The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 99, Toronto Raptors 86

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 30, 2011 under Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

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TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR

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 won’t fully subscribe to the hyperbole and say that Ian Mahinmi (19 points, 6-6 FG, five rebounds, two blocks) was the best Maverick on the floor on Friday, but he was likely the most active and — at the very least — the most surprisingly effective. Mahinmi did some solid work on the defensive glass, but he impressed most in his cuts to the rim off of pick-and-roll sequences and as a weak side counter to double teams in the post. It was a blast to see Mahinmi provide a legitimate offensive impact, but let’s not go overboard: Mahinmi was only so effective because of the Raptors’ inability to cover for their own defensive overloading.
  • The Mavs managed an efficient offense without offensive flow, effective shooting, or superior ball control. Offensive rebounding was the crutch early (Dallas grabbed an offensive board on 45.5 percent of their misses in the first quarter), and frequent free throw shooting carried them throughout. The shooting finally came around, but only after the Mavericks amassed 37 free-throw attempts in a 90-possession game.
  • Andrea Bargnani (30 points, 11-18 FG, seven rebounds) didn’t look new and improved — he just looked improved. Subtle changes in approach translated into a highly productive and efficient outing for Bargs, as virtually all of the Mavs’ big men struggled to defend him on the perimeter. His pick-and-pop game with Jose Calderon was deadly; Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd both managed to look a step slow in their efforts to defend it, resulting in a disappointing number of wide-open jumpers. Bargnani capitalized, and used his pick-and-roll success as a launchpad for a terrific all-around shooting performance.

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The Difference: Toronto Raptors 84, Dallas Mavericks 76

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 29, 2010 under Recaps | 3 Comments to Read

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TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR

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 deserve no leniency, no respite from blame. They lost to a bad team. They lost to a bad team missing Jose Calderon, Sonny Weems, Andrea Bargnani, a half-game from Linas Kleiza (who was ejected), and a limited stint from Jerryd Bayless (who injured his ankle, left, returned, re-injured his ankle, and departed for good). They lost at home. They lost a game they should have won unless half of their roster was comatose, and yet they failed to keep pace. This loss doesn’t mark the end of Dallas’ days, nor does it quash the Mavs’ dreams of contention, but it’s a notable demerit that can’t just be written off.
  • Ed Davis may have been the best player on the court for either team. He notched 17 points (on eight shots), 12 rebounds, three steals, three blocks, and zero turnovers in just 31 minutes, which is a bit more than most anyone expected from the rook against a proven defense. Davis has a nice touch and good instincts, but he had it way too easy. Brian Cardinal’s substantial minutes at the 4 didn’t help, but Shawn Marion really should have (and could have) done a better job in boxing out Davis and keeping him away from the basket.
  • Marion (12 points, 5-10 FG, five rebounds, three turnovers) and Caron Butler (15 points, 7-16 FG, three rebounds, four turnovers) had decent games, but with the Mavs’ various defensive concessions, that wasn’t enough. If Dallas had put together a superior defensive showing, a win would have been reasonable even with an average offensive performance sans Dirk. Instead, Jason Terry was the only Maverick with a plus offensive performance, and the team sputtered to a mark of 90.5 points scored per 100 possessions. Yuck.
  • Dallas was plagued with unproductive passing and frequent ball-handling errors. On average, the Mavs commit a turnover on 13.8% of their possessions. They forked it over on 20.2% of their possessions last night, in part because of over-dribbling and over-passing that took the place of substantive playmaking. Dallas has an excellent creator in Jason Kidd (seven points, 3-11 FG, six rebounds, four assists, three turnovers), but he did little to set up his teammates with quality looks, and when he did, they were unable to connect. Not all of the Mavs’ failures were due to execution — they missed a number of quality three-point looks in the  fourth quarter, for example — but turning the ball over so frequently stalled Dallas’ offense and triggered Toronto’s fast break.
  • The three-point shooting finally came back to earth. Dallas made just five of their 22 attempts from beyond the arc, good (probably the wrong word choice) for 22.7%. The starters didn’t make a single three, and Kidd, DeShawn Stevenson, and Butler combined to go 0-for-7 from distance.
  • Nowitzki misses very few games due to injury, but on those rare occasions where he does sit, the folks watching at home are usually gifted with Dirk’s on-air broadcast stylings. Nowitzki joined Mark Followill, Bob Ortegel, and Jeff “Skin” wade for over half of the third quarter last night, and didn’t disappoint. He took shots at Brian Cardinal and Jason Kidd for their age (the latter of which he said was 58 years old), gave a lengthy defense of his game-night sartorial choice, offered some intelligent commentary, exploded after Tyson Chandler slammed home a Kidd alley-oop, and yelled “Got ‘em!” after Linas Kleiza was ejected. Followill described Dirk’s on-air showing as an “A+ performance” during Nowitzki’s sign-off, to which Dirk fittingly responded: “Yes, it has.”
  • Where have you gone, Tyson Chandler? Maverick nation turns its lonely eyes to you. Brendan Haywood (two points, two rebounds, one block) was predictably lethargic, but Chandler (three points, six rebounds, three turnovers), too, had a bit of an off night. He may be the second best Mav on his better days, but this was certainly not one of them. Ian Mahinmi was the most impressive big to man the middle for Dallas, and he didn’t exactly have a huge night; two points, one rebound, and two blocks for Ian.
  • As poorly as Dallas played, they still had a winnable game sitting in their lap for most of the fourth quarter. The Mavs rushed shots. They turned the ball over some more, just for kicks. They surrendered open looks to Leandro Barbosa (12 points, 5-12 FG, two stealsk) and DeMar DeRozan (16 points, 7-13 FG). They just flubbed any chance at serious competition over the final minutes. Needless to say, Dallas needs to be better. These losses happen, but the Mavs need to be better.

Dallas Mavericks 109, Toronto Raptors 98

Posted by Rob Mahoney on March 2, 2009 under Recaps | 8 Comments to Read

Photo by AP Photo/LM Otero.

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You don’t mind the rain if you haven’t seen the sunshine.”

Kidd hit 10,000 assists.  Jason Terry returned.  The James Singleton tour rages on.  Let the good times roll.

For one night, not much went wrong in the world of the Mavericks.  Unless you’re J.J. Barea, who ended up -8 in point differential and -2 in teeth on the night.

Photo by Mike Stone/Reuters (via DMN Mavs Blog).


Chris Bosh posed a lot of problems for the Mavs, but that’s bound to happen.  Dampier just isn’t mobile enough to keep up with him, and Brandon Bass/James Singleton lose in height what they make up in speed.  The results on that front were fairly predictable: 28 and 10 for Bosh, and early foul trouble for the aforementioned Mavs.  To their credit, Bosh shot just a hair under 50% and didn’t really explode.  28 points is great production, but surprisingly manageable given the Mavs’ offensive explosion and the Raptors’ lack thereof.

I’m sure you know by now that basketball is a “game of runs.”  To be perfectly frank, I don’t expect the Mavs to come remotely close to locking teams down; the foundation just isn’t there.  Instead, the key is to appreciate stretches of successful defense and a team-wide ability to counter offensive runs.  Any success the Mavs are going to have in the playoffs is based on their ability to endure and strike back.  If they roll with the punches and land some of their own, they’ll be just fine.  Otherwise, they just stand there taking hit after hit to the kisser and forget that they control their own destiny in their hands.  The Raptors are far from a great team, and their laundry list of problems runs much longer than ours.  Still, the Mavs answered virtually every Raptor run with one of their own, and capped off their offensive explosions with some nice D.  An ideal turnout against a less than ideal opponent, but we’ll take it.

Of course it doesn’t hurt when the Mavs coaxed the Raptors into 37.4% shooting on jumper after jumper.  The defense was active and effective, but the Raps didn’t help their cause last night.

Jason Kidd may have totalled 10,000 career assists, but that milestone came in a game where he actually showed some assertiveness.  He did the usual Kidd thing, firing passes all over the court at angles no one else even knew existed, but he also refused to pass up layups and open shots.  He finished with 9 points and just 7 shot attempts, but I promise I’m not crazy.  One of the most infuriating things to watch is a point guard penetrate all the way to the rim but defer to a jumpshooter.  Kidd and Boston’s Rajon Rondo are the league’s primary culprits, and it’s just one of the examples wherein unselfishness can be a detriment.  I appreciate the effort and the thought process, Jason, but you’ve beaten your man.  Just finish the job, eh?

Great success for Maverick shooting guards.  Antoine Wright decided that Jason Terry ain’t got nothin’ on him, and went off for 14 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists in the first half alone.  Beautiful.  His 9ish second half minutes wouldn’t even come close to matching that production, but Wright’s line on the night was still enough to get me smiling.  Jason Terry looked surprisingly un-Jason Terry-like in the box score (8 points, 3-9 shooting), but he’s back man.  Baby steps.  The dude was out there wearing a Power Glove.  I’m glad to see #31 back on the floor and that purty jumper, even if it is errant and forced for a few more games.  Missed you, JET.

What can be said about James Singleton (12 points, 16 friggin’ rebounds…8 of which were offensive) that hasn’t already been said about the Incredible Hulk?  Singleton may not have a few bad movies and a completely overrated late 70s television series that has the benefit of the vintage lens to his name, but if you’re a Maverick opponent, you’re not going to like him when he’s angry.  Lucky for Mavs fans, he plays like he’s angry all the time.  Singleton is rebounding like a maniac, active as hell, and trying to tear down the rim with dunks on fast breaks and dead balls alike.  While I lament the fact that he’s three inches short of being our ideal center, I applaud his energy, skill, and intensity.

Lost in Singleton’s meteoric rise up the Maverick depth chart has been Brandon Bass.  He’s getting fewer and fewer minutes at center, but Sunday night was an excellent reminder that the man can still ball.  He’s still a tad turnover-happy, but his finishing ability is pretty superb, and when he doesn’t finish on his first attempt he’s almost always in position to give it a second go.  Stay within yourself, young squire, and I will love you forever.

Can you believe I’ve gotten this far without even a mention of Dirk Nowitzki or Josh Howard?  Dirk only had 24 points (8-19 FG), 10 rebounds, and 5 assists.  Yawn.  His typical brilliance was trumped only by his usual subtlty, ‘invisibly’ anchoring the Mavs’ attack.  (On another note: why is the word invisible always used as a pejorative when it comes to basketball?  There’s something wonderful about blunt domination, but I can see the advantages of killing an opponent without them knowing they’re being killed.)  Howard continues to boggle the mind.  His 16 points tells you he did fine on the offensive end, which is true.  But 0 steals and 0 blocks?  Just another example of the deception of the box score.  The team continues to excel whenever Howard hits the floor, and his somewhat empty statline is balanced by a +15 for the game.  Well done, chaps.

As someone who has watched Dirk’s entire career, I feel obligated to comment on Andrea Bargnani.  Dirk was the hopeful projection when Toronto drafted Bargs with the 1st overall pick, and it’s kind of silly.  It’s not that Bargnani isn’t talented, or that he doesn’t have some of Dirk’s skills.  Their approaches to the game are just fundamentally different.  Dirk’s ungodly efficiency is a product of a natural high ground, a high release, and a sweet shooting stroke.  What he lacks in athleticism and mobility he makes up for in footwork and precision.  Bargnani doesn’t share Dirk’s dominant shooting touch, as much as he loves to shoot.  But he does show a willingness and an ability to drive and finish, which is something in it’s own right.  He’s 23 and has all the time in the world, but for those still hoping to see Dirk 2.0, keep this in mind: Nowitzki is the exception, not the rule.  There has never been a player that combined Dirk’s size and shooting touch, and it may not be so soon before we see another.  Bargnani still has work to do (rebounding might be a point of emphasis), and I think he’ll turn out to be a swell player.  He’s only 23 after all.  But don’t be all that surprised to see plenty more 18-points-on-18-shots games.

Things are looking good for the Mavs lately.  That means we’re primed for a loss, right?

GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT: The Gold Star of the Night goes to James Singleton.  I’ve denied him his proper due for far too long, and he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse with a sick 8 offensive rebounds and 8 defensive rebounds.  Encore!