The Difference: Minnesota Timberwolves 99, Dallas Mavericks 82

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 1, 2012 under Recaps | 4 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot Chart — GameFlow

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.

  • This is just the way of the season’s early going, apparently. The Mavericks more closely resemble themselves for a few games, but then dissolve completely on offense against a pretty poor defense just a few days later. We knew to expect struggles. We knew it would take time for the new Mavs to work their way into the system, and time for the old Mavs to work their way into game shape. But now we also know to expect complete inconsistency, as there are no assurances at all of which Maverick team will show up on a particular night. In this one? A team that scores 87.2 points per 100 possessions, and will wither away even against the most questionable defenses.
  • Dallas managed a brief return to normalcy with a fourth quarter combination of the zone defense and Dirk Nowitzki (21 points, 9-20 FG, four rebounds) attacking from all angles, but a timeout gave Rick Adelman a precious opportunity to calm down a jumpy young team. Ricky Rubio (14 points, 2-3 3FG, seven assists, four turnovers) drew the attention of defenders and hit spot-up shooters in the corners and bigs rolling to the rim, attacking the Mavs’ zone at two particular points of weakness. Kevin Love (25 points, 9-16 FG, 5-8 3FG, 17 rebounds) took over from there, and the Wolves finished the game on an uncontested 15-point spurt that left several minutes on the clock but no doubt in the game’s result. This year’s Timberwolves are every bit as entertaining as the manic team that ran up and down the court last season, but this year they’ve traded the unintentional comedy of a Michael Beasley-driven offense for a more sensible, balanced attack driven by pace and Rubio’s guile. It may not result in a playoff berth, but Minnesota is more than capable of “stealing” a game like this one against a supposedly superior team.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 104, Minnesota Timberwolves 96

Posted by Rob Mahoney on March 25, 2011 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

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, give or take a dozen or so considering the ridiculous scoring margin of this game.

  • 50 wins is a big deal or something, right? Seriously, though: Savor these incredible seasons. I know everyone within the Maverick organization will downplay the significance of 11 straight 50-win seasons, but it’s a remarkable accomplishment and has been an incredible gift to this fan base. Title or not, good basketball is good basketball, and that’s been the Mavericks’ #1 export for a little over a decade.
  • Anthony Randolph, who had been in hibernation for the last 10 months, was roused from slumber to thoroughly dominate a would-be contender. Last I checked, this isn’t the way it’s supposed to work. With Kevin Love out, the Mavs were supposed to go about their business and check out with a ho-hum, double-digit win. They weren’t supposed to allow a player without a meaningful basketball performance in months completely tear apart their defense from inside and out. Dirk Nowitzki couldn’t stay with him. Tyson Chandler wouldn’t step out far enough to contest his jumper. Shawn Marion was undersized around the basket. No Mav could stick Randolph, and though he’s admittedly a unique basketball specimen, let’s just mark this game down as another blemish on Dallas’ defense. Good on Randolph for his new career highs (he finished with 31 points, 14-20 FG, 11 rebounds, three assists, and two turnovers, for the record), but this — and the fact that Randolph’s night wasn’t the sole representation of Dallas’ defensive problems — doesn’t bode well for a team entering the playoffs in a matter of weeks.
  • The Mavs’ offensive execution wasn’t that bad. Not where it needs to be, mind you, but certainly not deserving of substantial criticism. The turnovers are still a bit too high, but quality attempts were there all night. That’s to be expected when facing the league’s 25th ranked offense, but it still deserves a note considering how poorly the Mavs shot from the field. Dallas made just eight of their 25 field goal attempts in the first quarter, including a horrendous 1-of-11 mark from three-point range. That shooting normalized as the game went on (and really, had already done so by halftime, as the Mavs shot 13-of-19 in the second quarter), but Dallas’ shooting numbers were sandbagged by the dead weight of that first frame.
  • Fine, fine work by Shawn Marion (17 points, 8-14 FG, six rebounds, two steals, two blocks) and Peja Stojakovic (16 points, 6-10 FG, 4-8 3FG, four rebounds) on the offensive end. Both were dynamite in their movement without the ball, and the Wolves’ defenders often got lost on curls and cuts. When Marion and Stojakovic can function this efficiently, it gives Dallas a brutal level of offensive versatility. They won’t both be rolling every night, but their performances in this one weren’t merely indicative of Minnesota’s defensive lapses; this was solid offensive play. Dirk Nowitzki (30 points, 12-26 FG, 11 rebounds, four assists) and Jason Terry (18 points, 7-12 FG, three assists) did their thing, but the former is expected and the latter is unsurprising. Enjoyed every high-arcing jumper nonetheless, but this is just what Dirk and JET do.
  • An interesting wrinkle to the Corey Brewer situation we saw manifest itself last night: when healthy, Dallas doesn’t even really have room for him on the active roster. Last night’s 12-man roster: Kidd, Beaubois, Marion, Nowitkzi, Chandler, Terry, Stojakovic, Haywood, Barea, Mahinmi, Cardinal, Stevenson. Brewer has been able to rock the warm-ups lately because of minor injuries to Marion and Stojakovic, but when both are active, I’m not sure where exactly Brewer fits at the moment.
  • Not a great night for some of the other Maverick regulars, but let’s dig for the silver lining amidst all the gloom naturally emanating from this game. Rodrigue Beaubois finished with just three points on 1-of-5 shooting, but did make a handful of nifty passes (several of the around-the-back variety), even if he doesn’t have the assists to show for it. Tyson Chandler didn’t have a great game, but he neared double-double territory while playing some nice defense in the second half. Jason Kidd had 13 assists and six rebounds, and isn’t that enough, really? J.J. Barea picked up six assists in 16 minutes, Brendan Haywood played passable basketball, and DeShawn Stevenson got to step on the court for four seconds of actual game action.

No Game Is an Island: Divine Intervention

Posted by Rob Mahoney on November 24, 2009 under Previews | 3 Comments to Read

The Golden State Warriors visit the Dallas Mavericks
7:30 CST

Don Nelson, Papa Bear of the chaotic entity that is the Golden State Warriors, has a complex relationship with his players. So complex, in fact, that I get the distinct feeling that he enjoys throwing everything into the fire just to see if it’ll burn. He ordains Monta Ellis the point guard of the future for the Dubs, just before openly bashing Ellis’ game and drafting Steph Curry to take his job. He hands Stephen Jackson an oversized check and smiles for the photo op, and then can’t manage to appease his team’s most talented player when all goes to hell. He drafts Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph, lauds their high ceilings and shiny chandeliers, and then digs them a hole under the bench. He’s not a simple man, that Nelson, and claiming to understand him is, in itself, an act of considerable arrogance.

So I won’t bother. I don’t know what caused Nelson to do all of those things, or what led him to believe Antoine Walker would work out as a point-center, or why he decided one morning to hand the team to Avery Johnson. But I do know that Nellie, for all of his glory as an unconventional offensive mastermind, has marred his time with the Warriors by making mistake after mistake after mistake. Any magic that the bay once had is long since gone, and the heroes of “We Believe” have been chased from the city limits by an angry Nellie and his torch. It’s not Nelson’s fault that the team’s design was flawed, or that Baron Davis or Stephen Jackson gave in to their lesser, more selfish instincts. But is is Nelson’s fault that Chris Mullin is now an outcast, and it’s on Nelson that this team disintegrated in a truly spectacular fashion. That’s item 1-A in Nellie’s playbook, and the only reason Dallas was spared was because of a strong team infrastructure, a stable talent base, and an owner with enough dislike for Nelson (by the end of his tenure, anyway) that he simply refused to let it happen.

But on occasion, even the deranged antics of a self-involved diva of a coach are at the mercy of basketball’s supernatural forces. Enough was enough, and though the people of Warrior Nation have yet to be relieved of Nelson entirely, they were granted one small token by destiny itself: Anthony Randolph.

In a way, Randolph was the ultimate tease. He redefined summer league dominance, carrying his momentum into the regular season with all the fanfare a depressed fan base could muster…and began the season with the resounding boom of just ten minutes of playing time. A team so desperate for big men that they employ Mikki Moore, and there were so few minutes to be had for perhaps the team’s brightest young star.

But over time, fate has forced Nelson’s hand. Foul trouble. Injuries. More Injuries. A few more injuries, just for kicks. And now the Warriors are essentially eight deep, and that’s if you’re willing to count the contributions of Moore and Chris Hunter. It’s the perfect opportunity for Randolph to break free of the stockades, and though his versatile game and bizarre gait don’t infuse the Warriors with a sense of order or purpose, sometimes it’s enough just to get one fan off the ledge. Nellie has tried his damnedest to keep this franchise in a box since 2007, and though Randolph is impressive enough to be notable without being earth-shattering, it’s a bit tricky to fit a 6’11” frame and that much game into such rigid confines.

It’s sad to see the once beloved Don Nelson of old become nothing more than the crabby old man next door. Especially so when you consider that Randolph, a lanky, unconventional, and talented big man, is the prime target of his tirades. How might things have turned out differently for the Mavs if Nellie took the same approach eleven years ago with a lanky, unconventional, and talented Maverick big man? Nellie was probably the best guy for the job of properly unshelling Dirk Nowitzki, and though his reputation isn’t quite what it used to be, that relationship was a bit of serendipity for the Mavs organization. Dirk simply isn’t Dirk without the opportunities and teachings that were afforded him by Nelson, and as an appreciator of fine talent and strange, versatile combo forwards, I can only hope that Randolph is given a bit of the same.