The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 95, New York Knicks 85

Posted by Rob Mahoney on March 7, 2012 under Recaps | 4 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
New York88.541.727.428.016.7

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

  • Execution is always a matter of great importance, but from opening tip this game came to be defined by the Mavs’ energy. Dallas came out of the gates with an insistence on beating New York in transition on offense and curtailing fast break opportunities on defense, perhaps best showcased by Ian Mahinmi (nine points, six rebounds, three steals, two blocks) flying back and forth across the court (for a block in transition, for a soaring rebound, for a gliding dunk, etc.). As Dallas’ energy waned, New York’s defense picked up and capitalized. The Mavs’ most successful stretches of basketball were dictated by their energy and assertiveness, and though those things were indicative in small differences in approach (Shawn Marion being more aggressive as a fast-break ball-handler, Rodrigue Beaubois looking to get to the rim, Jason Kidd not being gun-shy) than consistent, over-arching tropes, they were still very evident nonetheless.
  • It’s in that vein that I do have praise for Lamar Odom, in spite of a miserable shooting night and an otherwise neutral stat line. If nothing else, Odom played hard — and considering where he and his mind have been in the last few weeks, I think that’s an acceptable step. It doesn’t make 1-of-9 shooting okay, but under the circumstances the bigger issue is Odom’s commitment to the team and to the game. He has the talent to produce more, and if he’s engaged, he will.
  • Shawn Marion and the Mavs’ collective defense did a great job against Carmelo Anthony. It felt as though Anthony was actually getting to his favorite spots on the floor with some ease, but once at the rim or in his pet zones, rarely did he put up a shot attempt without a hand in his face. This was particularly true inside, where the Mavs’ interior defenders swarmed Anthony as early as possible. He was blocked from behind, forced to contort, and ultimately, held to six points on 12 shot attempts. Some of that is the natural process of the Knicks’ offense feeling itself out, but the Mavs did an outstanding job of capitalizing on some of the disarray and made Anthony a non-factor.

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Posted by Ian Levy on March 10, 2011 under Commentary | Read the First Comment

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Ian Levy is the author of Hickory High, a contributor to Indy Cornrows, and a part of The Two Man Game family. He’ll be bringing his intelligent brand of — mostly quantitative — analysis here on a weekly basis. You can follow Ian on Twitter at @HickoryHigh.

The Boston Celtics received plenty of attention earlier this season when their team FG% was sitting above 50%. This focus was certainly deserved; in the last 20 years, only 10 teams have finished a season shooting better than 50% from the field. Only two teams have done so in the last decade. Unfortunately, the Celtics’ shooting has fallen off slightly since that point, and now sits below the threshold at 49.3%. That percentage is impressive even it falls short of a nice, round benchmark, but even Boston’s strong shooting shouldn’t overshadow another remarkable shooting performance by the Dallas Mavericks.

The Mavericks are second in the NBA — trailing only the Celtics — with a FG% of 47.6%. That puts Dallas 1.7 percentage points behind Boston. If we look at eFG%, which factors in the extra point scored on a three-pointer, the gap between the two teams closes to just 0.2 percentage points. The thing that separates the two teams (and ultimately puts Dallas in front) is the difficulty of their shots.

Hoopdata calculates a field goal percentage measure called “expected field goal percentage,” or XeFG%. Shots from different locations have different difficulties: the league average FG% on a shot at the rim this season is 64.0%, the average FG% on shots from 16-23ft. is 39.5%, etc. XeFG% uses the league average FG% from each shot location and a team’s own average shot selection to calculate the field goal percentage the team would be expected to shoot. My own work on Expected Scoring at Hickory-High is an extension of this idea.

For example, the Charlotte Bobcats have an eFG% of 47.86% this season. The Minnesota Timberwolves have an eFG% of 48.00%. Only 0.14 of a percent separate the two. However, Charlotte’s XeFG% is 50.8%, two full percentage points higher than Minnesota’s 48.8%. Charlotte’s XeFG% is much higher than Minnesota’s because they take 10% more of their shots at the rim then Minnesota does. Although their eFG% is almost the same, looking at the XeFG% shows us that Charlotte is having a much worse shooting season than Minnesota because they are taking easier shots and should therefore be making more of them.

Hoopdata also expresses this idea of “more or less than they should” by calculating a simple ratio, eFG% divided by XeFG%. Here’s where we return to Dallas. When we look at this Offensive Ratio (eFG%/XeFG%) the Mavericks are leading the league at 1.07, Boston’s ratio is 1.05. Hoopdata has this same statistic available for the previous four seasons and over that stretch I could only find four other teams with an Offensive Ratio of 1.07 or higher. I’ll give you hint: It was the same team each season and they play within a four-hour drive of the Grand Canyon. If you guessed the Portland Trailblazers then you need to look at a map.

The thing I found most interesting is how Dallas has been able to accomplish this elite shooting performance on an very different shot distribution from the Phoenix Suns. The table below shows the percentage of each team’s shots which came from each location.

TeamSeason% At the Rim% <10ft.% 10-15ft.% 16-23ft.% 3PTXeFG%eFG%Offensive Ratio

The Phoenix Suns made this list each season by making a ton of the shots everyone expects to make: three-pointers and layups. Dallas has made this list with an incredible shooting performance on mid-range jumpers. 47.5% of the Mavericks’ shots this season are coming from the space between 3ft. and 23ft. away from the basket. The closest Phoenix came to that was in 2007-2008 when 42.7% of their shots were neither at the rim or from behind the three-point line.

When you think of the Mavericks excelling in the mid-range game, Dirk Nowitzki quickly comes to mind. Although he’s an exceptional mid-range shooter, he doesn’t deserve all the credit for the team’s shooting performance this season.

  • Rodrigue Beaubois, Ian Mahinmi, Peja Stojakavic, Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion are all shooting better than the league average on shots from 3-9ft.
  • Dirk Nowitzki, J.J. Barea, Jason Terry, Ian Mahinmi, Rodrigue Beaubois and Tyson Chandler are all shooting better than the league average on shots from 10-15ft.
  • Dirk Nowitzki, Peja Stojakavic, DeShawn Stevenson, Tyson Chandler, Jason Terry, Dominique Jones and Ian Mahinmi are all shooting better than the league average on shots from 16-23ft. Sasha Pavlovic and Caron Butler were also above the league average before they left the Mavericks due to ineptitude and injury respectively.

Altogether the Mavericks attempt 39.1 shots per game from that 3-23ft. space. 28.5, or 72.9% of them are coming from players who are above average shooters from that location. The quantity of players who are shooting well is striking but so is the variety. The list of names above includes players who fill significant minutes at all five positions. The ability to have nearly anyone on the floor knock down a mid-range jumper gives the Mavericks a tremendous amount of offensive flexibility.

I usually make an effort to abstain from unsupportable hyperbole, but I can’t help myself. This may be one of the best jump-shooting teams in history. 17 of the top 40 players in NBA history in terms of three-point field goals made are still active. Jason Williams, Baron Davis and Jamal Crawford all make the list, which takes some of the shine off this discussion. Still, 4 of those 17 who are still active play for the Dallas Mavericks, including three of the top 10. As I mentioned Hoopdata, only has shot location numbers available for the last few seasons so it’s tough to make a statistical argument on the mid-range abilities of teams predating that cut-off. Regardless, the numbers tell me the Mavericks have shooters everywhere and my eyes tell me those shots are going in like never before.

Dallas Mavericks 99, Los Angeles Clippers 83

Posted by Rob Mahoney on November 1, 2010 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOr
Los Angeles88.336.628.031.317.0

Wise are they who have learned these truths: Trouble is temporary. Time is tonic. Tribulation is a test tube.
-William Arthur Ward

Defense wins championships. It also wins regular season games against the Clippers.

There were fleeting moments in which the Halloween Dallas Mavericks resembled the same team we saw lose to the Grizzlies just two days prior, but for the most part, they took advantage of their matchup with the Clippers by running the damn show. This L.A. squad is talented, but not all that successful in many regards. Dallas made that awfully apparent in their systematic dismantling of the Clips on Sunday, their second impressive all-around victory to date. The Mavs’ schedule hasn’t thrown them any particularly tough outs just yet, but the team defense has been commendable enough to look past the relative standing of Dallas’ opponents. Right now, this team is performing well against the opponents the NBA schedule-makers have put before them, and that’s all anyone could ask of them.

The Mavericks’ defense is elite right now. Their struggles in other areas are puzzling, but their overall defensive effectiveness has been a rather pleasant surprise. I’m not sure how much you can take away from that effectiveness given, again, the opponents that have been on the Mavs’ slate thus far, but it’s certainly to Dallas’ credit that opponents like Charlotte and Memphis are no longer having huge offensive nights at the Mavericks’ expense. We’ll learn a lot about the sustainability of this remarkable defensive success over the next three games (a home-and-home with Denver, followed by a game against Boston), but defensive rebounding aside, Dallas has shown up in just about every defensive regard. They’re forcing opponents to play to their weaknesses (like giving the Clippers license to shoot from distance, for example), swarming anyone who gets into the paint, and attacking the passing lanes whenever possible. This Mavericks team looks to have the makings of a pretty tough defensive outfit, and that evolution goes far beyond anything that Tyson Chandler brings to the roster.

Chandler helps, of course. But the Mavs’ improved defense has relied just as much on Brendan Haywood, Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd, and even Jason Terry, Dirk Nowitzki, and Caron Butler. Great defenses often have a keynote talent, but for Dallas it’s been a team-wide effort that’s led to such resounding success.

The Clippers scored 88.3 points per 100 possessions. Think about that. Don’t even look at the differential, or the offensive rebounds for now. Just that 88.3 mark, and what it could mean. Validation or refutation is coming, but one way or another, this was a tremendous defensive showing.

The Clips’ effective field goal percentage was a pitiful 36.6%, and none of their top five shot-takers hit more than 33.3% of their field goals. There’s no statistical smokescreen there, just impressive, preventative defense. Oppressive at times, purely reactive at others, but limiting in almost every regard. The Mavs used their fouls wisely, played their opponents expertly, and contested almost everything. The open looks L.A. was able to create were the product of either calculated risks (Baron Davis threes, etc.), busted plays leading to busted coverage, or second chance efforts. The initial defensive action was strong all night, but once the Mavs flocked to defend any and every Clipper who made his way into the paint, they too often exposed their soft rebounding on the weak side. Chris Kaman, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and Craig Smith capitalized, as each of those Clipper bigs grabbed 3+ offensive rebounds. That could stand to change. But the initial effort that created rebounding opportunities through errant looks in the first place? Rick Carlisle could probably stand to get used to that.

We all could. Maverick fans, NBA fans, basketball fans, and casual Dallasites alike. This could be a rather fantastic team if they continue defending like this, and it should be fun to watch the Mavs try to live up for the precedent they’ve set for themselves. Dallas is 2-1, but the defensive aptitude they’ve shown thus far means more than any record ever could.

Final thoughts:

  • Last week, Jason Kidd stressed the potential impact of the Tyson Chandler alley-oop, a statement which I downplayed. I may have been wrong. Chris Kaman and Blake Griffin aren’t exactly premier rim protectors, but the Chandler oop made several appearances on Sunday, including one on an unexpected lob pass from Caron Butler. The Butler-Chandler oop almost looked like a design play, so keep an eye out for it in the future.
  • Blake Griffin is such an impressive passer. His vision, willingness to pass, and anticipation are all so impressive, especially for a rookie big. Saying that Griffin’s going to be special is very much implied at this point, but I’ll add that he’s going to be a very special passer, and perhaps already is.
  • Caron Butler did a much better job of attacking the rim, and he was rewarded with 10 free throw attempts. It’s fine for Butler to only shoot 40% from the field when he’s putting up 17 points on 10 shots, but when he goes shot-hunting with a less efficient approach? That’s when he hurts the Mavs’ offense more than he helps. The spot-up jumpers are fine. The drives to the rim are great. Everything else — the jab-steps, the crossovers, the step-backs — he should do without.
  • Fouling is Tyson Chandler’s religion, but in this outing he was only a part-time practitioner.
  • The Mavs really improved their box-outs in the second half, after the Clips hit the offensive boards particularly hard in the first half. Considering the effort on the defensive glass was one of the more glaring problems in the Mavs’ first-half performance, it’s nice to see that kind of adjustment from Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler, and Brendan Haywood.
  • Baron Davis can be an infuriating player to watch for a variety of reasons, but some of his feeds are just phenomenal. Davis threaded a majestic bounce pass through several Mavs defenders to a cutting Craig Smith at the 6:13 mark in the second quarter, and if you watch it at just the right angle, it might change your life.
  • Every basketball fan should love Eric Bledsoe.
  • Some weird first-half free throw shooting for Dallas, who shot 7-of-15 from the line as a team in the first 24 minutes: Marion was 0-2, Terry was 0-2, Nowitzki was 1-3, Butler was 4-6, and Chandler was 2-2. Spooky.
  • Haywood was fantastic. He was a no-nonsense finisher good for a few free dunks, far and away the Mavs’ leading offensive rebounder (he had four OREBs for the day), and chipped in 10 points and three blocks. He ran the break very well, helped maintain balance when Dallas shifted to more bench-centric units, and even drew an offensive foul. Just a terrific showing from Haywood, who outplayed Chandler for the first time this season.
  • Jason Kidd hit a 66-footer. No big deal.
  • Jason Terry’s shot selection has been a bit odd. He’s not shooting a poor percentage, but a few attempts stick out to me in particular over the course of the first three games. For some reason, JET has taken to occasionally pulling up for a long (the longest, really) two-pointer while tucked away behind a high screen. If he makes it, cool. It’s still the least efficient shot in basketball, and though Terry doesn’t have a hand in his face per se, it’s still a shot the Mavs should work to avoid.
  • Shawn Marion’s defense was fantastic yet again (he forced a one-man 24-second violation around the 9:45 mark in the fourth quarter), but his offensive contributions (12 points, 6-11 FG) were welcome. He also had a gorgeous assist to set up Brendan Haywood for a dunk after luring a last-ditch-effort Griffin off his feet.

GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT: There are a lot of solid options and no clear-cut favorites for Gold Star honors, so I’ll go with Brendan Haywood. His defense was fantastic both on the low block and against penetration, and I’m not sure we’ve ever seen Haywood so active on the offensive glass. He was working hard to create extra opportunities and crushing home every one he got in his mitts. That’s refrigerator material to me.

Dallas Mavericks 117, Los Angeles Clippers 94

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 13, 2010 under Recaps | 9 Comments to Read

Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images.

Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOr
Los Angeles103.349.414.527.516.5

Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.

What exactly do you make of a team doing everything it’s supposed to do? In most cases, a veteran team with 54 wins and (at least) the 3rd seed in a fiercely competitive conference needs not the satisfaction of an April win over the Clippers. This Dallas team is technically in such a position, but they’re hardly the playoff ideal; they haven’t been on a month-long tear, the defense isn’t as proven as you’d like, and there are still questions as to how the Mavs’ center duo will perform against a conference full of capable bigs.

Still, it’s impossible to deny how positively dominant the Mavs have been in their last three games, in which Dallas has demolished a trio of inferior opponents and nearly secured the no. 2 seed in the process. They don’t have a month’s worth of momentum on their side, but the way the Mavs have been able to establish early leads with their starters, maintain the advantage using the reserves, and limit the minutes of the central figures gives plenty of reason for optimism. There’s no question that this team has the talent to rain fire through April, May, and June, it’s just a matter of talent maximization and execution. Neither has been in question for the last week, and the Mavs’ +18.3 point differential over their last four games (+22.3 over their last three) signifies the seriousness of Dallas’ preparation and play. This team is ready to roll.

It certainly didn’t help the Clips’ cause that Baron Davis and Eric Gordon missed the game along with the long-sidelined Blake Griffin. The former are starters for a reason, with Baron acting as resident superstar (though he hardly performed at that level this season) and Gordon a solid supplemental scorer. Instead, the Mavs faced off against the delightfully average stylings of Steve Blake (who actually had a decent night with nine points, 13 assists, and three turnovers), and the useful but wonderfully limited Rasual Butler (10 points, 4-15 FG, three rebounds, three assists). Mavs-Clippers isn’t a particularly fair match-up even when L.A. is functioning at full strength (sans Griffin), but to deny the Clips two of their more productive players while playing against a would-be contender honing in on the playoffs is just cruel.

Dirk Nowitzki (25 points, 9-13 FG, 3-3 3FG, eight rebounds, three assists) was almost mythical in his level of efficiency; his points nearly doubled his shot attempts (13), he scored more than a point a minute (1.11 ppm if we’re being precise), and he finished with just one turnover. Even more impressive was that only one of his nine made field goals (and of his 13 attempts, for that matter) came within fifteen feet of the basket: a converted layup at the 4:09 mark in the first quarter. Come one, come all, to the Dirkus Circus, the greatest show on Earth.

Shawn Marion (21 points, 9-12 FG) returned after three games on the sideline, and his strained oblique didn’t hinder him in the slightest. Marion’s ability to run the break was a big reason why the Mavs were able to sprint out to a lead almost immediately, and the Clips were never quite able to recover from the sucker punch of the opening minutes. It’s tough to properly gauge Marion’s defensive ability in a game like this one, but his movement on the whole didn’t seem slow or hesitant.

It’s easy to like where the Mavs are right now, and Wednesday’s game against the Spurs should at the very least provide an interesting test. Should Dallas win against San Antonio, the two teams would be locked into their respective positions and would meet in the first round. That should create a pretty odd dynamic for Wednesday night, in which Gregg Popovich, ever the gamesman, could conceivably choose to rest his veterans in an attempt to fold to the Mavs (San Antonio would likely find Dallas to be a better match-up than Utah). Even if Pop chooses to play Duncan, Ginobili, Parker, and co., both teams would be trying to win the game without tipping their hand too far; the truly effective stratagems would need to be saved for the playoff series, which could leave the Mavs’ final regular season game as a battle of sheer talent and will rather than the precise execution of a more complicated game plan.

Closing thoughts:

  • DeShawn Stevenson could very well have earned a playoff role after his performance in the last few games. His defense against opposing scorers (O.J. Mayo, Tyreke Evans) has been commendable, and last night he balanced his defensive success by looking damn good on his jump shot (11 points, 4-7 FG, 3-4 3FG). Marion will still be the Mavs’ go-to defender for tougher perimeter threats, but having another solid wing defender coming off the bench is quite a luxury. If Stevenson works out as a decent 2-guard alternative, the Mavs would have an absolute glut of talent and versatility at the position, with Caron Butler, Jason Terry, Stevenson, and Rodrigue Beaubois all capable of producing at the off-guard.
  • The Mavs had 37 assists on 45 made field goals, with 22 of those assists coming into the first half. The ball movement was crisp on the break but equally impressive in the half-court, where the Mavs’ point guard trio of Jason Kidd (12 points, 12 assists, four turnovers), J.J. Barea (two points, seven assists, zero turnovers), and Rodrigue Beaubois (11 points, five assists, six rebounds, zero turnovers) easily established the momentum to break the struggling Clippers.
  • Also worth noting: the Mavs interior passing was rather terrific. L.A. ranks third in the league in blocks per game, and the Dallas bigs turned that strength into a weakness. With a slight hesitation and a well-timed pass, the Clips’ help defenders were soaring into the air to block nonexistent shots while various Mavericks exploited the soft underbelly of the Clipper defense. Erick Dampier and Brendan Haywood finished with three assists apiece.
  • Rodrigue Beaubois filled in for Caron Butler (strained hip flexor, mostly a precautionary rest) in the starting lineup and had an excellent game. He connected with Kidd on his trademark alley-oop and by the end of the first quarter, Beaubois already had nine points (4-5 FG), four assists, three rebounds, and two steals.
  • Minutes distribution: Dirk – 23, Kidd – 29, Marion – 26, Terry – 21. Love it.
  • DeAndre Jordan (10 points, 13 rebounds) finished with a nice stat line, but the bulk of that production came after the game had already been decided. That doesn’t discount everything he able to accomplish, but it certainly hurts his case that his most effective stretches came against the Mavs’ reserves or after Dallas was already in cruise control. He also looked pretty lost defensively against Dirk Nowitzki, though he can hardly be blamed for that; Dirk isn’t a typical match-up for Jordan, and Nowitzki is a tough cover for even the most accomplished defenders in the league. I’m still very high on DeAndre, though, and I’m very anxious to see what kind of player he’ll become in five years. He and Blake Griffin have the talent to make up a pretty special PF-C tandem.
  • via @mavstats: “#Mavs finish with 27 road wins, most in NBA this season and tied for 3rd most in team history”
  • Six points for Matt Carroll! Boomshakalaka!
  • Programming note: I’m not sure why I stopped offering game-by-game four factors data, but those tables will be included in the recaps just as they were earlier in the season. Enjoy.

Dallas Mavericks 93, Los Angeles Clippers 84

Posted by Rob Mahoney on November 1, 2009 under Recaps | 4 Comments to Read

Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images.

Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOr
LA Lakers89.446.718.718.622.3

Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time.
-Arnold H. Glasgow

The Mavs’ second straight win was an exercise in call and response. The Clippers actually managed impressive stretches in every quarter, powered primarily by the brilliance of Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon, and, oddly enough, Sebastian Telfair. But each Clipper run was countered by a timely and even more impressive Maverick run. Dallas played with the poise and composure of a playoff team, and unlike the 2008-’09 Mavs, this group didn’t allow a little adversity to transform into the business end of a blowout.

Take a walk with me:

  • The Clippers were down 5-8 at the 8:51 mark of the first quarter, and the Mavs looked to be establishing a little bit of offensive momentum. But as the Clips’ defensive intensity increased, the Mavs’ offense came to a steady crawl behind a slew of missed jumpers. Chris Kaman responded with a few jumpers of his own (though of the made variety), and Gordon and Davis each contributed a bucket apiece during an 11-2 Clipper run. Rick Carlisle immediately called a timeout. Though the effects of that timeout weren’t immediately apparent, the Mavs responded to Carlisle’s strategery by rattling off eight straight points through a Marion nine-footer, a Damp layup, and four free throws. L.A. clearly had the Big Mo on their side, but a well-timed Carlisle timeout keyed a great defensive run (the results of the Clips’ offensive possessions: shot clock violation, missed layup, offensive foul, missed jumper, missed shot, missed jumper, turnover) and a more assertive offense.
  • The Clippers were down 32-38 at the 6:20 mark of the second quarter, and the Mavs looked to be establishing a little bit of offensive momentum. DeAndre Jordan tagged in Marcus Camby who gave L.A. some life with six points and an assist during a 12-2 Clipper run. That was enough to give the Clips a 44-40 advantage, which is beyond close and starting to get uncomfortable. But just in time, the Mavs’ somewhat stagnant offense came alive with some excellent ball movement, and a late 9-2 Mavs run kept things from getting out of control. Over that stretch, the Mavs made four field goals: three were assisted, two were layups, one was a Shawn Marion slam. Easy buckets are a beautiful thing.
  • The Clippers were up 59-57 at the 7:41 mark of the third quarter, and they were still rolling from a late second quarter surge that brought the game within striking distance. Then, not unlike the win a night ago, the Mavs absolutely took over the third quarter. Every Maverick on the floor (Kidd, Terry, Marion, Dirk, Damp) scored in a complete team effort, and the result was a beautiful 17-3 run that would eventually decide the game. The Mavs were not very good offensively in the fourth, but they were able to edge out a victory based on the successes of this run.
  • The Clippers were down 71-80 at the 10:47 mark of the fourth quarter, and the Mavs appeared to have the game in tow. Sebastian Telfair had other plans, as he was responsible for nine points in a critical 11-2 Clipper run that brought the game to an even 82-all. Both offenses lacked rhythm and coordination, but the Mavs were able to score some easy points with buckets around the rim, and then relied on the heavy lifters to supply a dagger or two. The result was a sloppy but effective 11-3 closeout, locking up the game for good and throwing away the key.

Nowitzki (24 points on 9-19 FG, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and an uncharacteristic 5 turnovers) looked to be much more comfortable shooting the ball, even if his overall line was a different shade of Dirk. It’s surely worth noting, though, that the Clippers’ bigs are far less equipped to defend Dirk than that of the Lakers or even the Wizards. But it’s about the baby steps, and Dirk showed a bit more of his usual shooting touch to accompany his forays into the paint and trips to the free throw line.

Shawn Marion and Erick Dampier were the Mavs’ finishers, and they performed excellently. Some lobs and interior feeds still reeked of a feeling out process, but Dallas showed a sudden willingness to toss lobs in the direction of Erick Dampier off of the pick and roll. The Kidd-Dampier combo could be a fun new weapon in the half-court game, as Damp made the Clippers pay for not respecting his rolls to the basket. Shawn Marion finished well on the move in all kinds of situations, even if L.A.’s bigs were ready to combat him at the rim. The result wasn’t always a dunk or even a make, but I already admire Marion’s aggressive movement off the ball and refusal to surrender opportunities to shot blockers. Shawn’s shot was packed a few times as a result, but his activity around the basket on both ends helped him total 16 points and 11 rebounds to go with a steal and two blocks.

Kidd, JET, and Barea did an excellent job of finding the right guys at the right times, and they were the only reason why the offense was in gear for key stretches. Kidd finished with 10 assists, JET with 6, and Barea with 4, which isn’t too shabby for a three guard rotation.

Still, the bizarre offense could give some a reason for worry. The Mavs managed just 13 points in a messy fourth quarter, and if their opponent had been anyone other than the equally messy Clippers, that could have been a problem. The Mavs came out with a win thanks to their ability to respond when it counted, but it’d be nice to nurse a cozy lead rather than jump into a slug fest.

Of course the defense played a huge role in making the Clippers falter, a fact which shouldn’t go unrecognized. The Mavs played good D inside and out, and though their performance wasn’t flawless, it was impressive nonetheless.

Closing thoughts:

  • Even though you wouldn’t know if it from the box score, Baron Davis (9 points on 4-10 FG, 6 assists, 4 turnovers) can still wreck havoc against the Mavs’ defense.
  • The Clippers roared back into the game at the end of the second quarter, but their four point lead was quickly erased in the closing seconds when Sebastian Telfair fouled Jason Terry while shooting a 3-pointer. Telfair objected, and was rewarded for what I’m sure was a perfectly cordial objection with a technical foul. Four made free throws later, both teams walked into the locker room with a tie.
  • Drew Gooden missed the game with a strained rib muscle on his right side. Kris Humphries played effectively in his absence, even if Kaman managed to bully him inside for points.
  • JET was twice called for an offensive foul for pushing off with his off-hand while driving in for a layup.
  • J.J. Barea seems to be a much improved jumpshooter, which is a beautiful thing for a guy who already had touch and range.

GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT: The Gold Star of the Night, in a bit of a curveball, goes to Erick Dampier. Damp (12 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, 0 turnovers) protected the rim, rebounded well, and turned himself into a bonafide offensive contributor with his ability to find dimples in the Clips’ defensive coverage and abuse the pick and roll.

Rumor Mongering: Baron Davis, the Cap Space Killa

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 16, 2009 under Rumors | 4 Comments to Read

From the New York Daily News:

The Mavs recently rejected a deal that would have sent them the Clippers’ Baron Davis. Looking to move Davis, who they signed last summer to a free-agent contract in excess of $60 million, the Clippers wanted Jason Kidd in return. But Dallas doesn’t want to move the former Net, whose contract comes off the books in July.

I’ve tackled these trade rumors once or twice on a more informal basis, but I wanted to get this on the record.  This deal doesn’t make much sense.  It puts 2007′s public enemy #1 in a Mavs uni and completely destroys any plans for future cap flexibility.  Chris Kaman is a good player, but his contract isn’t Mav-friendly either and his medical history reads longer than his resume.  Meanwhile, Kidd can be re-signed on the cheap for a one-year deal and help maximize the Mavs’ potential assets going forward.

Y’know, if Baron Davis were insanely, off-the-charts talented, I might be able to see my way around this one.  But he isn’t getting any younger, and aging, supposedly disgruntled, oft-injured point guards with lengthy contracts that could make Scrooge McDuck fantasies come true aren’t exactly my cup of tea.  Capiche?

Heard It Through the Grapevine 2-12-09

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 12, 2009 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

  • Baron Davis and Chris Kaman to the Mavs for Jason Kidd is the hot trade rumor of the moment, and while I understand the intrigue on a very basic level, I have a hard time believing it would be anything but a trade for trade’s sake or one of those ‘trying to get with that girl you never beat in a seven game series’ things.  Dwyane Wade is one thing, but some people should be careful what they wish for if they’re lusting for Baron in a Maverick uni.  It doesn’t make sense on the court, and leaves a bad taste in your mouth off it.  Tim MacMahon tackles the more practical side of the trade on the DMN Mavs Blog: “It’d be worth sacrificing financial flexibility to make a trade that would transform the Mavs into a serious contender. But it’s unlikely that adding Davis and Kaman and subtracting Kidd would make the Mavs better at all. You can’t count on Kaman making a contribution this season. He’s only played 15 games for the Clippers because of a foot injury. When a 7-footer has a serious foot injury, that’s a banner-sized red flag. (The Mavs might think for a second before saying no if Marcus Camby was part of the proposal instead of Kaman. Camby has a contract that is up at the end of next season and averaging 11.6 ppg, 12.7 rpg and 2.37 bpg. They still wouldn’t pull the trigger, but they wouldn’t snicker after hanging up the phone.)”
  • Some good stuff from Mavs Moneyball’s Wes Cox and other voices from around the Southwest Division on this roundtable from the New Orleans Hornets official website.
  •’s Mike Fisher has a nice Q&A with Mark Cuban.  Cuban’s evaluation on the Mavs: “‘Right now our biggest problem as a team, outside of injuries, is when we miss a shot, we pout. We don’t stay focused. That’s part of the reason Rick (Carlisle, Mavs coach) turned the (play-calling) reins over to J-Kidd. We have to stay focused.’”  Cuban also discusses the possibility of 2010 and the new Collective Bargaining Agreement creating a ‘nuclear winter,’ how he would still trade Harris for Kidd ’100 times out of 100,’ and more.
  • Jerry Stackhouse won’t be available until after the All-Star break.  Available to play, I mean.
  • Something interesting: in the Mavs model of the Celtics “big three”, Kidd isn’t one of the three.  He’s apparently more of a Rajon Rondo.  From Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: “”Our biggest challenge has been health,’ Carlisle says. ‘Josh’s situation early in the year derailed us from getting in a great rhythm offensively in late November and December. And we’ve had to adjust again [with Terry's injured left hand]…But coming in, we projected that those three guys would play exceptionally well and Kidd would be our key facilitator. This is the way we’d like it to keep going when everybody gets healthy.’”
  • Matt Carroll’s favorite movie is Rocky IV.  When people say that, I can never tell if they’re accounting for the unintentional comedy or just overlooking it.
  • Eddie Sefko is ready to nix all the trade talk and fight onward, Maverick soldiers.  From the Dallas Morning News: Which brings us to our next proclamation: “The Mavericks absolutely should not make any major trade before next week’s deadline. Why? Because they finally have some semblance of a groove and, after their splashy trade of a year ago, it’s taken this long for players to find a comfort zone with each other. Make another big deal, and that process starts all over again and you probably waste another year.”

No Game Is an Island: Folks Say This Place Is Haunted

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 28, 2009 under Previews | 4 Comments to Read

The Golden State Warriors visit the Dallas Mavericks
8:00 CST

Just in time for your post-Boston Massacre chronic depression, the powers that be just so happened to schedule a nationally televised game against Golden State followed by a weekend game against Miami.  Call it “The Ghosts of Playoffs Past” week.  Why don’t we just invite New Orleans and make an event of it?

I really do like watching this year’s Warriors play, and no, I don’t feel like a traitor for saying that.  Baron Davis was the engine that made this outfit go, and the idea of them running without him is just too delightfully contrarian for a guy like me to not appreciate.  I always did love “Helter Skelter.”  Or maybe I was looking for a reason to like them all along, but Baron was too much “the face of the enemy” for my senses to overcome.  I also have yet to watch Monta Ellis since his return to action last week, and I’m anxious to see if his future as a “real point guard” is as nebulous as it seems.

The thing about being part of a playoff series that made history is that no one will ever let you forget it.  Since Warriors over Mavs was the first and only time an eighth seed has beaten a first seed in a seven game series, the event has attached itself as an epithet to the two most relevant players.  Dirk Nowitzki will forever be “Dirk Nowitzki, the leader of that Mavs team that blew it against the Warriors,” and Baron Davis will forever be “Baron Davis, the noble leader and people’s champ who defeated Goliath.”  Baron was definitely the talent of that team, and on the court he turned the Warriors into a swag machine that could do no wrong against Dallas.  But while Baron was wearing bullet fedoras and giving a grassroots movement a face (and a beard), Stephen Jackson was, for lack of a better term, the heart of the team.  Do I find Jackson more pallatable because I’ve identified him as a Spur/Champion and a Pacer-turned-brawler?  Or similarly, because while Baron Davis’ contributions with the Hornets were largely shadowed by doubt and injury, his renaissance with the Warriors was the defining moment of his career?  Could be.  But the fact remains that although the Warriors’ best player bolted for the Clippers this summer, the heart and soul of “We Believe” is still very much in Oakland.

This game will be marketed as an exorcism of demons, and to an extent that’s true; there’s always something cathartic about beating Golden State since The Fall, and the Mavs have plenty of new, internal demons they have yet to conquer.  The fact that Jackson, and Monta, and Nellie are all still staring down the Mavs from across the court is meaningless aside from the fact that this is a team that the Dallas Mavericks are going to engage in a basketball game against, and that they desperately need to win this game to save themselves from themselves.  I know the purpose of No Game Is an Island is to provide significance through context, but this is one situation that should truly be viewed in a vacuum.  Golden State at Dallas.  No asterisk.  No footnote.  Just a dangerous offensive team coming to American Airlines Center, and hopefully a Mavs team ready to respond.