Rarefied Air

Posted by Brian Rubaie on February 13, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

RarefiedAir

In a season rife with inconsistency, disappointment has been the lone constant for the 2012-2013 Dallas Mavericks.  Dallas is experiencing its least successful season of 21st century. The losses have taken a frustrating toll on devoted fans, players and coaches alike.

No one seems more bothered by the team’s performance than Rick Carlisle, who rarely allows himself the pleasure of celebrating or accepting credit for victories but often makes it a point to take personal responsibility when losses mount. The accountability Carlisle displays speaks well to his character but is also misleading. As much as Dallas has struggled, Carlisle has masterfully captained a ship that could’ve easily sunk long ago.

That point was strongly reinforced in Carlisle’s 500th victory one week ago against the Portland Trailblazers. The fans and players awarded Carlisle a standing ovation, an act which Carlisle predictably greeted with the same modesty he’s displayed throughout. Dubbed the “Baller of the Week” by our own Bryan Gutierrez in this week’s Rundown, Carlisle remarked that “It’s meaningful, but I’m not into those kinds of things. … One relief I have is I think after tomorrow I won’t have to hear about it again for a while, so that’s good.”

Carlisle doesn’t want the attention, but his achievement marks the season’s single most impressive feat in Dallas. With few other causes for celebration, win number 500 provides an appropriate moment for basketball fans to pause and appreciate this great coach’s work. One week later, the magnitude of the event, and the thought of all the work that it took to achieve it, is still a challenge to fully appreciate.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 116, Golden State Warriors 91

Posted by Connor Huchton on February 10, 2013 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Sunrise

Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot 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 has never been a player quite like Shawn Marion (11-16 FG, 2-3 3PT, 26 points, 11 rebounds), and it is unlikely that there will ever be another Shawn Marion in any future of ours.
  • He is basketball’s quiet genius performer, a gifted hardwood artist with the ability to paint a floor canvas with the contrasts of subtlety and bluntness, each swirling in needless but potent conjunction.
  • He glides towards the basket, he hoists an awkward three-point jumper, he defends your best player, and he does so with a consistency that is all to rare within this worldly toil.
  • A wise man once said, “There is no truth – only Shawn Marion’s jumper and all that comes with it.”
  • His game represents quite possibly everything (but no single something) that there is to be known about basketball and what the sport can achieve.
  • All that is to say, I enjoyed the way Shawn Marion played tonight.
  • And the rest of the Mavericks followed his glorious lead admirably.
  • The Mavericks have lost very few games this season when O.J. Mayo (19 points, 6-13 FG, nine assists, two turnovers) has passed well, and that trend continued quite easily against a Warriors’ team that seemed unable to keep up with a vibrant Dallas squad.
  • A similar belief could be stated regarding Darren Collison (18 points, 5-9 FG, 3-4 3PT eight assists, two turnovers), though perhaps to a lesser extent, as his ball movement has been a grade more consistent than that of Mayo.
  • Both players helped the Mavericks capitalize on a plethora of open three-pointers throughout the game, most of which the Warriors didn’t, or couldn’t, close out on with any great urgency.
  • I’m willing to bet that any performance involving 17 assists and four turnovers from the Mayo-Collison combination will lead to a Mavericks’ win.
  • Have I mentioned how quietly great at basketball Shawn Marion is?
  • The prestigious “Best Plus-Minus In A Blowout” award goes to elder post defense statesman Elton Brand (5-9 FG, 11 points, 11 rebounds) who earned a nice +32 in a cool 29 minutes, while determinedly controlling the lane as only he can.
  • If you would have told me pre-game that Steph Curry (8-23 FG, 1-3 3PT, 18 points, four assists, five turnovers) would take 23 field goals with only three of them being three pointers, I probably would have said something like: “No.”
  • Politely, of course.
  • That lack of attempts falls in part to the Mavericks, who did a solid job of committing to the perimeter and limiting Curry and the rest of the Warriors to a 6-16 three-point mark.
  • The Warriors played without the aid of Jarrett Jack and Andrew Bogut, each of whom is an important piece to the team’s exciting puzzle.
  • Bogut has scarcely played for the Warriors this season, so that holds somewhat lesser bearing.
  • But it’s safe to say that Golden State missed Jack’s steady presence on a night like tonight.
  • That is to say, a night in which no other Warrior player could do much of anything on the offensive side of the ball.
  • An NBA schedule sure is rigorous.
  • This is a pretty fun picture, and a solid example of the Dirk Yell.
  • Part of the reason Vince Carter has suddenly become more valuable this season is his surprising improvement on the defensive end (the Mavericks are consistently better on defense when Carter is on the floor), and while the sample size is inherently small, this is visual proof.
  • It’s very difficult to play 13 minutes without a field goal attempt in NBA play, but Andris Biedrins (eight rebounds) managed such a feat tonight. I don’t think such a choice is necessarily problematic, but it’s interesting.
  • In conclusion, I’m confident that Shawn Marion made this jumper.

Quoteboard: Dallas 116, Golden State 91

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

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The Dallas Mavericks hit the ground running and recorded a convincing 116-91 victory over the Golden State Warriors. Dallas took advantage of the fact that Golden State came in on the second night of a back-to-back and the fourth game in five nights. The Mavericks used an 11-0 run from the 5:32 mark of the first quarter through the 3:49 mark of the period to take a 20-10 lead. The Mavericks then led for the remainder of the contest. Darren Collison didn’t miss a shot in the first quarter. He went 4-for-4 from the field, 2-for-2 from beyond the arc and 3-for-3 from the line in the opening quarter. Collison led all players with 13 points in the first quarter. Collison finished with 18 points to go along with four rebounds and eight assists in 33 minutes.

Elton Brand posted his sixth double-double of the season (402nd career) with 11 points, a game-high-tying 11 rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks in 29 minutes off the bench against Golden State. It was his 10th double-digit rebounding effort of the season. Dallas improved to 7-3 when he pulls down 10-plus boards in a game.

The man of the night was Shawn Marion. The Matrix recorded his 12th double-double of the season (fourth in his last five games) with a season-high 26 points to go along with a game-high-tying 11 rebounds and two steals in 30 minutes against the Warriors. His previous high scoring game was 23 points, which he recorded at Oklahoma City on Feb. 4. Marion scored 20-plus points for the second time in his last three games (fourth time this season). It was his second 20-point, 10-rebound game of the year (195th career). He had 20 points and 10 boards at Orlando on Jan. 20. Prior to the game at Orlando, Marion hadn’t recorded a 20-point, 10-rebound game since Apr. 6, 2011 vs. Denver (21 points and 10 rebounds). Marion is averaging 18.8 points and 10.0 rebounds over his last five games.

Some notes before the quotes:

- With the first of two free throws at the 11:06 mark of the fourth quarter, Dirk Nowitzki passed Wilt Chamberlain (6,057) for 15th place on the NBA’s all-time free throws made list. It was the 6,058th free throw of Nowitzki’s career. He has shot 6,059-of-6,910 (.877) from the stripe for his career.

- Dallas topped 30 points in every quarter except for the second period (23 points).

- Dallas held Golden State to 36 points in the opening half (Dallas led 62-36 at the half), which marked a Mavericks’ opponent low for points in the first half this season (previous low: 39 in first half vs. Memphis Jan. 12).

- Dallas outscored Golden State 17-0 on the fast break in the first half and 29-8 in transition for the game.

Here is the quoteboard for the Dallas victory over Golden State.

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Quoteboard: Dallas Mavericks 105, Portland Trail Blazers 99

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on February 7, 2013 under Interviews | 2 Comments to Read

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The Dallas Mavericks started their do-or-die homestand with a solid 105-99 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. In his return to the team after sitting out one game due to illness, Vince Carter hit a 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left in the third quarter sparked an 18-4 run by the Mavericks that saw them turn a five-point deficit (82-77) into a nine-point advantage (95-86) with 4:41 to go in the game. He tallied 17 points in 25 minutes off the bench. Carter scored 17-plus points for the fifth time in his last eight games.

With the win, coach Rick Carlisle recorded his 500th career win against the Blazers on Wednesday. He improved to 500-353, .586, all-time in the regular season. He became the 28th coach in NBA history to reach the milestone. He is in his fifth season with Dallas and is now 219-142 (.607) all-time with the club. Carlisle, who recorded his 500th victory in his 853rd game, became the 11th-fastest coach in NBA history to reach 500 wins. He also became the 16th coach with 500 wins and an NBA title.

Quick notes before the quotes:

- Dallas handed Portland just its second loss of the season when leading after three (Portland moved to 17-2 when leading going into the fourth quarter). Dallas improved to 4-22 this season in games they trailed at the end of the third quarter.

- Dallas moved to 9-23 in games where they fell behind by at least 10 points.

- Dallas held Portland to 38 points in the second half after giving up 61 in the first half. They also held Damian Lillard to only four points in the second half after he went off for 15 points in the first half.

- The Mavericks outshot the Blazers 6-of-10 (.600) to 1-of-14 (.071) from beyond the arc in the second half. Portland shot 9-of-16 (.563) from deep in the first half, while Dallas went 4-of-10 (.400) from beyond the arc before intermission.

- O.J. Mayo totaled 20-plus points for the third time in his last four games (20th time this season). Dallas is now 13-7 this season when he scores at least 20 points. He led the Mavericks in scoring for the 23rd time this year.

- Shawn Marion recorded his 11th double-double of the season (415th career) and his third in his last four games with 13 points and a game-high-tying 10 rebounds in 31 minutes.

- Dirk is working on a beard (explanation is coming later). #GoatfaceDrillah

Here is the quoteboard for the Dallas victory over Portland.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 91, Oklahoma City Thunder 112

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

flood

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.

  • I spent most of the game watching and rewatching plays that involved O.J. Mayo (eight points, six assists). His five turnovers were inexcusable. After a rough stretch in December and a horrible game against Miami to start the year, Mayo seemed to get his turnovers under control. Over this road trip, however, he managed to turn the ball over just under four times a game. He started this game with a turnover when he didn’t see Kevin Durant in the passing lane on the game’s second possession. His final turnover occurred when he lost the ball on an out of bounds play. These turnover are due to lack of focus and when Mayo isn’t focused he really hurts the Mavericks.
  • There should be no question why Vince Carter was not traded recently to the Grizzlies during the Memphis-Toronto trade talks. He’s simply too important. Since Dallas does not seem to have a functional back up point guard, his passing ability is necessary to the Dallas bench. That he can get off a shot whenever he chooses is also vital. The offense bogged down with alarming regularity against the Thunder with no one able to get to the rim.
  • Dirk is now 11 for 41 from the field in the three games he’s played against the Thunder. It’s easy to read into this, though. The first game he shot 3 for 11, which was one of his first games back from his surgery. The second game Dirk shot 4 for 19, and still looked to be missing his legs. This third game he was forced to take a number of low percentages looks late in the shot clock because Dallas was having trouble getting any sort of clean look at the basket.
  • Bernard James set a new career high with four blocks to go along with his two points and six rebounds. His timing is really impressive.
  • The quiet dominance of Kevin Durant was on full display against Dallas. 19 points on 11 shots, 10 rebounds, and four assists in only 28 minutes of action. That he’s only 24 is simply unfair.
  • Not to continue to pick on Mayo, but his understanding of team defense is non-existent. In the second quarter he was guarding Kevin Martin (17 points) who was on the weak side wing. Kevin Durant was on the other wing, with the ball. Martin made a simple back cut and Durant found him wide open under the goal for a dunk. Mayo had no idea Martin had cut until it was way too late. A similar play happened a few possessions later when he got caught watching Durant. Thabo Sefolosha slipped behind Mayo and Durant found Sefolosha for a lay up which he missed. Mayo gets caught watching the ball a lot and as a result he’s often late on rotations, particularly when “helping the helper”. Helping the helper means rotating to a teammate’s defensive assignment when that teammate is forced to rotate elsewhere, often due to penetration.
  • In the first two match ups Darren Collison played very well, scoring 32 and 15 points respectively. Midway through the second quarter the Thunder opted to go very small, with Durant playing power forward. Durant switched onto Collison repeatedly during the Dallas high pick and roll action and shut down Collison, blocking his shot aggressivley on one possession. Between this and Russell Westbrook’s challenging defense, Collison stopped probing the lane early and the Dallas offense suffered.
  • Serge Ibaka (12 points, five rebounds) took and made his 8th three of the year. That’s a pretty good indication of how well the Thunder offense was clicking.
  • Mayo’s not the only one who needs a course in defensive awareness. In the second quarter Nick Collison was on the left wing being guarded by Dirk. Jae Crowder was guarding Kevin Durant, who was close to the left corner a few feet away. For some reason Crowder decided to leave Durant briefly  acting as if he was going to trap Nick Collison with Dirk. This was a really, really poor decision as Durant recognized what Crowder was thinking and cut to the basket. Collison threw a simple bounce pass between Dirk and Crowder which Durant caught and dunked it with a foul from Wright. It’s usually a good idea to not leave a MVP candidate wide open for a cut on the baseline.
  • Additionally, there was no way Brandan Wright was going to be able to block Durant as he slashed, mainly due to him being Durant, but also due to the angle Durant took to the basket. Wright has to be smarter than this. Either be in place earlier to challenge the shot better (unlikely since Wright seemed as surprised as everyone else that Durant was left open to cut) or just let the dunk go.
  • It’s interesting to watch how Darren Collison plays with contact. Against the Suns, he went into a zone late, scoring often in the fourth quarter, including one shot where he absorbed contact to finish a touch jumper. Against the Thunder he seemed to shy away from it and he missed three of his four attempts in the lane. One instance in third stands out: a posted up Dirk found a cutting Collison, who actively avoided contact in the paint and blew the layup/jump shot attempt.
  • Coach Carlisle opted to go with Mike James (two points, two turnovers) first when looking for back up point guard minutes. I cannot understand why. Mike James may offer value in a mentoring role, but I don’t see the downside of playing Roddy Beaubois (seven points, two assists). Carlisle tried James, then Dominique Jones (fifteen points) and finally gave Roddy a shot in the fourth.
  • The wealth of riches that is the Thunder bench borders on absurd. Reggie Jackson and Eric Maynor are excellent back up point options. Former number two over all pick Hasheem Thabeet is effective in limited minutes. Perry Jones was initially projected as a number one over all pick. Jeremy Lamb, who isn’t even with the team at the moment, has lottery level talent, should he ever develop. Daniel Orton, a former University of Kentucky player with John Wall and Demarcus Cousins, isn’t even able to get on the floor.
  • Dallas has an 8-19 record on the road. With 34 games yet to play this season, Dallas still has two extended road trips. Starting with the last game in February, the Mavericks play seven of eight on the road. They also have a four game during their last ten regular season games.
  • Watching how Westbrook attacks the rim is at once exhilarating and terrifying. His shot chart shows that he made it a point to get to the rim against Dallas, taking 10 of his 16 shots at the rim.
  • Outside of Bernard James, the main bright spot for Dallas was Shawn Marion’s 23 points on 10 of 14 shooting. He had everything working from the opening tip and even managed to hit a wing three, his third of the season. Strangely,  he’s hit all three of these shots in 2013 after not making any during the 2012 portion of the season.
  • The shot selection of Jae Crowder continues to confuse. Against the Thunder he shot 3 for 11, which is a little below his usual road field goal percentage of 31%. Eight of his 11 shots were well outside the paint, mostly in the 15 to 18 foot range. Beyond 10 feet, Crowder is shooting 33% for the year. I didn’t follow Crowder in college, but the stats-based community was excited to see him land in Dallas. I cannot imagine the role of jump shooting wing was the vision for him.
  • Strange that Dahntay Jones only saw eight minutes of action, all of it in garbage time. I assume Carlisle thought Crowder’s strength might have made a difference on Durant, but I would have liked to seen Jones get a crack at defending Durant. Jones comes with the added bonus that he doesn’t take as many maddening shots as Crowder does.
  • Part of why Brandan Wright (four points, seven rebounds) is a marginal player on the Dallas bench is his inability to set screens consistently in the pick and roll. Its not that he doesn’t want to, but his frame is so slight he does not provide any sort of obstacle when the Dallas opponent has athletic defenders. This was illistrated in the second quarter when O.J. Mayo and Wright tried to run a pick and roll three or four times. The Thunder hedge man was able to deter Mayo and the man guarding Mayo was able to step over Wright’s screen in no time. Finally, Mayo picked up his dribble and made an errant pass which Kevin Martin picked off.
  • There was technical assessed to Kendrick Perkins (seven points, seven rebounds) in the second quarter. Play had stopped due to a Dirk foul on Russell Westbrook. Perkins made a point to seek out and body up to Jae Crowder, who had apparently talked a little trash to Perkins after hitting a shot on the ensuing possession. Crowder talking trash was stupid itself, but for Perkins to decide it warranted him playing the tough guy and getting a technical foul is silly. Oklahoma City was up 25 at that point. I do understand not taking guff, but that was poor judgement.
  • Oddly enough, Dallas still has a 19.3% chance of making the playoffs this year according to the Hollinger Playoff Odds predictor.

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

 

Pocket Pair

Posted by Ian Levy on January 31, 2013 under Commentary | 10 Comments to Read

051:365 Magic Pair!

This has been an incredibly turbulent season for the Mavericks from a player personnel standpoint. They faced their first 27 games without Dirk Nowtizki, and with just five other returning players on the roster. An NBA roster has 15 slots, but the Mavericks have already used 19 different players this season, not including Delonte West — with whom the Mavericks parted ways before the season began. Each week it seems there is a new addition to be welcomed to the fold, bringing with them the warm tidings of hope.

Since he took over in Dallas, Rick Carlisle has proved repeatedly that managing personnel is one of his greatest coaching strengths. He has been innovative and progressive in managing his lineups and always seems to pull the most from each of his players. This season however, putting the pieces together has been a constant challenge. No matter how he arranges them, they don’t seem to fit together quite as uniformly as they have in the past, and the image never becomes totally clear. I’m personally of the opinion that it’s because these pieces don’t all come from the same puzzle, and that no matter what five-man unit Carlisle runs out onto the floor, some part of it will be a hasty Spackle job trying to hold back the rising tide of flood waters. However, I thought it might be interesting to look at the different lineup foundations he’s tried by examining his success (and lack thereof) with various two-man combinations.

The visualization below lets you look at all the different two-man combinations the Mavericks have used for at least 100 minutes this season. Unfortunately, to create all the combinations I had to place several players on both axes, which can make for a slightly confusing view. The size of each square represents the number of minutes that pairing played. The color represents that pairing’s Net Rating, or point differential per 100 possessions. If you hover over any of the squares you can also see that combination’s Offensive Rating and Defensive Rating. The filters below let you include or eliminate pairings based on any of those variables.

MavsShots

***

The three least efficient areas to shoot from are inside the paint (but not in the restricted area), from mid-range and straight ahead three-pointers. Altogether, 63.7% of this lineup’s shot attempts come from those three areas. Going back to my shot-selection metric from two weeks ago, the shot selection of this lineup gives them an XPPS of 0.988, where the league average is 1.047. They feature above-average mid-range shooters, but are using that weapon to a fault. Above-average ability isn’t manifesting in above-average success, and their Actual Points Per Shot is an even lower 0.936. From an outsider’s perspective, this group seems like they may be fundamentally incompatible offensively, even with Nowitzki’s eventual improvement taken into account.

Although you never like to see anyone injured, Kaman’s concussion offers the possibility for an interesting experiment. Kaman has had a solid individual season putting up 18.8 points per 36 minutes, the second highest of his career, on a TS% of 53.3, his highest since 2008-2009. However, his rebound percentage is the lowest since his rookie season and the Mavericks have generally struggled when he’s on the floor. Dallas’ defense is 3.6 points worse per 100 possessions with Kaman in the mix, a margin that’s ultimately not all that surprising. However, the Mavs’ offense is also 2.9 points worse per 100 possessions with Kaman involved. Turning back to the visualization above, we see that Kaman is featured in 12 different pairings, only two of which have outscored the opposition. Those two — with Brandan Wright and with Jae Crowder — have played a combined 343 minutes, 44 of which are overlapped.

Much of Carlisle’s rotation work this season has felt like tinkering around the edges. As long as they’ve been healthy, the foundational pieces of Kaman, Nowitzki, Mayo and Marion have been largely cemented in place. With Kaman out, Carlisle will be forced to manipulate his foundation, and there is an opportunity for Brandan Wright and Bernard James to find their way back into the regular rotation in a significant way. Both Wright and James have been featured in several successful (albeit scarcely used) pairings, and I can’t help but feel that they are under-utilized assets. Neither player is comfortable away from the basket on offense and each would give the Mavericks a very different look than with Brand or Kaman alongside Nowitzki. When we talk about spacing issues we are usually referring to a team with a lack of outside shooters, allowing the defense to clog the paint. In this case I think the Mavericks can actually improve their spacing by removing overly-willing outside shooters; the insertion of James or Wright will force the defense to expand their focus and defend more of the floor, more vigorously.

The visualization also makes it seem that there could be potential benefits in increased roles for Vince Carter and Jae Crowder. Carter has done tremendous work in keeping the second-unit offense afloat, but maybe it’s time to let him work long more court time with Nowitzki. His ability to work inside and out, particularly as a post-up threat, seems like it could also alleviate some of the one-dimensional reliance on the mid-range jumpshot. It would be a difficult pill to swallow, but perhaps Mayo would be better off swapping places with Carter. Moving to the bench might feel like a step backwards for Mayo and could have significant impacts on team chemistry, but at this point the Mavs’ current rotation isn’t doing much for the team’s present or future.

In addition to his work for The Two Man Game, Ian Levy is the author of Hickory High, and a contributor to Indy CornrowsHardwood Paroxysm, HoopChalk and ProBasketballDraft. You can follow Ian on Twitter at @HickoryHigh.

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 104, Portland Trailblazers 106

Posted by Kirk Henderson on January 30, 2013 under Previews | Read the First Comment

LongRoadtoGreatness

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.

  • Luck matters a lot more than we’d like to admit in close games. After all, perhaps Dallas would not have been in this game late in the fourth without a desperation Darren Collison bank three, two missed free throws from Nic Batum, or a ridiculous high, arching pass from Shawn Marion which led to a Dirk Nowitzki three pointer. Of course, that the Mavericks let a 21 point lead evaporate in 13 minutes during the third and fourth quarters is baffling. As is the fact that they gave up 15 offensive rebounds. Then, there’s also the small-ball late game line up Carlisle has opted with in close games (Collison, O.J. Mayo, Vince Carter, Dirk, and Shawn Marion) that just does not work. This was the line up with 1:15 left in the fourth with the Mavs up 101-96. Turnovers (four in the final two minutes, three alone from Mayo) due to terrible recognition and an inability to stop Portland’s offense saw Portland score nine points in 71 seconds to tie the game with four seconds remaining. The ensuing offensive foul call on Mayo was just bad luck; a high speed play that was simply called incorrectly due to human error. But a team this far gone from the playoff hunt needs luck, and the Mavericks have lost far too many close games this season. We can’t write them off just yet, but that time may be drawing near.
  • Chris Kaman is out indefinitely with a concussion. While we here at the Two Man Game wish him a speedy recovery, we’ve found out over the last few years that concussions can often be challenging to both diagnose and recover from. Over the last three weeks our parent blog, ESPN’s Truehoop, has published a series of articles about head injuries under the title “Working Bodies”. The first entry is an overview of head injuries and basketball, the second is Brian Scalabrine’s concussion tale, which prompted other players to share their concussion stories for the third entry. All are worth checking out.

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 110, Phoenix Suns 95

Posted by Connor Huchton on January 28, 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.

  • The Mavericks’ win on Sunday night could be described as a story of beginnings and endings (and that’s how I’ll describe it).
  • The starting unit began the game well, on the heels of precise ball movement and an active Shawn Marion (9-19 FG, 18 points, nine rebounds, five assists), and finished equally adeptly, as Dirk Nowitzki (7-14 FG, 18 points, seven rebounds) closed out the fourth quarter with the scoring precision of, well, Dirk Nowitzki.
  • Bernard James (1-2 FG, two points, three rebounds, 11 minutes) started the game at center for the Mavericks and performed well enough, though James’ 11 minutes may be indicative of the move’s dual purpose as a means of motivating Chris Kaman (2-4 FG, six points, five rebounds, two turnovers, 11 minutes). Neither James or Kaman served as part of the best pairing with Dirk, however.
  • That distinction lies with Elton Brand (6-10 FG, 12 points, three rebounds, 17 minutes), as it has much of the time in recent weeks.
  • I’d be remiss to write any further without mentioning that Dirk passed Allen Iverson for 18th all-time on the NBA’s scoring list. Well done, Dirk.
  • And hopefully his ascension towards further tiers of that list continues.
  • Though their numbers weren’t gaudy, the Mavericks’ guards deserve credit for a job admirably done. O.J. Mayo (4-9 FG, eight points, six assists), Darren Collison (3-7, eight points, five assists), Dahntay Jones (4-5 FG, 11 points), Vince Carter (5-8 FG, 2-3 3PT, 15 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals), and Rodrigue Beaubois (3-7 FG, eight points, three assists, three rebounds) collectively played quite well, and their overall decision-making radiated excellency.
  • That excellent decision-making propelled the Mavericks to 26 assists and only 13 turnovers, good for an aesthetically pleasing 2:1 ratio.
  • All 13 active Mavericks earned playing time, which in this case was indicative of a comfortable win.
  • Another key to the Mavericks’ victory was how well they spaced the floor.
  • Guards were able to make post passes into feasibly-sized windows, and areas of the floor were often carefully sectioned off for the sake of Shawn Marion, Dirk, or cutting guards (Mayo, Beaubois, etc.) on their way to the basket.
  • That element of movement and spacing is absolutely crucial for a team that’s been frequently mired in offensive stagnancy.
  • Four Mavericks’ centers played significant minutes tonight, which give some insight into the current revolving door of Mavericks’ center minutes.
  • Brandan Wright (1-3 FG, four points, three rebounds, three assists) was the fourth center used tonight. He first saw minutes in the fourth quarter and helped spark a momentous run with keen passes near the basket and an important finish.
  • Wright was also the only Maverick to make less than 42% of his shots, another mark of a thoroughly efficient offensive performance.

Quoteboard: San Antonio Spurs 113, Dallas Mavericks 107

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on January 26, 2013 under Interviews | Be the First to Comment

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San Antonio hit the ground running and never looked back as they had a convincing 113-107 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. The Spurs are now on a seven-game winning streak. Spurs big man DeJuan Blair went 8-of-9 from the field in the opening half and led all scorers with 17 points in 11 first-half minutes. Blair finished with a season-high 22 points on the night. His previous high was 19 vs. Denver on Nov. 17, 2012. Tony Parker had a game-high 23 points and a game-high 10 assists.

Roddy Beaubois tallied a season-high 19 points to go along with three rebounds, two assists and a block in 16 minutes off the bench against the Spurs on Friday. His previous high was 11 points in season-opener at the L.A. Lakers Oct. 30. It was his highest scoring game since Mar. 13, 2012 vs. Washington (19 points). As ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon noted during the game, the 19 points Roddy had against the Spurs was more than he did during the month of December (15). Before the game against the Spurs, the last time Roddy was the outright leading scorer for Dallas was March 2, 2012 on the road against New Orleans. He had 25 in the loss to the Hornets.

Elton Brand started at center in place of Chris Kaman. It was his 14th start of the season, 844th career, but his first since Dec. 6, 2012 at Phoenix. It was also just his second start at the center position. The Mavericks used their 16th different starting lineup of the season in their 43rd game of the year. Brand totaled eight points to go along with a season-high-tying 13 rebounds in 25 minutes. He grabbed 13 boards for the second time in his last three games, 13 vs. Oklahoma City on Jan. 18. He also pulled down 10-plus boards for the third time in his last four games, seventh time this season. Brand failed to score in double figures for the first time in his last six games. He is averaging 12.2 points and 9.5 rebounds over the last six games.

Here is the quoteboard for the loss to the Spurs.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 107, San Antonio Spurs 113

Posted by Kirk Henderson on January 25, 2013 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

GoldenSpurs

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.

  • If one was to look at the final score without knowing anything about the game, it appears to be a real improvement from earlier Mavs-Spurs match ups. It was not. That the Mavericks whittled a 26 point Spurs lead to four is nice, but that they were down 26 at all is cause for alarm. With Tim Duncan out, Gregg Popovich not coaching, and Manu Ginobli only playing eight minutes, Dallas should have been able to stay with the Spurs. Instead, team defense was atrocious and the offense stagnant for most of the game.
  • I’m starting to get concerned about Dirk Nowitzki’s role. While he had 14 shot attempts against the Spurs, he often goes very long stretches of time without an attempt. Dirk took one shot to start the second quarter, then didn’t shoot again until just over a minute left in the period. While he was on the bench for some of that 10 minute stretch, I believe Dirk should be the focal point for consistent stretches as opposed to short outbursts. He is making a concerted effort to get his teammates involved, as evidenced by his four assists in the first quarter. But outside of the other starters and Chris Kaman, I don’t like Dirk passing up a shot to feed Mike James on the baseline as he did with 6:45 left in the fourth.
  • Dallas could not find an effective pick and roll coverage against Tony Parker (23 points, 10 assists) or Gary Neal (18 points, six assists). Carlisle attempted to trap the ball handler with Kaman in first half, which resulted in DeJuan Blair (22 points on 10 of 13 shooting) going off as the roll man. Both ball handlers were easily able to pass around any trap attempt.  In the second half, Carlisle elected to have Darren Collison (who still seems shocked every time he runs into a screen) trail Parker over the top of screens and Parker responded by hitting a variety of really tough shots.
  • Well would you look at that, a Roddy Beaubois (19 points on 6 of 8 shooting, and five free throws) sighting! He scored more points against the Spurs than he did the entire month of December (15). It’d be a boost for Dallas if they could somehow get some burn from Roddy. He’s incredibly athletic and instinctual, and his play can change the pace for a Dallas team that can be athletically challenged, particularly in the half court.
  • Someone needs to have an intervention for Jae Crowder and his shot selection. Every single shot he attempted was 17 feet or farther from the rim. In the first quarter he pulled up to take an uncontested jumper on a fast break when he had a clear attempt at the rim. He tried to make up for this in the second period by attacking the rim on a fast break, only to commit a turnover by running over Manu Ginobli. Later in the quarter he stole the ball from Tiago Splitter after a rebound and decided to shoot a three while at least two of his teammates were not yet past half court. In the fourth, when Dallas was making a fast and furious run, Crowder shot a contested 17 footer from the baseline that caused Jeff Van Gundy to question whether Crowder understands his role on the team.  He missed every single shot until a prayer three fell when the game was out of reach. Jae needs to spend a little more time modeling his game after Shawn Marion and a little less emulating Josh Howard.
  • If Dallas hopes to make the playoffs, losing games against short handed teams is no longer an option. Currently, eleventh in the West, Dallas still has an outside chance to make the playoffs. Portland and Minnesota are stumbling and the Lakers manage to keep lowering the bar. If the Mavericks take care of business and either Utah or Houston stumble down the stretch, the eight seed is still in reach. Some luck will be involved, but in order for that to be a factor, Dallas has to close out these winnable games.

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.