisle would have gone to his bench players sooner. The game was out of hand to start the fourth, yet he waited until the four minute mark to give Anthony Morrow any sort of run. If the front office made the move to acquire Morrow, there had to be a reason, so I believe Carlisle should actually give him situational minutes, particularly when a game is already decided.
  • In a similar vein, Dallas opted to waive Dominique Jones and all signs point to the signing of Chris Wright from the developmental league. It feels like a bit of a hedge on the season, particularly since Dallas is still technically in the playoff hunt. Wright won’t see a minute of action until the Mavericks are mathematically eliminated, which might be a while, given how this team refuses to quit.
  • I hope Dallas is somehow able to resign Elton Brand (10 points, 12 rebounds). He works well with Vince Carter on the offensive end, but he does so many little things on both ends of the floor that Dallas would be lucky to keep him past this season. I’ve grown to appreciate the way he gets his shot off despite his waning athleticism and I love how he seems to relish punishing younger, more athletic players.
  • Derrick Williams (18 points, nine rebounds) has been impressive putting up numbers in the absence of the Timberwolf front court starters. It’s clear he has the talent to play in the NBA, but his game seems better matched to a high octane offense. Of course, like Brandan Wright, he seems doomed to forever be a tweener forward, unless he can extend his range to the NBA three point line. He knocked down a number of distance numbers against Dallas, but the Mavericks left him wide open for both his three point attempts.
  • Speaking of Wright (13 points, seven rebounds), the Mavericks have found ways to use him recently to really show case his offensive abilities. Though he’s been getting more minutes recently, he hasn’t been the defensive liability he was earlier in the season. His help defense has been solid and he’s no longer trying to block every shot within 15 feet of him. I doubt he stays in Dallas past this year, but he’s going to be an NBA contributor somewhere in the 2013-2014 season.

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.