The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 81, Los Angeles Lakers 101

Posted by Connor Huchton on April 3, 2013 under Recaps | 3 Comments to Read

Sunrise

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.

  • The Mavericks’ season, for all playoffs-related purposes, ended on Tuesday night, and now we’re left to consider what this lukewarm, odd journey meant.
  • As a Dirk Nowitzki three-pointer failed to reach its intended destination late in the fourth quarter, I realized it would fall to me to essentially eulogize a tumultuous season of Mavericks’ basketball.
  • I thought about O.J. Mayo in the fall, Shawn Marion in the winter, and Dirk Nowitzki in the spring. I thought about the guarded hope of Brandan Wright’s line-drive hook shot, and I thought about the eager play of Bernard James. I thought about the managerial sense of Mike James, and the ever-hopeful exuberance of a Darren Collison drive. I thought about Vince Carter’s return to respect and the journey he and all of us are on, and I thought about the stoic stare of Elton Brand. I thought about all of this, and I sighed and considered all the different reasons that this sum of hope would now amount to nothing in a competitive sense. But a season is not nothing, no matter the result. It’s an emotional journey for those who (perhaps foolishly) choose to invest in its path. That path will lead longtime Mavericks’ fan somewhere unexpected this year – to a place apart from the playoffs. But disappointment does not erase the uniqueness of the journey, and another season and another path awaits in the not-so-distant future.
  • What I will write about tonight is the summation of a grimly typical occurence  - a harsh regression to realistic shooting performances, and a firm departure from the exalted three-point bubble  of glory that’s gracefully covered all of this team’s faults for the last month or so.
  • “In other words: If the jumpers stop falling, the Mavs could be in trouble.”
  • Zach Lowe wrote that sentence less than a week ago, and it’s prescience quickly came to fruition.
  • The Mavericks’ reliance on mid-range success was perhaps the most tenuous aspect of the team’s recent form, and tonight the team failed in that area entirely.
  • The only Maverick who succeeded regularly on offense was Chris Kaman (7-10 FG, 14 points, six rebounds), who turned in one of his better performances of the season.
  • Dirk has always defied defensive hopes with his dominance of the left-sided mid-range game, but that defiance counted for little against a hard-charging Lakers’ defense.
  • He shot and missed all four of his shots from 10-23 feet in that left region, and misses like these always ring loudly with foreboding for even the greatest of mid-range shooters.
  • And like so many nights this season, any hope for a defensive save collapsed after an especially rough second quarter.
  • Earl Clark (7-14 FG, 17 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks), once widely considered a draft bust and NBA failure, played a far more complete and Maverick-destructive game than anyone once would have guessed possible not long ago.
  • But it did happen, as Clark scored from any region possible and defended Dirk with all the aplomb of a young James Worthy.
  • Even more decimating was the play of one Kobe Bryant (8-18 FG, 23 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists).
  • In the absence of Steve Nash, Bryant and the other Laker guards found Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard (10-20 FT) in the post all night, to the tune of a combined 38 points on 25 field goals (and 22 rebounds) from the pair.
  • I’d guess this kind of complete performance is what the overbearing contingency of Lakers’ fans always imagined when this team was first constructed – solid post play, tough interior defense, and a confident Kobe controlling tempo from the perimeter.
  • But such a performance couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Mavericks, who simply appeared unable to generate a significant counter to the Lakers’ play.
  • The cornerstones of these Mavericks, mid-range and three-point shooting, dissipated with the rapidity of a changing wind, and an inability to capitalize at the rim (6-12 FT) closed the door definitively on any sort of courageous final comeback.
  • I have no doubt that the Mavericks, not yet mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, will go on fighting with the heart of a battling, worn down champion, as they have all season. This team does not lack for heart – it simply lacks for well-fitting parts.
  • Along with all the pain and struggle of an uneven season, the 2012-2013 Mavericks heaved forward, one three-pointer at a time, until the proverbial well ran dry and there was nothing left to do but keep fighting against a dooming reality. Playoffs may go, but beards are forever.

Wright here, Wright now

Posted by David Hopkins on April 2, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

wright-hopkins

“Greetings, men of Earth, I have been awaiting you.” — Galactus, Devourer of Worlds

Let’s start with a philosophical question: What’s the most important position on the court? Like all philosophical questions, it’s more of a thought experiment than something to directly answer—similar to “if a tree falls in a forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” Obviously, in regards to the “most important position,” the answer is that it depends. It depends on the players the team has, the type of offense and defense the team runs, and the opponents they face. The discussion is more significant than the conclusion, because it reveals fundamental thoughts on how basketball operates as a team sport. I would suggest that the debate narrows down to the positions of point guard and center. The point guard is often the “floor general,” the person who controls the ball up the court, and sets the offense. The point guard has his hands on the ball, facilitating, more than any other player. The center is closest to the basket. In theory, he has the high percentage shot. He is also the defensive anchor, the last resistance for anyone driving to the basket. His very presence can alter the offense’s decision on whether or not to dare any closer to the rim.

This season for the Mavs, the point guard and center positions have been the most inconsistent and continually in flux.

At point guard, the departure of Jason Kidd may have hurt the Mavs more than they are willing to admit. Then there was the mysterious departure of Delonte West. Darren Collison hasn’t been able to make his case as the starting point guard or even deserving more minutes when coming off the bench. He has had moments of offensive production. But for someone so fast, he hasn’t been able to move particular well—especially on defense. I shudder every time I see Collison attempt a full-court press against another point guard. As he backpedals, playing his opponent close, I can count down the seconds, 5… 4… 3… 2… until a foul is called against Collison. To fill in the gaps of Collison’s gaffs, the Mavs have used Derek Fischer, Dominique Jones, Rodrigue Beaubois, and finally settled on Mike James. James, while not a perfect or even long-term fix, has surpassed expectations. Collison may eventually grow into his role as a starting point guard, but I’ll leave that discussion for another time.

At center, the Mavs have four players all vying for the same spot: Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, Bernard James, and Brandan Wright. Each of them have, at times, disappointed. Bernard James, although older than Brandan Wright, is a rookie. He’s the only one who gets a pass. Anything James can produce this season is a boon for the team. However, Brand, Kaman, and Wright are all free agents next season, and they need to be evaluated with more scrutiny.

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Fourth Round of Bloom and Doom

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

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It’s time for another round of Bloom and Doom.

In an effort to keep the discussion going, I sought out ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon for his opinion on pressing issues for the Dallas Mavericks. You can view MacMahon’s coverage of the Mavericks at ESPNDallas.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @espn_macmahon. Periodically, we have touched base and discussed topics with our own unique point of view. It’s been a while, so it was necessary for us to reconnect and agree and disagree on a few subjects.

MacMahon likes to call it like he sees it. That perspective can hover on the other end of the spectrum from my optimistic viewpoint on things. You could say it’s a classic case of good cop, bad cop. Our different perspectives should make for an interesting conversation on hot topics revolving around the Mavs.

This round of bloom and doom analyzes if Rick Carlisle is having the coaching performance of his career, which 2011 departure would fit best this year and other topics.

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Pairings and Parables

Posted by Ian Levy on March 29, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

And I would even settle for a twin cousin...

Several weeks ago I put together a post highlighting the incredible amount of turnover on the Mavericks’ roster and rotation this season, and looking specifically at the effectiveness of different player pairs. At that point, 19 different players had dressed in a Mavericks uniform during the 2012-2013 season, not including Delonte West who was released just before the regular season started. That number has now climbed to 21, despite the team’s slow march towards 0.500 and a potential playoff berth. The larger pieces of the rotation finally seemed to have fallen into place, which means Rick Carlisle can return to tinkering around the edges. Plenty of elements have been difficult to watch this season, but among the most challenging for me has been the trial-and-error…and error method Carlisle has needed to piece together the limited specialists on this roster into a consistently reliable attack. We’ve never seen so much of the error portion of his process in years past, and Carlisle’s previously masterful performance in managing rotations have raised expectations to obscene levels. As Dirk Nowitzki has returned to form and all the new parts have become more secure in understanding how they fit around him, the tumult has eased. It’s an incredible relief to feel that identifying useful player combinations is no longer such a daily battle.

Obviously, I’m still hung up on these player combinations, so I decided to take another look, again using a Tableau Visualization. The chart below shows each different player combination the Mavericks have used this season graphed by their minutes played. I divided the season into six-game segments so each mark displays the numbers for just the previous six games. The color of each line represents the effectiveness of the unit, as expressed by Net Rating; red is good, green is bad. You can use the search filter at the bottom to focus in on any pairing that strikes your fancy.

The overall graph, displaying every combination is an overwhelming amount of information. But in looking at the hornet’s nest as a whole, a few things should pop out. The first is how inconsistent the use of different pairings has been. Injuries have shuffled the cards at different points during the season, but the jagged peaks and valleys adorning most of those lines emphasize what a shifting surface the Mavericks’ rotation has been. The second point is how inconsistent performance has been. Six games is not a huge sample slice by which to be measuring these groups, but most of the pairs, especially those at the top, have been rocketing back and forth between terrific and terrible.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 113, Utah Jazz 108

Posted by Connor Huchton on March 25, 2013 under Recaps | Be the First to 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.

  • Despite the relentless turmoil and mediocrity that preceded the break, the post All-Star Mavericks inspire belief. They contain a transcendent star, several valuable wing players, and an eccentric (but effective enough) center rotation. They’ve won 11 of 18 games against a somewhat difficult schedule, and rarely seemed daunted by their opponent – notwithstanding an awful blowout loss to Houston on March 3rd, every game has been at least competitive. The current Dallas’ squad does not necessarily proclaim greatness, but it does provide an undeniably strong case as being quite good. With a win tonight against the faltering Jazz, it’s becoming increasingly possible to believe in a Mavericks’ playoff berth, and whatever unlikely glory might come with it.
  • Tonight’s bizarre/typical iteration of ,”Who is the most effective Mavericks’ center?”, is a prime example of the simultaneous versatility and uncertainty the Mavericks face at the position on a game-by-game basis. Brandan Wright (3-11 FG, seven points, four points), the team’s best center of late, struggled as the contest began and progressed, and so Elton Brand (5-5 FG, 10 points, five rebounds) returned to the rotation after a game-long absence and provided a much needed offensive and defensive spark. Chris Kaman (2-3 FG, four points) made a curt, eight-minute appearance that brimmed with moderate effectiveness. Tonight, Elton Brand was the Mavericks’ best ‘center’ (an arbitrary term typically used to describe any Mavs’ frontcourt player not named Dirk Nowitzki), but next game, that title could easily shift.
  • I’ve really enjoyed the way O.J. Mayo (4-7 FG, 2-3 3PT, 10 points) has adjusted his game upon Dirk’s (7-13 FG, 2-4 3PT, 17 points, six rebounds) return to offensive dominance. Since the All-Star break, Mayo is attempting about three field goal attempts less per game (and averaging one less turnover per game), and it’s helped aid a slight return to form for him. Mayo’s still scoring about 10-15 points nearly every night at a reduced usage, but he’s doing so as a secondary, efficient option in flux within the ebbs and flows of Dirk’s nightly performances. When the Mavericks need Mayo to score and deliver, he’s done so, but he’s also managed to adjust and recede his game in a renewed, potent offense.
  • Despite the misleading allowance of 108 points, this was one of the better defensive games of the 2012-2013 Mavericks’ recent history. The Jazz scored 28 points in the final 5:26 after the game had reached a seemingly finished stage, but before that mental (and almost costly) lapse, the Mavericks had limited the Jazz’s interior presence nicely. The Jazz starting frontcourt typically scores willfully and appears at first glance to pose a significant matchup problem for the Mavericks’ nebulous range of post defenders, but Brand and company did a very good job of limiting Jefferson and Millsap to a quiet total of 30 combined points.
  • I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the stellar night of somewhat maligned veteran guard Mike James (7-10 FG, 3-4 3PT, 19 points, five assists). On his best nights, James is a dangerous spot-up three-point shooter and a capable distributor, and tonight was surely one of those nights. As a parting note, I believe this is the highest I’ve ever seen Chris Kaman jump, and thus, Marvin Williams (1-6, 2 points) fittingly missed his dunk.

Quoteboard: Dallas Mavericks 104, Boston Celtics 94

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on March 23, 2013 under Interviews | 3 Comments to Read

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The Dallas Mavericks were able to get a much-needed win over the Boston Celtics. A 104-94 victory over the Celtics ruined Jason Terry’s return to Dallas. The Mavericks never trailed against the Celtics on Friday (scored was tied four times). It marked the second time this season that Dallas recorded a victory without trailing at any point (also Jan. 14 vs. Minnesota). In the Mavericks’ 113-98 win over the Timberwolves, Dallas never trailed but the score was tied once (at 2-2).

Brandan Wright made his 13th start of the season (44th career) against the Celtics on Friday. In his 100th game with the Mavericks, Wright tallied a season and game-high 23 points to go along with a season-high-tying eight rebounds in 30 minutes. His previous high scoring game this season was a 16-point effort at Phoenix on 12/6. Shawn Marion returned to the starting lineup against the Celtics on Friday, after missing the previous eight games due to a left calf strain. Marion posted his 13th double-double of the season (417th career) with 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds in 31 minutes. Marion pulled down 10 of Dallas’ 26 rebounds in the opening half.

Dirk Nowitzki totaled 22 points and seven rebounds in 32 minutes against the Celtics. He scored 20-plus points for the fourth in his last six games (13th time this season). Nowitzki is averaging 19.4 points and 8.4 rebounds over his last seven games. He is shooting 54.3 percent (50-of-92) from the floor and 50 percent (11-of-22)  from deep in that span.

Some notes before the quotes:

- Wright’s 23 points marked the second-highest scoring game of his career (25 points vs. Philadelphia Mar. 20, 2009). It was also just the second 20-point game of his career and his highest scoring game as a Maverick (was 17 vs. Golden State Apr. 20, 2012). Wright pulled down eight rebounds for the fourth time in his last seven games (seventh time this season). He is averaging 12.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 24.3 minutes over his last 11 games. Wright is shooting 63.3 percent (62-of-98) from the field in that span.

- The game against Boston marked the first time since Mar. 12, 2008 vs. New York that Shawn recorded 10-plus boards in the first half of a game (10 rebounds). It was also the first time he totaled 10-plus boards in any half since Apr. 10, 2012 vs. Sacramento (10 boards).

- In his return to Dallas, Jason Terry scored eight points on 3-of-9 shooting with three turnovers over 21:57. He was minus-6 overall.

- The Mavericks announced after the game that they would not sign guard Chris Wright to another 10-day contract, ending his time with Dallas.

Here is the quoteboard for Dallas’ win over Boston.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 104, Boston Celtics 94

Posted by Kirk Henderson on March 22, 2013 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Clover

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.

  • This could easily be called “The Brandan Wright Game” (23 points on 11 for 16 shooting, eight rebounds). Though his best offensive game as a Maverick was exciting to watch, I remain impressed by his growth as a help defender and rebounder. Early in the season he would challenge anything within 15 feet of the bucket, often leaving his man for the offensive rebound. Wright’s much more selective in his challenges as of late, and it has helped improved the Maverick’s rebounding ability. His on ball defense has improved as well. In the fourth quarter, Wright made a brilliant strip/steal of Jeff Green on a fast break attempt that he passed to Darren Collison as he was falling out of bounds. Collison drove the length of the floor for a pull up jumper. That strip/steal is not a play Brandan Wright makes at the start of the season.
  • Considering how hard I’ve been on the shot selection of Mike James this year, I feel it’s important to note that this may have been his best game as a facilitator of the offense. Though he recorded only six assists (and one turnover) in his 25 minutes, he drove the lane looking to pass instead of shoot and many Mavericks, particularly Vince Carter, couldn’t seem to convert the nice set ups provided by James. Hopefully, the pass-first Mike James is here to stay for the remainder of the season.
  • Though Coach Rick Carlisle downplayed Dirk Nowitzki’s small number of shot attempts over the last three games, the Dallas announcers made it a point of discussion throughout the first half. Though it’s good that something as basic as shots doesn’t become an issue in the locker room, the Maverick players seemed to respond to the rumblings, looking to actually get their best player the ball. Dirk had 11 field goal attempts in the first half and finished with 22 points and seven rebounds.
  • The Vince Carter circus was in full effect against the Celtics, as he took and made a few shots that only a player of his talent can make. Arguably, his best play was a miss in the fourth quarter. Carter drove from the right side, faded towards the middle of the lane and in an attempt to draw contact he threw the ball up on the rim. It took a number of bounces and came off the left side of the rim. None of the Celtics bothered to box Brandan Wright out, who swooped in from the left side of the base line, caught the ball as it was coming down and emphatically dunked the ball as three Boston defenders looked on in frustration.
  • Though it feels silly to point this out every time it happens, some instances are so egregious they must be discussed. On the final Maverick possession of the third quarter, Darren Collison and Dirk ran a high screen and roll with Collison driving left. Collison stopped just past the elbow for a great shot fake, which got his man up in the air and pulled Dirk’s man in his direction. At this point, Dirk was at the top of the key with no one within five feet of him. Collison has to see him and pass him the ball. Instead, he missed a long jumper. That play is why Darren Collison will not be a starting point guard in the NBA. You have to know where your best player is and what his strengths are at all times.
  • In July of 2009 I remember being thrilled at the signing of Shawn Marion (the best free agent signing of the Dirk Nowitzki era). I also remember thinking that there was no way he’d be effective or worth his salary by 2013-2014. Now? Outside of Dirk’s he is the second most important Maverick. Against the Celtics, he put up 11 points and 13 rebounds, five of them offensive. Dallas went 5-3 in his absence, yet one can reasonably wonder how his presence would have changed the two close losses to the Spurs and Thunder. Is he worth $10 million next season? I’m glad I don’t have to assign a monetary value to his contributions because they’ve been nearly priceless the last four years.
  • Watching Avery Bradley play man to man defense is incredible. I’d like to think that every basketball player can be taught to play defense in this fashion but the truth is what Bradley does is a gift. Watching his feet and the angles he takes on ball handlers, it’s clear Bradley is operating on a different defensive plane.
  • Marion’s return meant at least one Maverick would be seeing less floor time. That ended up being Jae Crowder, who had played admirable basketball over the last eight games. That said, Crowder would be best served by being locked in a room all summer with game tape of Shawn Marion and early career Josh Howard. Crowder is an athletic specimen who is also pretty good at basketball. Unfortunately, he doesn’t use his athletic gifts near enough on the offensive end, often content to stand and shoot. Shawn Marion’s simple baseline cut and dunk off of a Mike James pass in the first quarter is a prime example of a basic basketball play that Crowder could make if he learned to better move without the basketball.
  • On Thursday, Andy Tobolowsky at Mavs Moneyball wroteAAC welcomes home one of its best, one of its brightest. The hero, the personality. The only guy who never knew, no matter the circumstances, that the game, the Mavericks, the dream of a ring were over years ago. Jason Terry, the only one of us who turned out to be right.” As the season has marched on, one thing that’s occasionally missing from the Mavericks seems to be confidence. Too often, Dallas tightens up when the game gets close late. Terry gave the Mavericks, and all of us, the belief that they could and would come through in any situation.
  • Elton Brand received his first “Did Not Play – Coach’s Decision” of the season against the Celtics. As TMG’s own Bryan Gutierrez notes, Carlisle is not above sending a message to his players, as he’s done time and again with literally the entire team. Brand’s had a rough go as of late, and this is hopefully just Carlisle’s way of letting Brand know he demands more. Expect Brand to respond well the next time he gets an opportunity.

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 21

Posted by Travis Wimberly on March 21, 2013 under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment

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

You wouldn’t know it from the game results (L, W, L, W, L), but the Mavs played at a fairly consistent level for the entire week (at least until the fourth quarter of the final game against Brooklyn). After being wildly inconsistent for most the season, the Mavs seem to have finally leveled out and settled into a groove.

So, if the Mavs were so consistent, why 2-3? Why alternating wins and losses? Well, that’s just the thing — the Mavs’ “consistent” level of play sits pretty much right in the middle of the league. Their season-long ceiling (as opposed to their single-game ceiling, which is largely a function of variance) sits right around the 50th percentile. By playing consistently over several games, then, the Mavs make it very easy to see exactly where they sit in the league pecking order. They’ll beat bad teams regularly (Cleveland); they’ll beat decent teams sometimes (Atlanta); they’ll lose to decent teams sometimes (Brooklyn); and they’ll lose to elite teams almost always (San Antonio and Oklahoma City).

Hence, the week that was.

Week 21 (@Spurs, Cavs, Thunder, @Hawks, Nets)

FIRE

1) Brandan Wright

Wright’s offensive game is so fluid and efficient, it’s hard to imagine that he could barely get off the bench earlier in the year. Here’s how Wright’s key numbers shook out this week: 10.4 points per game, 24-of-43 (56%) shooting, 6.2 rebounds per game, and 1.0 blocks per game. It’s much more difficult to quantatively measure individual defense, but I thought Wright showed his continued improvement in that area. He’s got a long way to go, but his footwork in the defensive post has improved since November, and he’s being more judicious with his weakside defense (i.e., not wildly jumping around trying to block every single shot instead of boxing out). Wright earned numerous accolades during college while playing in the highly competitive ACC, and it’s easy to see why. His raw talent is undeniable. With hard work and on-point coaching (and I have no reason to suspect both won’t occur), his ceiling is fairly high.

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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.