The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 107, Los Angeles Clippers 96

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 9, 2011 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Screen shot 2011-04-09 at 4.52.28 PM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas96.0111.552.920.035.717.7
Los Angeles100.053.918.425.021.9

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

  • Wins against the Clippers may be all but assumed, but don’t take this one for granted; Dallas needed a W pretty badly for both the sake of their collective psyche and their place in the standings, and bounced back from a poor defensive performance in the first quarter to win this one outright. Dallas forced a ton of turnovers, which acted as a catalyst for their transition game. The Mavs rounded into form once they got out on the break, as the influx of easy fast break buckets relieved enough pressure on their half court offense to keep it stable. It’s wonderful to see the defense power the offense again, and the Mavs — though unlikely to create turnovers at this rate in the postseason — will need to establish a similar level of offensive/defensive flow. The success of one end should carry into the other, provided that the effort and execution are there.
  • Sub-plot of the game: Jason Terry had some kind of “tirade”/“heated exchange”/fit at the beginning of the second quarter, apparently aimed at J.J. Barea. The confrontation wasn’t exactly spotlighted on the broadcast, but Terry was certainly frustrated, and Barea’s slightly off-target pass to a curling Terry — an exchange which resulted in a turnover and a fast break layup for Los Angeles — apparently made him boil over. The team intends to deal with the matter internally, but I’m sure it’ll be hinted at in the coming weeks, particularly if Terry’s frustrations continue into the postseason. For now, it’s nothing more than an asterisk; Terry didn’t play after his outburst, but he’ll be back soon enough, likely in good (enough) spirits.
  • More relevant sub-plot of the game: Corey Brewer (20 points, 8-16 FG, six rebounds, four assists, four turnovers, four steals, one huge block to prevent a fast break layup) did it big — again. The case is certainly mounting for Brewer to have a spot on the Mavs’ playoff roster, though his inclusion would likely mean that one of DeShawn Stevenson or Brian Cardinal would be left out. Normally that would be a tough call to make, but Brewer has been playing tremendously well over the last two games. His breakout game against the Nuggets seemed slightly fluky; Brewer just isn’t going to convert his jumpers at that reliable of a rate every night. That doesn’t devalue his defense or hustle, but expecting such a high point total from primarily perimeter looks is a bit questionable. That said, Brewer’s performance on Friday was a bit more in line with his skill set, even if it exceeded expectation. He slashed to the bucket, finished fast breaks, and cut backdoor. These are the kinds of things that Brewer can do nightly, independent of whether his jumper is actually falling, and it’s one reason I saw him succeeding in a Marion-esque capacity for the Mavs.
  • All of which ignores Brewer’s incredible defensive effort. He’s endeared himself to his teammates rather quickly, in no small part due to the fact that Brewer is going hard at all times, looking at every element during a possession as a chance to make a play. Henry Abbott wrote the following concerning Brewer over a month ago, and I’ve had the sentence bouncing around my head during every minute that Brewer’s been on the floor over the last two games:”Once you clue in to the guy, it’s glaringly obvious that no one on the court is defending like him.”
  • One last note for BrewerFest 2011: the guy is an unexpectedly smooth playmaker. He can’t run an offense, and if you give him the ball at the top of the key and tell him to go to work, your possession could end in shambles. But swing the ball to him on the weak side against a stilted defense, and Brewer seems to not only know exactly how to drive in order to maximize his potential to score, but also to set up for a little bounce pass or drop-off to an open big man. Brewer’s four assists were a huge help to the Mavs last night.
  • Dallas did some incredible work on the offensive glass. Posting an effective field goal percentage of 52.9 percent doesn’t leave all that many caroms, but the Mavs did a terrific job of scrapping for rebounds and keeping loose balls alive. I lied about the finality of my last Brewer praise: He was the leader in terms of offensive rebounding effort and collection, but Shawn Marion (13 points, 5-10 FG, 10 rebounds, four offensive boards, four assists) was also huge in that regard, as was Tyson Chandler — who wasn’t credited with many offensive boards but tapped quite a few out to the Maverick guards. The height of the Mavs’ rebounding dominance was in the third quarter, when the Clippers were only able to collect five boards for the entire 12 minutes.
  • Dirk Nowitzki scored 20 points on 16 shots, grabbed eight rebounds, and notched seven assists. Nothing to see here, folks, just one of the best players in basketball, looking about as brilliant as one could expect.
  • It was mentioned briefly above, but the Mavs’ first quarter defense was fairly horrendous. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan have a way of making opponents pay for their slow rotations on the back line, and the Clips exploited the Mavs to the tune of 35 points (on 15-of-23 shooting) in the first frame. Dallas then went on to hold L.A. to 61 points over the final three quarters while forcing 18 turnovers along the way.
  • Mo Williams (29 points, 10-18 FG, 5-9 3FG, five rebounds, six assists, seven turnovers) scored quite well, but he was making everything. He worked his way into good looks from short and mid-range, but also took some of his pet pull-up three pointers (the Chauncey Billups special) when bringing the ball up court. The Mavs certainly could have closed out better on Williams and not doubled Blake Griffin quite so often in the post (Tyson Chandler is a pretty formidable interior defender, and the help wasn’t exactly all that helpful), but the Clipper guard was hitting easy and difficult looks alike. It was just his night, and if I’m Rick Carlisle, I’d be far more pleased with Eric Gordon’s (11 points, 4-12 FG, six assists, five turnovers, four steals) relative invisibility than Williams’ outburst.
  • The problem isn’t that Rodrigue Beaubois is incapable of playing point guard, but that he apparently doesn’t feel comfortable being an aggressive scorer when asked to fill in for Jason Kidd. Skill-wise, he’s a competent replacement, yet you don’t see the same drives or even shot attempts in general from Beaubois when he’s a “point guard.” I can appreciate that he wants to facilitate the play of his teammates, but Beaubois isn’t precise enough with his passing to impact a game the way Kidd does. His greatest impact will come through scoring for the conceivable future, and that potential to create offense for himself will open up opportunities for his teammates.
  • Peja Stojakovic (10 points, 4-7 FG, 2-5 3FG) and J.J. Barea (15 points, 4-13 FG, four rebounds, five assists, six turnovers) performed well in supporting roles. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, both offered their designated contributions on offense — three-point shooting and dribble penetration, respectively — without hurting the team’s defensive concept. That’s all one could reasonably ask.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on October 21, 2010 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

  • Mark Cuban. The Situation. Why not? (UPDATE: See the pairing, along with Vinnie and Ronnie, in all of their photoshopped glory.)
  • Rick Carlisle, on his trip to Orlando last summer to recruit and sign Marcin Gortat (via Eddie Sefko): “I came down here and had a great recruiting trip. He let me drive his car. It could go 220 mph. At one point, he said: put the pedal all the way down to the bottom.” Carlisle wouldn’t divulge his top-end speed, although he acknowledged it may have been a shade over the local speed limits in Orlando. “It didn’t work out,” Carlisle said. “We wish him the best. He still stays in touch with me. He’s a terrific guy.”
  • The Texas Legends are big time. So big time, in fact, that they’ll be broadcasting one of the Legends’ preseason games, against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, on VERSUS. Not too shabby for a team that has yet to play a single game in a league that has lacked the exposure it deserves.
  • Mike Prada unveils the second edition of the Watchability Scale, and the Mavs fall understandably in the middle of the pack under the header “RELIABLE, PREDICTABLE.” Hard to argue there. Dallas is rock-steady, and while their approach has gotten them 50+ wins every season for an entire decade, it does make them a bit of a broken record. Through Nellie, Avery, and Carlisle, a lot has changed, but the bread and butter of the Dallas offense hasn’t.
  • In a chat with Quick DFW, Mark Cuban was asked if he ever envisioned what the Mavs would be like had Dirk left this summer. Cuban’s response? “No. I have pictures, so I knew we were safe. :) ” (via DOH at Mavs Moneyball)
  • Tyson Chandler suffered a boo-boo in last night’s preseason game against the Magic, which has since been stitched up and will need about a week to heal. What happens next week again? Oh, yeah.
  • Dominique Jones, on the difference between himself and Mavs’ assistant coach Darrell Armstrong, who was the point guard for the Magic when Jones was growing up in Orlando (via Eddie Sefko): “I don’t take charges.” Well, he had better start taking them if he wants to be an effective NBA defender. Armstrong, of course, chimed in as a voice of reason: “He’s got to learn how to take charges. I think he took one in summer camp. That might have been the one that hurt his feelings and he said, ‘I don’t take charges.’ He might not know how to do it, but that’s another something I got to teach him.”
  • J.J. Barea is still the back-up point guard, though Carlisle hinted the job is probably Rodrigue Beaubois’ upon his return.

UPDATE:

  • Royce Young had me over to his place to preview the Thunder’s upcoming season. OKC will be battling with the Mavs every step of the way, so familiarize yourself. Also, while you’ve over at Daily Thunder, take a peek through Royce and co.’s preview magazine. Very well done.
  • A few scouts think Dallas can make it to the conference finals, and one picks San Antonio to win it all.
  • Eddy Rivera of Magic Basketball recapped the Mavs’ brief success in their game against the Magic last night: “The Mavericks did put up a fight in the first half, trailing by two points at halftime. A big reason for that was because the Magic’s second unit got killed in the second quarter against the 5-man combination of J.J. Barea, Dominique Jones, Caron Butler, Dirk Nowitzki, and Tyson Chandler. Dallas put on a clinic offensively, running a lot of pick and pops for Nowitzki, pick and rolls for Chandler, backdoor screens for the wing players, and more. It was just beautiful to watch. Likewise, until the starters for Orlando checked into the game at the 4:37 minute mark in the period, the reserves were struggling to create for themselves on offense. That was a big reason for Dallas’ 16-2 run and six point lead in the quarter.”
  • A closer look at J.J. Barea’s Under Armour kicks.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on September 17, 2010 under xOther | 5 Comments to Read

  • Can the Mavs beat the Lakers? A definitive answer from within the Dallas organization.
  • Erick Dampier is making his list and checking it twice. Certain to be considered: Miami and Houston. A possible surprise: Atlanta. I’ve heard Utah may be interested as well, but I haven’t the faintest idea if there’s any reciprocation.
  • Josh Howard, on why the Wizards “took a gamble” on him for the coming season, and how the Wizards stack up with Howard’s former teams in terms of talent (via HoopsHype): “[The Wizards] see a natural-born leader. They got a guy that loves to win games, loves to play, has a total enjoyment for the game… I appreciate that they gave me the chance and I will take advantage of it...Oh, talent-wise the sky is the limit for this team. It’s a young team. Blatche, McGee, Nick Young, No. 1 pick John Wall and a host of other guys. These guys have tremendous upside. If we stay focused and stay dedicated to the game, the sky is the limit for them. I think that’s one other reason they brought me in here – to be a leader. I think I can take those guys on the right path.”
  • Mike Prada of Bullets Forever takes a look forward at what’s in store for Howard over the coming season.
  • Here, you can cast your vote for the top Mavs of all time at each traditional position, but the race has long been decided: Steve Nash, Rolando Blackman, Mark Aguirre, Dirk Nowitzki, and Roy Tarpley should win-out easily. There are other good candidates — Michael Finley, Derek Harper, and Jason Kidd among them, but those five were clear favorites from the tip. (EDIT: I stand corrected. Finley has surged to take the lead at SG. I love Fin, and I’m still shocked.)
  • For a journey down the other path, Tom Haberstroh, ESPN Insider, a fellow contributor at Hardwood Paroxysm, and one of the invaluable minds at HoopData, has identified the five worst statistical tenures for players of each and every team. Dallas’ bottom five: Devean George (’07-’09), Scott Lloyd (’81-’83), Darrell Armstrong (’05-’06), Bill Wennington (’86-’90), and Elston Turner (’82-’84). My initial reaction: isn’t there any way we could come up with a harsher distinction than “worst Maverick ever” for George? My secondary reaction: Armstrong doesn’t deserve to be on this list at all, if for no other reason than the role he played in the Mavs’ comeback, overtime win against the Toronto Raptors in February of 2006.
  • Haberstroh also continued his fine series exploring the statistical implications of position on HP, and it’s worth your time.
  • According to a report by Sport97, Jessie Begarin, a Guadaloupean and participant in Rodrigue Beaubois’ camp, was invited to tryout with the Texas Legends and his since been invited to Mavericks training camp. If this report is indeed true, you could be looking at a future Legend (capital L, y’all). (via DOH at Mavs Moneyball) EDIT: According to Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com, the Mavs/Legends don’t have any plans for Begarin after all.
  • Akis Yerocostas conducted an interesting exercise at his blog, Pick and Scroll, in which he launched a hypothetical expansion draft. I was consulted as an unofficial representative of the Mavs, in order to choose which players to “protect” for the purposes of the draft. See who I selected and who he ended up drafting here.
  • Tim Thomas, on his wife’s health (via Earl K. Sneed): “She’s healthy, she’s getting better. I don’t want people to think that she’s on her deathbed. I just want everybody to know we’re doing fine. She’s doing better. Who knows, if she gets better then maybe I’ll give it another try.”
  • This commercial for NBA 2k11 has nothing to do with the Mavs whatsoever, but is glorious nonetheless. Plus, the 2k series makes a mean game, to boot.
  • Rodrigue Beaubois goes shopping…at the MavGear headquarters.
  • Former Maverick Malik Allen will go to training camp with the Orlando Magic this season.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 23, 2010 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 17, 2009 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

  • As far as shoes go, I liked the look of Kevin Durant’s KD1s, and I’m particularly fond of the inside/outside colorways. But last night, Durant and the Thunder unveiled the truly awful, traffic cone orange “Dreamsicle” KD2s. It’s a definite downgrade, and although the kicks don’t make the man, I can’t help but feel that these shoes don’t do Durant justice.
  • Last night’s game didn’t sit well with Royce Young of Daily Thunder: “…I’m not going to lie, I’m a little upset about this one. Not because OKC lacked effort. Because boy howdy, these guys busted it. But when it really mattered, the seasoned, veteran team took over and made the plays. The young, inexperienced group didn’t. In areas the Thunder are normally very good, they weren’t. An uncharacteristic 14-23 from the free throw line. A couple defensive breakdowns late. Poor shooting from their best players. Maybe it was the pressure of the night, the lights of ESPN or something else. But the fact is, Oklahoma City just didn’t perform.”
  • Those of us who watch Dirk Nowitzki on a nightly basis are fully cognizant of his excellence. And for national columnists, it’s easy to overlook the footwork, the pump fakes, and the jumpers in favor of the more obvious talents of a LeBron James or a Dwyane Wade. All the more reason to appreciate Kelly Dwyer, who makes note of Nowitzki’s play almost nightly in his ‘Behind the Box Score.’ His words on Dirk’s performance last night were short and sweet, but to me ring with a sincerity and appreciation that’s not as easy to find among basketball scribes as one might think: “In the end, I think my favorite part of this game was listening to Hubie Brown slowly fall in love with James Harden. Either that, or the way you keep falling in love with Dirk Nowitzki’s game. Ten years later. Night after night. So glad this guy is still around, playing at a level like this.”
  • Skeets and Tas loved the Mavs-Thunder game last night, even if Tas isn’t too fond of Dirk’s headband.
  • As of yesterday, Kevin Durant was shooting just 30 of 80 (37.5%) in six games against the Mavs. As of this morning, he’s shooting 34 of 98 (34.6%). That, my friends, is a bonafide trend.
  • Over their next fifteen games, the Mavs play the Lakers (twice), the Celtics, the Cavs, the Nuggets, the Jazz, the Spurs, the Blazers, the Rockets (twice), the Thunder, the Kings, the Grizzlies, the Pistons, and the Raptors. The total W-L of those teams (weighted appropriately for opponents that appear multiple times) is 225-150, or a .600 win percentage. That means that for the next fifteen games, the Mavs will play an average opponent of the Utah Jazz.
  • In an “impromptu dunk contest” at practice today, Kris Humphries showed off some between-the-legs dunks, while assistant coach Darrell Armstrong tried his hand at the high-flying game…by doing a between-the-legs layup. It’s a sad reminder of Armstrong’s actual dunk contest appearance, which featured one of the worst dunks (or non-dunks) in contest history.
  • According to Mark Cuban, there are four factors which have been instrumental in the Mavs’ success over the last decade: a dedicated fan base, Donnie Nelson, Dirk Nowitzki, and keeping a consistent core.
  • Henry Abbott goes to work debunking the myth that Kobe Bryant is the best clutch player in the NBA, and goes to the numbers to reveal some clutch Mavs: “Every which way people slice and dice crunch time numbers — field goal percentage, plus/minus, you name it — Bryant is not the NBA’s best in crunch time. A glance at last year’s crunch time numbers on 82games.com makes clear Bryant shoots more than anyone else in the NBA in crunch time, but is he more skilled at making those shots? That’s what we’re trying to judge, right? In crunch time field goal percentage, last season Bryant finished 92nd in the League, right behind Michael Beasley. Others ahead of him include Kevin Garnett, both Gasols, Zach Randolph, Carmelo Anthony, Jason Terry, Jameer Nelson, Tim Duncan, Amare Stoudemire, Eric Gordon, Brandon Roy, Andre Iguodala, Jason Kidd, Ben Gordon, and Chris Bosh. You can remember Bryant hitting all those clutch baskets, stat geeks say. But you’re forgetting all the misses. (And if you are learning about Bryant from highlights, then you’re not even seeing most misses.)” Emphasis mine.

D.A. Will Be Laying Down the Law Soon in Dallas

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 27, 2009 under News | 2 Comments to Read

Damn straight.  According to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News, former Maverick Darrell Armstrong will be returning to the team as an assistant coach.  Armstrong is one of the league’s all-time “good guys,” and was tops (or certainly up there) on everybody’s list of NBA players to make the jump to coaching.  I’m glad he decided to latch on to the bottom of the Mavs to begin his career; we’ve missed you, D.A..

If Armstrong can bring the same enthusiasm and zeal to coaching that he did to playing, the Mavs have themselves an absolute steal.  His attitude is contagious and he’s learned a thing or two in his time ’round the league; it’s in the opinion of this writer that there is no single reason why Darrell Armstrong won’t make an excellent coach.

Congrats to the Mavs, and congrats to D.A..