The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 104, Minnesota Timberwolves 97

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 11, 2012 under Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas110.094.648.325.619.015.2
Minnesota88.244.339.230.223.2

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

  • Jason Kidd (eight points, 2-3 3FG, 10 assists, two steals, eight turnovers) returned to the lineup on Friday after a six-game absence, and brought plenty of good to overpower the unfortunately-too-familiar bad. Those horribly misguided passes are back with a vengeance; though Kidd looks more energetic and better prepared to play than he was previously, he’s still making the same head-scratching blunders that got him into trouble earlier in the season. Those bafflingly bad passes will have to go, and hopefully without penalty to Kidd’s more sensible playmaking endeavors. Kidd’s identification of mismatches and potential advantages was as impeccable as ever (Read: Jason Kidd stays Jason Kidd), and his work as a help defender was nothing short of spectacular. It’s just a matter of hedging the bad to better accent the good at this point, and hopefully Kidd is just a few weeks away from finding a happier balance.
  • The box score makes this game look like a bit of a scoring duel between Dirk Nowitzki (33 points, 11-19 FG, 4-7 3FG, four rebounds, three assists, three blocks, one turnover) and Kevin Love (32 points, 9-18 FG, 12 rebounds, three assists, five turnovers), but both players were scoring as components of their respective teams’ runs rather than the sole proponents of them. Dallas and Minnesota’s bursts of scoring and defense were fairly balanced overall, and though Nowitzki and Love ended up as the most productive players on the court, this game wasn’t some powerful demonstration of their individual brilliance. It was merely the latest exhibit in the ridiculous effectiveness of both players, stretched over a prolonged period of time, and enhanced by fairly complete — if still relatively inefficient — team efforts. (That said: A season-high 33 points on just 19 shots for Nowitzki? Yes, please.)

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The Difference: Indiana Pacers 98, Dallas Mavericks 87

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 4, 2012 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot Chart — Game Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas92.094.645.815.728.315.3
Indiana106.549.418.434.113.0

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

  • [11:26, 1st] – Brendan Haywood catches an entry pass from Vince Carter in the high post, and awkwardly anchors the offense from the elbow. He doesn’t panic, but does immediately look to get the ball to Dirk Nowitzki, who has been waiting patiently in the right corner. Nowitzki makes the catch on the wing, and immediately moves toward Haywood for the ever unconventional 4-5 pick and roll. He slides around the pick, but there is no roll, and no dribble penetration whatsoever; tucked behind Haywood’s screen, Dirk elevates for a jumper that leaves both David West and Roy Hibbert at arm’s distance. The ball splashes through the net, and drips with confidence.
  • [10:52, 1st] - Carter inbounds the ball to a flaring Rodrigue Beaubois, who looks to initiate the offense from the left wing. So around an impromptu Haywood screen he goes, and upon entering the paint, Beaubois hits a revving Shawn Marion on the opposite side for a driving counter from the right. Three Pacers are drawn to him, choosing to suffocate Marion’s runner rather than stick to their respective assignments. Nowitzki, who had been waiting at the top of the key, is the beneficiary.
  • [8:26, 1st] – The high pick and roll is a staple of virtually every team’s offense, and the Mavs have the luxury of running that play action with a wide variety of player combinations. On this occasion, Carter looks to work to the left side of the floor with Nowitzki acting as the screener. David West hedges early to deflect that action, allowing Paul George plenty of time to recover back onto Carter. However, that pick-and-roll set has effectively functioned as a beautiful guise for a Nowitzki iso; West’s recovery left a perfect window for an uncontested entry pass, allowing Dirk a clean catch and a chance to face up without the threat of a double team. He pivots forward. He measures up West. He stunts and then rises, launching a jumper over West’s vertical extension that seeps through the net.

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The Difference: Oklahoma City Thunder 95, Dallas Mavericks 86

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 2, 2012 under Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-Play – Shot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas100.086.038.129.820.013.6
Oklahoma City95.043.840.730.614.3

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

  • Not many teams on this side of the Orlando Magic have managed to put together the kind of inescapably horrendous shooting performance that sank Dallas on Thursday. The Mavs shot just 8-for-38 in the second half, with the occasional trip to the free throw line providing the only non-JET source of reliable scoring. It would be incredibly convenient if there just one element to blame for Dallas’ offensive implosion — disrupted ball movement, a lack of effort, a mere bad shooting night, or the tilt of a team missing its star. Unfortunately, the best explanation is “all of the above.” This was a true team effort, with every possible variable ganging up on the Mavs for a perfect storm of offensive impotency. (To put things in perspective: Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, and Rodrigue Beaubois combined to shoot 28 percent from the field. Ouch.)
  • A testament to how bad things have become for Nowitzki (eight points, 2-15 FG, eight rebounds): The Thunder aggressively trapped the ball handler on pick-and-rolls involving Dirk. Nowitzki is certainly trying his best to revert back to the player we all know he can be, but the impossible fadeaway jumpers are finally starting to live up to their billing. That bouncing ball has no mercy for Dirk whatsoever, and it simply refuses to cooperate with Nowitzki’s efforts to provide his scoring talents to the Mavs’ championship defense. He’s still making some smart passes, working hard on defense, and clawing for rebounds, but Nowitzki isn’t suited to be a glorified hustle player. This is one of the greatest offensive players the NBA has ever seen, and if anyone out there has any idea how to help him find his way home, I’m sure Mark Cuban and Rick Carlisle would be all ears.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 122, Phoenix Suns 99

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 31, 2012 under Recaps | 3 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas95.0128.463.220.727.89.5
Phoenix104.251.325.017.111.9

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

  • So much of this brilliant offensive outing was built on the strength of the Mavs’ multi-angle drive-and-kick game. Initial penetration would draw defensive attention and lead to a kick to the corner, which would lead to a close-out and more dribble penetration and an ensuing kick-out from the wing, which would lead to an open three-pointer above the break. That cycle of dribble action may make it seem like the Mavs were getting nowhere, but having so may consecutive opportunities to put pressure on the opposing defense is hugely beneficial. Hence the scoreboard.
  • Which isn’t to say that the Mavs didn’t work the ball in other, less direct ways. Dallas’ ball movement was as crisp around the perimeter as it was from the inside out; despite the fact that everyone seemed to be connecting on their three-point attempts, the Mavs willingly rotated the ball around the perimeter to fully scramble the Suns’ defense and manufacture wide open attempts. They could have settled — in a sense — for good shots rather than great ones, but the ball never stuck to a single hot hand.
  • The basketball gods gave the Mavericks a gift: On the second night of a back-to-back — and following a hard-fought overtime game against the San Antonio Spurs — Dallas was given a crack at the struggling Phoenix Suns. Even better: They were given a crack at the struggling Phoenix Suns sans the one player that the Suns can never afford to lose. Again, hence the scoreboard.

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Tunnel Vision

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 30, 2012 under Video | Read the First Comment

More gold from the most video-savvy franchise in sports:

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 101, San Antonio Spurs 100

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 29, 2012 under Recaps | 5 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas98.0103.146.012.029.67.1
San Antonio102.054.820.226.48.9

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

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 116, Utah Jazz 101

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 28, 2012 under Recaps | 7 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas88.0131.861.626.838.28.9
Utah114.849.426.227.98.8

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

  • Rodrigue Beaubois (22 points, 9-15 FG, 3-5 3FG, seven assists, six rebounds, four blocks, two turnovers) is such a fascinating player to watch that Rick Carlisle, unprompted, crafted a persona for Beaubois as entertainer. Even with that in mind, this particular performance may be the promising guard’s finest work — as a competitor, as an entertainer, or in virtually any other role you would seek to assign him. It wasn’t Beaubois’ most prolific game nor his most significant, but never has Beaubois created such a profound impact without caveat. There are no “buts” or asterisks; Beaubois was tremendous, as he flashed every angle of his high-scoring potential with impressive drives, cuts, and jumpers. With so many elements of his game tuned to precision, Beaubois finally found his way. Mais il arriva que le petit prince, ayant longtemps marché à travers les sables, les rocs et les neiges, découvrit enfin une route. Et les routes vont toutes chez les hommes. “Bonjour, dit-il.” C’était un jardin fleuri de roses.
  • If I may gush further: Beaubois’ full-speed reads on pick and rolls were a thing of absolute beauty. He previously would approach such sequences as strictly a two-man game, but with experience, Beaubois’ scope has widened. He sees the baseline cutter and the open spot-up shooter — the men that, in the flurry of addressing their compromise in coverage, the defense has forgotten. Beaubois may always be a scorer first and foremost, but this was a fantastic passing display on a night when it was sorely needed.
  • This game completely exploded in the fourth quarter. Dallas had managed to protect a meager lead prior to the final frame, but Utah was still very much within range of a win due to their effectiveness on the interior. Then, the Mavs snatched the possibility of a Jazz win away without much notice or remorse, and what had once been a very reasonable affair grew into a walk-off victory for Dallas in a matter of minutes. It’s good to see the Mavs close out a game so dominantly, but it’s even better to see a previously struggling offense put together four consecutive quarters of 28 points or more.

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The Difference: Minnesota Timberwolves 105, Dallas Mavericks 90

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 25, 2012 under Recaps | 5 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas96.093.844.210.524.611.6
Minnesota109.450.042.919.314.1

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

  • Ricky Rubio (17 points, 12 assists, seven rebounds, four steals, seven turnovers) did a terrific job of getting the Wolves good looks both inside and out, be he hardly did all the work. Minnesota’s bigs fought hard to get good interior position and create contact once they received the entry pass, and the perimeter players worked diligently for a slice of open floor. The Wolves’ offensive success was hardly constant, but they at least seemed to know what worked and what didn’t, and sought to capitalize on their in-game strengths. Dallas, despite being a team of mismatch creation and utilization, didn’t quite share in that approach.
  • That said, there was a time in this game when the Mavs were pushing the pace not only as a means of getting easy transition buckets, but also forcing opponents to scramble into mismatches. On one particular first-quarter possession, Rubio was mismatched on Lamar Odom, giving Delonte West a chance to pull the ball out for a fake entry look before darting a pass to a wide open Brendan Haywood for an easy dunk. Haywood’s defender had snuck away to help on Odom, and West had correctly identified not only the mismatch, but its ripple effect.
  • The most succinct explanation possible for why the Mavs withered away on offense: they settled. Rarely is it so simple, but Minnesota applied defensive pressure, and Dallas recoiled. No rally. No response. There were simply too many pull-up threes and too many lazy sets. The Mavs tried to speed up their futile comeback attempt with quick jumpers early in the shot clock, but bricked pretty much every “momentum-changing” shot they attempted. I guess they did speed things up in a sense, merely not in the direction that they intended.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 93, Phoenix Suns 87

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 24, 2012 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas94.098.945.735.818.811.3
Phoenix92.641.026.528.817.0

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 was certainly more of a defensive win than an offensive win, though Dallas had a way of playing to the extremes on D. The Mavs did a good job of pressuring shots, clogging passing lanes, and preventing penetration in a general sense, but were periodically victimized by Steve Nash’s (eight points, 2-9 FG, 12 assists, three turnovers) typical pick-and-roll brilliance. The defensive execution on those high screen-and-rolls improved as the game went on, but as late in the third and fourth quarters we still saw the occasional breakdown in coverage that led to a wide open attempt for Marcin Gortat within five feet of the basket, or an open three-point look for a Suns shooter without so much as a mild contest. Dallas’ final defensive numbers were pretty solid, but it would be reassuring to see some steadiness in their execution. It’s easy to settle for improved effort and play in the second half en route to a win, but when a team is posting elite defensive marks for the season, they deserve a bit more scrutiny than an “all’s well that ends well” outlook would typically provide. Bravo for the rebound, but those first-half quirks can’t become too common.
  • Although Dallas struggled offensively overall (45.7% eFG%; 99.9 points per 100 possessions), this was an oddly dominant performance by the Maverick bigs. Brendan Haywood  (5-10 FG) scored Dallas’ first two buckets and finished with 10 on some pretty aggressive moves to the rim, Ian Mahinmi (4-7 FG, 9-12 FT) scored 17 points on just seven shots, and Brandan Wright came off the bench in the first half to play some productive minutes alongside Mahinmi rather than behind him. There was a stretch in the second quarter when every positive play on the floor seemed to be due to either Mahinmi or Wright, and their energy on both ends was crucial as Dallas figured out how to adjust their defensive coverage.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 83, New Orleans Hornets 81

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 22, 2012 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas91.091.243.025.323.112.0
New Orleans89.038.541.022.011.5

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 sat out his first of what will be four games played in absentia, and we got our first glimpse of how the Mavericks might operate with their best player wearing a suit as casually as humanly possible. If this first outing against the Hornets is any indication, we’re due for a familiar look: Shawn Marion (14 points, 6-11 FG, 12 rebounds) quietly continuing his terrific season on both ends of the court, Delonte West (16 points, 6-10 FG, six assists, five rebounds) playing like he’s been a part of the Mavericks’ system for a decade, understated defensive play from Brendan Haywood (six points, 10 rebounds, two blocks), extended struggles from Jasons Kidd (zero points, 0-6 FG, five assists, nine boards) and Terry (12 points, 3-16 FG), and Lamar Odom as a complete wild card. Odom’s opportunities for playing time and production won’t be any more ripe than those he’ll see in the coming week; Dallas will need his scoring pretty badly while JET continues to struggle from the field, and thus Rick Carlisle may be more willing to allow Odom to play through his mistakes in the hopes of later seeing glimpses of the old Odom. We saw plenty of said mistakes on Saturday night, as Odom put on an absurd, one-man showcase of jump passes and curious decisions. Crossovers and fakes in isolation before throwing a cross-court pass to Shawn Marion? Managing five three-point attempts against a slew of opponents who have no hope of stopping him off the dribble or in the post? Odom’s judgment with the ball still isn’t where it needs to be, but it’s a credit to his talent and effort that he was able to contribute 16 points and four boards in 26 minutes of action nonetheless. The space cadet performances are part and parcel with Odom, but hopefully he can manage a more level game on Monday night.

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