The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 94, Utah Jazz 100

Posted by Kirk Henderson on January 8, 2013 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

HourGlass

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.

  • At the risk of being unoriginal, I simply had to pass this on from Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas: The last time the Dalllas Mavericks lost 9 of 10, Cuban purchased the team with 2 games left in that run of futility. In other words, it’s been over 13 years.
  • The Carlisle line ups are starting to get puzzling. Chris Kaman (14 points, nine rebounds) had a nice first half, but was ineffectual at best in the second. Elton Brand (11 points, eight rebounds in only 20 minutes) had eight points and three rebounds in the third quarter alone. So why Kaman was in during crunch time is baffling. Even Dirk has questioned why Carlisle insists on playing he and Kaman together, as neither is a decent one on one defender. I assume real time data is available to the Dallas coaching staff, and for the third straight game, Dallas missed a close out chance by playing the wrong guys at the wrong time.
  • The Utah announcers made an interesting series of points tonight regarding Dirk’s (20 points, five assists) play as of late. Specifically that he’s not dribbling much within the offense. If you remove the fourth quarter last ditch effort from the equation, you can probably count the number of dribbles he took in the game on one hand. Part of this is by design, as Dirk is ridiculously effective without the dribble, either by shooting on the catch or reversing the ball quickly to an open man. Then again, Jazz announcer (and former player) Matt Harpring also said that Dirk is ineffectual off the dribble which is like insisting the sky is purple.
  • The downside of this tonight seemed to be a misguided attempt to force feed Kaman the ball. Kaman has been a solid addition, all things considered, but he shouldn’t be the first option for Dallas. His points have to come within the flow of the offense and the Utah coaches even took a crack at him during a half time interview saying that when the ball enters to him, it rarely comes back out. That’s not a good thing.
  • Elton Brand is alive! After shooting 37% in November, Brand has been shooting the ball very well, over 50% in fact going on a month and a week. Tonight he shot a very efficient 5-for-7 from the floor. Why he’s averaging just 22 minutes is a bit of a mystery.
  • Gordon Hayward (27 points, six rebounds, five assists) is a brilliant basketball player. His block of a Roddy layup at the rim in the fourth was a masterpiece of fast break defense. How the Jazz are only a single game above .500 is a bit of a conundrum. That a guy like Hayward comes off the bench shows just how many viable options the Jazz have to go with on a given night. Alec Burks (13 points, 8-of-9 FTs) is another young name to keep an eye on.

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 96, New Orleans Hornets 99

Posted by Kirk Henderson on January 5, 2013 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

Horrnet

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.

  • The starting front court of Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman doesn’t make a lot of sense. The spacing offensively is really rough, and defensively neither Dirk nor Kaman can play very good man to man defense or recover well on pick and rolls (though I’d argue each is a competent help defender). The Carter, Dirk, Elton Brand front court, however, has good spacing, and Brand seems to fit better defensively with Dirk, particularly as a rim protector. It was understandable that Carlisle went with Marion on that final possession since the Vasquez pick and roll meant a switch would be to the Maverick’s advantage, but the leaving Marion in as the “center”, along with Collison, Mayo, Carter, and Dirk for the second straight overtime simply didn’t work. I really don’t get why Carlisle went away from the line up from the last four minutes of the game. Then again, had Mayo hit any of the wide open shots he had in the overtime, we’d be having a different discussion.
  • In the third, Dirk Nowitzki (20 points, six rebounds) had back to back threes coming as the trailer for the transition offense. Any other trailer in the Dallas offense immediately continues swinging the ball around the perimeter. The threat of Dirk literally opens up the entire Dallas offense. He has the green light to shoot, drive, or reverse the ball, and is also a threat to make an interior post feed as he did to Kaman for a lay up later in the quarter after a Mayo ball reversal.
  • It feels like ages since O.J. Mayo (14 points, five rebounds) played a complete game. Tonight he kept his turnovers down, but couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn and failed to notch a single assist. As Mayo has improved throughout the first half of the season, it’s become easy to nit pick aspects of his game. Lately, it’s been his propensity to turn the ball over. However, I’d like to see him stop biting on pump fakes on long jump shots. In the second quarter, he bit on a Ryan Anderson pump fake, which led to a give and go lay up for Anderson. With Anderson being 6’10″, Mayo isn’t going to block his shot. All he can do is challenge with a hand up. Defensively, Mayo is a liability far too often.

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.


Setting the Table: New Orleans Hornets (Game 34)

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

8345298930_d695d43e0b_z

The Dallas Mavericks (13-20) look to get back on track after a tough overtime loss to the Miami Heat as they host the New Orleans Hornets (7-25). The big news leading up to the game against the Hornets was a lingering possibility of Dirk Nowitzki starting for the first time this season. Dirk practiced with the starters for a majority of the time during the team’s practice on Friday afternoon. Dirk’s minutes have gradually increased since he returned to the lineup for the Mavericks. He played 29 minutes in the overtime loss at Miami on Jan. 2, the most he has played since his Dec. 23 return against San Antonio.

The news was made official at the team’s shootaround as Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told reporters that Dirk will make his first start of the season against the Hornets. His return to the starting lineup does create a question that will be examined later in the preview.

Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Hornets

Read more of this article »

Thermodynamics: Week 10

Posted by Travis Wimberly on January 3, 2013 under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Ice Cubes Melting

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

This week’s installment of Thermodynamics won’t be quite as negative as last week’s. For one, the Mavs actually won a game (emphasis on “a”), going 1-4 on the week. For another, they played fairly well in two of their four losses, both of which came against NBA finalists from last season.

But enough of those generalities. Let’s talk details.

Week 10 (@Thunder, Nuggets, Spurs, @Wizards, @Heat)

FIRE

1) Darren Collison

This one is easy. Collison had his best week as a Maverick, showing confidence we haven’t seen since the first games of the season. Squaring off against his former UCLA backcourt mate Russell Westbrook, Collison started his week by going 13-of-22 (59%) for 32 points in Oklahoma City. The highlight of his night—and probably the entire NBA week—came at the end of regulation when he nailed a ridiculous, game-tying three. If that’s not enough to convince, here’s more proof that Collison lit it up: when Westbrook was asked about Collison’s performance after the game (a Thunder win, mind you), Westbrook immediately cut off his postgame interview and cussed on his way out of the locker room (credit: AP). As a sidenote, if you’re on a tight budget, I recommend you avoid purchasing Westbrook’s newest book, How to Cope with Minor Frustrations Like An Actual Adult.

Collison used his terrific performance in Oklahoma City as a springboard for a solid week. In all, he shot 35-of-68 (51%), scored 17.2 PPG, and dished out 5.2 APG. These numbers represent a marked improvement from Collison’s previous several weeks. With OJ Mayo’s recent regression — which most Mavs fans expected — Collison’s uptick has been a welcome sight. Now that he’s firmly installed as the Mavs’ starting PG, perhaps these performances will become the norm.

Read more of this article »

Searching for Answers

Posted by Brian Rubaie on January 2, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

Searching

The Dallas Mavericks are searching for answers with little room for error or time to spare. Optimists soothed early doubters by suggesting that incorporating Dirk Nowitzki, grooming O.J. Mayo and stepping up the defense would inevitably improve the team’s long-term outlook, even if it took time. The recent losing streak, however, has prompted demands for immediate results. Suggestions have ranged from the dramatic, such as Rick Carlisle’s recent talk of player suspensions and panicked calls from some fans to fire Carlisle, to the mundane, with moves like calling up Jared Cunningham from the D-League.

The best ways to make short-term improvements to the team are tactical. The Mavericks should put the ball in Collison’s hands and take it out of Mayo’s, play lineups that halt opponents’ second-chance opportunities and make good decisions with defensive assignments. None of these solutions is a cure-all, but all are necessary to cure what ails Dallas.

Read more of this article »

Quoteboard: Dallas Mavericks 103, Washington Wizards 94

Posted by Kirk Henderson on under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Board

I was able to get to the game in Washington DC last night, as Dallas stopped a six game skid against the Washington Wizards. The Difference provides a breakdown to the keys of the game, but to recap, Washington got out to a 14 point lead in the second quarter as the Maverick offense struggled to get any shots to fall. A Darren Collison fast break and-one finally got the Maverick offense going as they were able to close the Washington lead down to four by half time. A 35 point outburst in the third put Dallas up, as Shawn Marion and Darren Collison lead the way. The final period saw Vince Carter assert himself early and often, scoring 10 of his game high 23 points. He finished the game with a mighty left handed dunk.

Washington saw a solid performance from rookie Bradley Beal, as he put up 22 points. The Wizards have been dealing with a rash of injuries which have hurt their rotations. To give you an example, recently signed D-league call up Garrett Temple made the start at point guard for the Wizards.

Here are the top five quotes from last night’s game.

O.J. Mayo

On the last two weeks: “It’s been crazy. Not winning, I think we all lose sleep. We are all a little stressed out, a little tense. It definitely doesn’t make going home any better losing games so we just came into practice and got some good work in before we came out here. We understood that even though it’s New Years, it’s a business trip and let’s go out here and handle business the right way.

Nene

On the game: “I think we gave it a good game. We gave it a great first start. They had experience, they have good players. We wake up the beast (Dirk Nowitzki), and the beast starts making shots. Vince Carter looked like young Vince Carter. I think they did a great job including the post, they had great defense, they forced us to pass the ball to the side and we lost.”

Wizards Head Coach Randy Wittman

On the third quarter:  ”They (Mavericks) came out and kind of blitzed in the third quarter. As a team they turned up their intensity and shot very well from the field. They got a lot of shots to go for them that weren’t falling in the earlier possessions of the game. It’s tough to defend a team that’s shooting 67% from the field.”

Rick Carlisle

On Vince Carter and Chris Kaman: “Vince had a great game. Offensively he was efficient. Defensively he was in the right place. He got some big rebounds for us. We need him to make plays, simple as that. I really thought everybody played well. I was especially impressed with Kaman’s game defensively tonight. He was down in the stance, was showing a level of aggression that helped us particularly in the third quarter.”

On Vince Carter’s athleticism: ”The play at the end of the game was pivotal because it kind of sealed the game. And it opened it up. He said to me coming off the court following the timeout, ‘I bet you didn’t think I could do that.’. But he still has tremendous athleticism even though he’s an older guy. He’s taking care of himself. He’s worked extremely hard, especially this year. And he’s a really important guy for us.”

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 103, Washington Wizards 94

Posted by Kirk Henderson on January 1, 2013 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

Rainbow

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.

  • There’s a scene in the movie The Replacements where Keanu Reaves says the one thing that scares him is quicksand. Not actual quicksand, of course, but the phenomenon in sports where one thing goes wrong, and then another, and then another. Soon enough it’s impossible to get back on the right track. These last six games, Dallas has come perilously close to getting pulled in by quicksand. A tough schedule, a recovering super star, and some glaring team deficiencies have caused unrest both in the locker room and in the fan base. Winning tonight, while certainly not the team’s finest work, was important if only to remind these guys that they are much better than they’ve been playing as of late.
  • While Dallas got off to a rough start offensively, it was the defense of Chris Kaman (12 points, seven rebounds) which kept the game from getting out of hand early in the first quarter. He’ll never be mistaken for a rim protector, but his three blocks in the first quarter were important to establishing a defensive tone that the Mavericks haven’t had since the win back against the 76ers.
  • The Vince Carter explosion was a great change of pace. His December scoring was down three points compared to November and his shooting percentage was below 40%. Tonight he had 23 points on 14 shots. We can’t expect this sort of scoring outburst by any stretch, but Carter’s contributions are vital if Dallas hopes to get back in the playoff hunt.
  • The most important part of this game’s box score was the number zero in the turnover column for O.J. Mayo (15 points, five assists). In 15 games in December, Mayo had five or more turnovers seven times. Connor believes these are correctable turnovers that should stop occurring as Mayo gets more experience. I tend to agree.
  • It was a delight to see Darren Collison drive from the top of the key only to whip a pass back to the trailing Dirk Nowitzki for a three. This was the sort of play we all envisioned with the signing of Collison.
  • Though we’re only seeing it in spots due to Dirk still getting back in shape, it’s fun to see how he changes the way teams defend Dallas. There’s more penetration available for Collison, which results in crisp passing, which then results in better shot attempts. The offense has worked in fits and starts this season, but Dirk’s the key.
  • Collison was unable to convert many shots tonight, going 4-for-13 from the field. However, his attacking style paid off for Dallas as he shot seven free throws and forced the defense to rotate to defend him as he probed the paint.
  • In post game comments, Carlisle talked about how the Mavericks really haven’t seen enough data on any of the line ups to declare any one unit better than the others, simply because of the injury issues and the revolving door of players Dallas has had suit up this season. It’s odd, just because we’re nine games away from the halfway point in the season, but he’s probably right. How they determine effectiveness and experiment with lineups as Dirk gets back into the rotation should be very interesting, because they’re also trying to make the playoffs despite being six games under .500.
  • Did anyone else think Shawn Marion had 14 rebounds? Being surprised by the constant effectiveness of Shawn Marion is one of the joys of being a fan of basketball.

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 105, Oklahoma City Thunder 111

Posted by Connor Huchton on December 28, 2012 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

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.

  • For three quarters of this game, the Mavericks controlled the tempo. The offense produced wonderfully, mostly due to an outstanding game from Darren Collison (13-22 FG, 4-4 3PT, 32 points, five rebounds, four assists, four steals, three turnovers) and the efforts of Chris Kaman (7-14 FG, 17 points, eight rebounds) and Shawn Marion (5-12 FG, 14 points, nine rebounds, seven assists), the latter of which nearly recorded a triple-double.
  • But after a stagnant fourth quarter, one which saw Kevin Durant (13-28 FG, 10-10 FT, 40 points, eight rebounds, five assists) lead the Thunder to a three-point lead with 2.2 seconds remaining, prospects appeared dire for the Mavericks.
  • And then this happened.
  • It was a bizarre, incredible moment that gave the Mavericks new life and a chance at a hard-fought overtime win. Unfortunately, that win was not to be. The issues that troubled the Mavericks’ fourth quarter offense continued into overtime. O.J. Mayo’s (1-7 FG, four points) recent struggles proceeded and amplified in the extra period. With the Mavericks facing a one-point deficit and less than one minute left, Mayo made a costly turnover. Like many of the turnovers that plague his game, it was avoidable and caused largely by confusion and impatience.
  • After picking up his dribble (with plenty of time left on the shot clock), he forced a pass to Collison that was easily stolen, and the resulting transition bucket put the Thunder comfortably ahead. Later, Mayo drew a clever foul on a three-point attempt with the Mavericks down three and 33 seconds remaining. Though a typically stellar free-throw shooter, Mayo unluckily made only one of three free throws, and the Mavericks never bounced back.
  • Dirk Nowitzki (3-11 FG, nine points, six rebounds) performed below his typical standards in 26 minutes of action. Hopefully the power of time will quickly aid him in his ascendancy back to stardom.

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 82, Memphis Grizzlies 92

Posted by Connor Huchton on December 22, 2012 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Silbury Hill

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.

  • The Mavericks did not lack for effort on Friday night. What they did lack for was sufficient personnel to defeat a team of the Memphis Grizzlies’ caliber.
  • That isn’t to say that the current Mavericks could never beat an elite team. They very well could if O.J. Mayo (3-11 FG, 1-4 3PT, 10 points) and Chris Kaman (4-12 FG, eight points, six rebounds) performed at higher respective levels. But that wasn’t the case against a stringent Grizzlies’ defense led by Tony Allen (5-14 FG, 10 points, three steals). Allen’s defense on Mayo could only be classified as superb.
  • Shawn Marion, consummate professional, led the way with 14 points (6-11 FG) and 11 rebounds.
  • Marion’s field goal percentage is now comfortably above his career average and hovering near 50% FG. That’s likely been aided by the Mavericks’ increasingly transition-focused offense and his gradual reduction of three-point attempts, but it’s impressive nonetheless.
  • The Mavericks’ three primary three-point shooters – Jae Crowder (1-9 FG, 0-4 3PT, two points, five rebounds), Vince Carter (5-14 FG, 3-9 3PT, 14 points, seven rebounds), and Mayo – made only four of 17 attempts.
  • Had one of the three been more in rhythm, this game might have been significantly different.
  • The play of Dominique Jones (4-9 FG, 13 points, seven assists) was a nice, if tempered, positive. Jones utilized his greatest skill (reaching the basket via quick first step) to distribute effectively and to draw free throw attempts, of which he made all five.
  • Neither the Mavericks or Grizzlies shot the ball well in any facet, as each team barely eclipsed 40 percent on field goals and shot less than 30 percent from three.
  • The Grizzlies were able to overcome those halfcourt scoring woes by winning the turnover battle (by a 22 to 15 margin, or +7), and capitalizing on the resulting transition opportunities early in the game.
  • Brandan Wright (5-6 FG, 12 points, five rebounds) continued his run of incredible scoring efficiency in somewhat extended action (26 minutes). A near perfect scoring night from Wright should no longer surprise, and yet it still does. But Wright’s night was not entirely perfect – he struggled to keep the ball (three turnovers), and struggled at times on the defensive end. Still, it was an impressive performance for someone returning from an ankle injury.

Setting the Table: Miami Heat (Game 26)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on December 20, 2012 under Previews | Be the First to Comment

8288813667_122e697693_z

The challenges now begin to really ramp up as the Dallas Mavericks (12-13) host the defending champions, the Miami Heat (16-6). Starting with the Heat, the next six teams on the Mavericks’ schedule having winning records. Dallas is looking to continue their success against the Eastern Conference. With the victory over the Sixers at American Airlines Center on 12/18, the Mavericks improved to 6-0 against Eastern Conference teams at home.

The Mavericks will come into the game against the Heat somewhat short-handed. News came  on 12/19 that Brandan Wright sprained his right ankle late in Tuesday’s win over the 76ers. Both Wright and Elton Brand (strained right groin) will be game-time decisions against Miami. Derek Fisher (strained patellar tendon) is likely going to be out for the game. The team is still awaiting results of the MRI Fisher had on 12/19.

Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Heat.

Read more of this article »