Lessons of Youth

Posted by Jonathan Tjarks on December 13, 2012 under Commentary | 3 Comments to Read

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Jonathan Tjarks is the managing editor of SB Nation Dallas. He writes about basketball and all that it implies at RealGM and SB Nation, and is a guest columnist here at The Two Man Game. Follow Jonathan on Twitter at @JonathanTjarks.

Over the last decade, the Mavericks and the Spurs have been the most consistent winners in the NBA. However, while San Antonio is renowned for an excellent scouting and player development operation, Dallas has always preferred getting veterans in either trades and free agency. For years, Dirk Nowitzki’s individual excellence and Cuban’s checkbook have papered over their inability to develop young players. In 2012, those chickens have come home to roost.

When Deron Williams decided to stay in Brooklyn, Dallas had to scramble just to fill out their roster. Aside from Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion, they had no one else they could rely on to fill consistent minutes. The result of that turnover has been an unbelievable lack of continuity; with their two star forwards dealing with injuries, there are many stretches of games where all five Mavs on the court were wearing different jerseys a year ago.

It’s not a coincidence that Rick Carlisle has used 10 different starting lineups in their first 21 games, but nothing represents the Mavs’ desperation more than the  in-season signings of Derek Fisher, Troy Murphy and Eddy Curry. All three have names familiar to basketball fans, but it’s been years since any of them has been a functional NBA player. Curry hasn’t had a PER above 10 since 2008, Fisher since 2009 and Murphy since 2010. Since Dallas released them, neither Curry nor Murphy has gotten even a sniff from another NBA team.

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The Rundown, Volume VIII

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on December 10, 2012 under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment

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The Rundown is back. Every Monday, The Rundown will chronicle the week that was for the Mavericks, as well as let you know what is coming up for the boys in blue, with a unique spin. Simply put, it is your Monday catch-up on all things with the Dallas Mavericks.

Don’t look now, but the Mavericks are actually on a win streak! The Mavericks are back at .500 and have won back-to-back games for the first time since early November. The start to the week wasn’t great, but Dallas handled their business on the road to finish it strong. The lone blemish for the week was quite gruesome, but the victories might have shed some light on some key situations for the team in order for them to be successful for the weeks ahead.

Did THAT Really Happen?

- The game against the Clippers felt like an in-game highlight package for the Clippers. They outscored Dallas 62-30 in fast break points. Dunk after dunk rained down on the head of the Mavericks and they simply just didn’t have an answer. Dallas needs to avoid getting into too many of these games where they are blown out of the water. There has been a culture of winning and success within the franchise since Dirk Nowitzki, Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson have been firmly entrenched in their respective positions. That culture has been a major attraction for players when they arrive in Dallas. The team can’t afford to let a culture of losing become acceptable. They have to fight back and respond when the times get tough.

- O.J. Mayo did his thing in the fourth quarter against the Phoenix Suns. Phoenix was able to create a comeback effort to get the scored tied at 87 with just under a minute to go, but Mayo saved the day with a clutch 21-foot jumper for points 22 and 23 of the evening for him. It was very good to see the Mavericks give Mayo the freedom to work in isolation in a crunch time situation. The Mavericks need an identity while Dirk Nowitzki is hurt, and Mayo’s versatility as a shooter, passer and scorer make him the ideal weapon to use in those situations.

- The win against the Suns did come at a price as both Shawn Marion and Chris Kaman were injured late in the game. Marion injured his right groin and Kaman turned his right ankle. Marion missed his sixth game of the year due to injury (he missed five games due to injury over the last two seasons). Kaman gutted it out during the game against Houston. It appeared he tweaked the ankle in the second quarter, but continued to play. Reports indicated that his ankle was a nice shade of purple after the game. We’ll have to see how he can respond going forward.

- Dallas had to use their 10th different starting lineup in the game against Houston. Through 20 games, the Mavericks have had a different lineup in half of the games. Rick Carlisle has said that it doesn’t matter who starts games, but I think it would be a major priority for him to build some continuity in terms of a starting lineup and rotation. That’s not to say that it’s entirely his fault that the team has had 10 different starting lineups. Injuries definitely deter the team from trying to build that continuity. It’s not just an issue for the Mavericks as injuries have been running rampant around the league. The Mavericks have to hope they’re getting this out of their system now and things will be back to normal for them once Dirk Nowitzki returns (whenever that will be).

Box Score Revelations

- New Maverick Derek Fisher totaled 15 points in his second game as a Maverick against the Clippers on 12/5. He scored 11 of his 15 points in the third quarter. It matched his season-high for the 2011-12 season (15, L.A. Lakers at Dallas, 2/22/12). While the Mavericks still try to figure out what Darren Collison can actually be, it’s good to know that Fisher can provide an influence on the team in the locker room as well as on the actual floor.

- In the say what department, Former Maverick Lamar Odom grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds and had four points, two steals and two assists in the Clippers’ victory over the Mavericks. Odom didn’t have a double-digit rebounding game during his brief time in Dallas during the 2011-12 season. Odom is clearly still a mess (did you see his botched layup attempt??), so it wasn’t good to see Odom literally stumble into a productive night against the Mavericks.

- Brandan Wright made a rare appearance in the game against the Phoenix Suns and delivered in a big way. Wright scored a season-high 16 points in 23 minutes against the Suns. Before the mop up duty action he got in Los Angeles the night before, Wright hadn’t played in the team’s previous three games. Prior to the game against Phoenix, Wright played a total of 47 minutes in the Mavericks’ previous 10 games (recorded 5 DNP-CDs in that span) before his 16-point effort at Phoenix on 12/6. It was his seventh double-figure scoring game of the season (he scored 10-plus points in each of Dallas’ first six games of the season: at L.A. Lakers 10/30-at New York 11/9). He started the game against the Houston Rockets and finished with eight points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Rick Carlisle might be giving Wright the Roddy Beaubois treatment from Roddy’s rookie year. The coach might be protecting Wright in certain situations and playing him in known situations where the athletic big man can thrive. It’ll be something to monitor going forward.

- Jae Crowder went 2-of-7 from the field in the game against the Houston Rockets. Crowder has gone 4-of-30 (13.3 percent) over his last five games. T0 say the rookie has hit a shooting slump or the rookie wall in terms of shooting would be an understatement. To his credit, he’s not letting it blend into the other facets of his game, and Rick Carlisle still likes the approach the rookie is bringing to the game. If Carlisle didn’t like the approach, Crowder wouldn’t be playing. The rookie just has to keep his head down and continue working, sticking to the process and things will turn back around.

Check Your Calendar

- The Mavericks will have a rare home game during this brutal run of road games as they host the Sacramento Kings on Monday night. This needs to be a momentum building game for the Mavericks as the Kings are one of the worst teams in the entire league. Outside of DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento doesn’t really have anything else in terms of a consistent threat. Despite two road wins, ff Dallas loses this game, there will be major questions that need to be answered.

- Dallas heads back out on the road for the rest of the week with the first stop in Boston. The Mavericks will get to see Jason Terry in Celtics green for the first time since Terry and the Mavericks parted ways during the offseason. The two teams have had some classic matchups over the last two seasons, with the Mavericks getting their share of come-from-behind victories. It will likely be an emotional evening, but this does present a game that is winnable for the Mavericks. Boston will be well-rested for the game as this will be their first game they play since their home-and-home matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.

- Dallas leaves Boston to head to Toronto to take on the Raptors on Friday evening. Toronto, like Sacramento, is one of the worst teams in the league. The Mavericks handled their business in shootout fashion when the Raptors came into Dallas on  11/7 with a 109-104 victory. This will be the first game of a back-to-back for the Mavericks. Every game on the road is a challenge, but a matchup against the Raptors should be one where the Mavericks can continue to fix their road woes.

- The week wraps up for Dallas as they finish up their back-to-back with a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minnesota on Saturday night. The Wolves recorded a 90-82 victory over the Mavericks in Dallas on 11/12. To date, the game against Minnesota provides the Mavericks with season low for points in a game and points in an opening quarter (17). The Wolves will have more ammunition on Saturday night as Kevin Love has returned to the team. He’s arguably the best power forward in the league, at the moment. He will present an issue in terms of his versatile scoring and relentless attack on the glass. This will also be the second night of a back-to-back for Minnesota as they play in New Orleans on Friday night.

BG’s Baller of the Week

Baller status has been granted to Sha…I was ready to give it Shawn Marion, but then he went down with his injury. The Mavericks need the Matrix to be healthy. Instead, baller status HAS to be granted to O.J. Mayo. His name is Ovinton J’Anthony, but you can call him Juice. Mayo is officially out of his shooting slump as he shot 50.9 percent from the field, 50.0 percent from 3-point range and averaged 24.7 points/game for the Mavericks during their three games last week.

The display he put on in Houston was nothing short of brilliant. He tied his career high with 40 points in the victory. You have to go back to 11/1/09 as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies to find Mayo’s other 40-point performance. The difference between that game and Saturday’s game was the fact his team won this time. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only one other Mavericks starting guard in the last 18 seasons has scored 40-plus points in a game: Michael Finley dropped 42 at Detroit on 11/27/02. Mayo totaled 30-plus points for the third time in Dallas’ first 20 games of the season. Before Mayo, no starting guard had even reached that plateau in a game for Dallas since Jason Terry on 2/8/10 (36 at Golden State). Mayo also became the first Maverick other than Dirk Nowitzki to score 40 points in a game since Rodrigue Beaubois tallied 40 off the bench at Golden State on 3/27/10. Simply put, Mayo put on a clinic in Houston. I promise, I’ll show myself out the door here in a bit.

The Mavericks have been trying to find an answer in terms of an identity while Dirk has been out. I firmly believe the jumper Mayo hit at the end of the Phoenix game triggered his career-tying night in Houston. Confidence is there for Mayo, and he’s taking control as the leader for the team as a scorer. He’s seventh in the league in scoring at 20.9 points/game and shooting 48.2 percent from the field and 52.3 percent from 3. With 20 games as a sample size, the idea of Mayo’s shooting being cute is becoming an afterthought and you might have to start considering him as being one of the more efficient shooters the league has this season. The anticipation continues to grow to see Mayo and Dirk on the floor together. It appears Mayo has stuck to his word and has been a relentless worker and become a strong leader for the team. Going back to when they lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Playoffs, the Mavericks wanted to find an option that could take the pressure off Dirk. It might not have been the name they wanted, but Mayo is doing everything in his power to be that man for the Mavericks.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 116, Houston Rockets 109

Posted by Kirk Henderson on December 9, 2012 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

Sunshine

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.

  • Though I always enjoy watching basketball, this was the most fun I’ve had watching a Mavs game in weeks. The battle of the former sixth men O.J. Mayo (40 points, eight rebounds) and James Harden (39 points, nine assists, six rebounds) was fantastic and highly entertaining. Though Mayo has been the best Maverick this season, I’ve still had a number of concerns, particularly if Dallas decides to make a long term offer to him in the off season. With each passing game he is putting those concerns to rest. He’s coming off screens better; in the first quarter he came off a Wright screen near the elbow, caught the pass from Fisher, and made a decisive move to the bucket for a lay in. He’s also reading attempted traps out of the pick and roll like a point guard; in the second quarter the Rockets attempted to trap him high and he found Kaman with a ridiculous bounce pass between the defenders. O.J. Mayo as play maker, whether taking shots or moving the ball, has been a delight to watch. Scoring 16 points in each of the first and final frames was also very impressive.
  • Earlier in the week, Tom Ziller wrote a piece discussing we haven’t seen many 50 point games in recent years. When James Harden put up 30 points in the first half (along with five rebounds and five assists) I wondered whether we’d be in for that rare feat. Dallas holding Harden to nine points in the second half answered that question, but one can still be amazed at Harden’s level of play. He had 39 points on 17 shots. That is shades of Dirk in the 2011 playoffs against Oklahoma City, where he scored 48 points on 15 shots. Harden’s efficiency is incredible.
  • The Mavericks have finally changed how they are defending the pick and roll. Prior to signing Derek Fisher, Dallas was having the man guarding the screener show high and then recover. When the screens were set at the top of the key this would force guys like Chris Kaman and Elton Brand to try to recover as their man rolled to the basket. This is a lot of ground to make up quickly for guys who aren’t as athletic as they used to be. Teams picked Dallas apart for weeks. This game in particular I noticed that the man guarding the ball handler either went under the screen or went over the top without any Maverick showing or trying to trap. Results were mixed, to say the least as Harden picked the defense apart in the first three quarters. That said, I’m glad they are trying different coverages simply because it was getting frustrating watching Kaman, Brand, and Sarge struggle to recover.
  • The crunch time line up tonight was fascinating: Darren Collison, Derek Fisher, O.J. Mayo, Vince Carter, and Brandan Wright, with Dahntay Jones subbing offense/defense for Carter if the possession allowed it. Two Man Game founder/editor Rob Mahoney was an early adopter of basketball coaches and analysts getting rid of the classic positional assignment. The above line up is written from PG-SG-SF-PF-C as we would traditionally assign positions, but calling Carter a power forward is a laughable proposition. Carlisle masterfully executed “going small” for the final six minutes of the game; Dallas spread the floor and Collison and Mayo were allowed to make plays. Houston also chose to remove their best rim defender in Omer Asik, opening things up for Dallas. While Mayo clearly dominated late, my favorite play was the slip screen by Wright, followed by a beautiful feed from Collison, and the Wright dunk.
  • Dallas should hope Chris Kaman (20 points in 19 minutes) is okay. He seemed to aggravate the same ankle which he turned against the Suns on Thursday. While I think that everyone would like to see Kaman establish himself in the paint before going to his jumper, the Rockets gave him space early and Kaman took advantage of the opportunity. Mayo is and should be the story of the game, but Kaman’s steady play in these last two wins has been vital.
  • Carlisle opted to go zone in spots in the third quarter and it threw Houston off of their offensive momentum in a big way.  Houston committed 19 turnovers on the evening to the 12 of Dallas. Many of Houston’s turnovers were unforced and Dallas was able to hang around and kept game from getting out of hand. Houston oddly opted to take the ball out of James Harden’s hands during these zone possessions, instead opting to attack with ball movement and open jump shots, and it clearly got Houston out of their offensive rhythm.
  • For the second game in a row Carlisle opted to stick with Darren Collison (12 points, five assists) during a close game. Collison was clearly unhappy with the signing of Fisher and would prefer to start, but he’s playing fairly well within the confines Carlisle has set up for him. He’s still shooting the ball poorly relative to his historical statistics, but perhaps with time those shots might start falling.

Kirk is a member of the Two Man Game family. Follow him on twitter @KirkSeriousFace for ranting about Dallas basketball, TV, movies, video games, and his dog.

 

Thermodynamics: Week 6

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on December 6, 2012 under Commentary, Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

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

Don’t adjust your interwebs, I’m temporarily filling in for Travis Wimberly with the weekly Thermodynamics. He’ll be back in the mix next week.

It proved to be a light week for the Mavericks as they popped back into town for a game against the lowly Detroit Pistons, then went out on the road to take on the Los Angeles Clippers. That being said, the Mavericks are not immune to having hot and cold moments (maybe more on one side than the other). There’s never a dull moment for the Mavericks, so let’s dig in and see what is and isn’t working under the hood for the Mavericks.

Week 6 (Pistons, @Clippers)

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Steady as He Goes

Posted by Brian Rubaie on under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

SteadyAsHeGoes

The decision to make space on the roster for Derek Fisher by cutting Troy Murphy was largely met with guarded (if very guarded) optimism. The choice to start Fisher over the promising Darren Collison, however, was a bit more controversial. Grantland’s Zach Lowe summarized this sentiment well on Twitter by stating simply: “I trust Rick Carlisle, but this is getting weird.”

Carlisle certainly isn’t infallible, but his decision to start Fisher is the right one — if only because the Mavs are preparing for Dirk Nowitzki’s return to the lineup and Fisher will make for a better fit than Collison. Dallas’ starting offense shows impressive flashes with Collison at the helm, but it their successes are subject to a wild inconsistency, attributable in part to Collison’s turnover rate. Collison has a bright future in Dallas or elsewhere, but he better fulfills Jason Terry’s old role than Jason Kidd’s.

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Dallas Mavericks 90, Los Angeles Clippers 112

Posted by Connor Huchton on under Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

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.

  • It’s difficult to say 22 things about a game as disheartening as Thursday night’s debacle, but I’ll do my best.
  • The Clippers executed a perfect storm of exposing the Mavericks’ weaknesses. The Mavericks failed noticeably in the following areas: perimeter defense, three-point shooting, rebounding, turnover control, and any sense of cohesion systemically on the defensive end. So, pretty much everything.
  • The Mavericks even squandered an unlikely effort from Derek Fisher (15 points), who was the only Maverick other than Vince Carter (16 points, seven rebounds) who appeared comfortable with his jumper. Oh, what a journey it’s been over the last few weeks.
  • O.J. Mayo’s recent shooting struggles continued, but his inevitable regression shouldn’t worry the team too greatly. This was always bound to happen, and Mayo couldn’t carry the team forever. As long as he continues to make threes at a reasonable rate, he’ll remain the team’s most productive player.
  • What should worry the Mavericks is how thoroughly inconsistent and unsure Darren Collison’s (8 points, 2-5 FG, two assists, five turnovers) recent play has been. Collison is still the Mavericks’ best point guard option and has enough talent to maintain a competent offense, but he seems to have lost some sense of confidence in recent weeks, compounded with a lack of aggression that has submarined his production.
  • With Collison playing as he did, Fisher deserved every minute he played tonight.
  • Jae Crowder is being asked to do far too much for a second-rounder in his rookie season, as was apparent tonight. Crowder has earned a spot in the rotation, but he’s not able to sustain success from game to game, especially when thrust into a starter’s role.
  • 13 Mavericks played tonight, which usually indicates a blowout of some kind. This wasn’t the good kind.
  • How many analytic statements is that now?
  • As poorly as he’s played this season, I’m of the belief that Rodrigue Beaubois, who played four minutes tonight, might as well get an opportunity to run the team, however briefly. Until Dirk Nowitzki returns in ____ weeks, this team lacks identity. Beaubois has enough talent to give taking a chance with minute allocation some credence, and the offense simply isn’t flowing under the direction of any other Mavericks’ point guard.
  • The ease with which Chris Paul (14 points, 13 assists) navigated through the key doomed the Mavericks from the very beginning. Very few Clippers’ baskets could be classified as ‘tough’, and Blake Griffin’s double-double (19 points, 13 rebounds) was recorded all to easily at the rim.
  • Though point guard defense isn’t overly consequential in the grand scheme of the game, it can hold a significant impact when the defensive efforts at the position are terrific or the opposite. The latter is too often true with the Mavericks’ personnel – Fisher and Collison aren’t quite Rondo and Paul in that respect.
  • I’d like to see Chris Kaman receive more opportunities in the post on nights like tonight, when little else is working, but that also requires better perimeter passing than the Mavericks showcased.
  • 123-149. That’s the record of Mavericks’ opponents this season, and an 8-10 record against that level of competition might be the most discouraging statistic of all.
  • Of course, things were not always so morbid. But winning four of the last thirteen games can certainly make one forget the 4-1 streak that preceded it.
  •  It’s interesting how much better the Mavericks have been with Derek Fisher on the floor in limited minutes thus far. According to 82games.com, the Mavericks are 23.7 points better per 48 minutes with Fisher playing.
  • Of course, further research reveals that the area where the Mavericks are significantly better with Fisher on the floor is the defensive end. Though it’s possible Derek Fisher is leading a defensive revolution, it’s highly unlikely.
  • His impact was minimal tonight in 12 minutes of playing time, but Brandan Wright likely deserves a stronger presence in the rotation. The Mavericks are simply better with him on the court – he’s part of the Mavericks’ best heavily-played lineup (Collison-Mayo-Marion-Brand-Wright), and he often outproduces his competition, though his defensive issues remain.
  • But paired with a player like Brand, who can counteract some of Wright’s deficiencies, Wright’s production is well worth its possible defensive price.
  • The Mavericks play the Suns and Kings in two of their next three games, so a couple of necessary winning performances are on the essential horizon.
  • And we made it to 22 statements. Thanks for reading.

Setting the Table: Los Angeles Clippers (Game 18)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on December 5, 2012 under Previews | Be the First to Comment

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It seems like forever and a day since there has been some basketball for Dallas. The Dallas Mavericks (8-9) are on the road to take on the Los Angeles Clippers (11-6). Starting Wednesday against the Clippers. The Mavericks will play six of their next seven games on the road (until 12/15 at Minnesota). The game at Philadelphia on 11/27 began a stretch for the Mavericks in which they will play 16-of-23 away from the American Airlines Center (at Philadelphia 11/27-at Sacramento 1/10). Dallas is 0-2 on the road thus far in the stretch.

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

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The Rundown, Volume VII

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on December 3, 2012 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

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The Rundown is back. Every Monday, The Rundown will chronicle the week that was for the Mavericks, as well as let you know what is coming up for the boys in blue, with a unique spin. Simply put, it is your Monday catch-up on all things with the Dallas Mavericks.

Turnovers, lack of chemistry and overall poor play has plagued the Mavericks over this recent stretch. To make matters worse, O.J. Mayo has hit a rough patch with his shooting. Desperate times called for desperate measures. Through it all, the Mavericks found a way to end the week on a high note. Let’s take a look at the week for that was for Dallas.

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Quoteboard: Dallas Mavericks 92, Detroit Pistons 77

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on December 2, 2012 under Interviews | Be the First to Comment

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Dallas trailed by nine (51-42), and by as many as 11 in the second quarter, but used a 25-8 run from the 9:29 mark of the third quarter through the 42.8-second mark of the period to go up by 10 (67-57). The Mavericks had their second victory of the season when trailing by at least 10 points as they won the game over the Pistons 92-77. The Mavericks held the Pistons to just 11 points in the third quarter (outscored Detroit 25-11 in the period). It marked a Dallas opponent low for points in a period this season (was 12 in fourth quarter vs. Portland 11/5/12). Detroit scored 29 points in the entire second half.

O.J. Mayo scored 24 of his game-high 27 points in the second half against the Pistons, including 16 of Dallas’ first 17 points in the third quarter. Mayo went 6-for-9 from beyond the arc, marking the third time this season that he made at least six treys in a game. With the win, Dallas improved to 5-1 on the season when Mayo scores 25-plus points in a game. It was Mayo’s ninth 20-point effort of the year. He led Dallas in scoring for the 11th time this season (includes ties). Mayo shot 9-of-16 from the field in the second half, including 6-of-9 from deep.

Elton Brand recorded his second double-double of the season (398th career) with a season-high-tying 17 points, a season-high-tying 12 rebounds and a season-best four blocks in 28 minutes vs. Detroit. He scored 17 points for the second time in his last three games (17 at Philadelphia 11/27/12).

Derek Fisher, who was signed by Dallas as a free agent on Thursday (11/29), made his Mavericks debut against the Pistons on Saturday and started at the point. He managed two points, three assists, two rebounds and two steals in 24 minutes. He grabbed the game’s first rebound, which was the 2,500th board of his career.

For the eighth year, the Dallas Mavericks partnered with American Airlines for the annual “Seats for Soldiers” event that took place on Saturday when the Mavericks played the Detroit Pistons. Mavericks season ticket holders provided a special tribute to U.S. military personnel by donating their seats to wounded soldiers. Over 100 wounded service members from Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio and other troops on reserve in the Dallas/Fort Worth area traveled to Dallas to see the Mavericks play the Pistons at American Airlines Center. Dallas Mavericks season ticket holder Neal Hawks originated the concept, and he and other front-row season ticket holders again generously donated their courtside seats for the game, valued at more than $350,000. With the win, the Mavericks improved to 7-1 (.875) all-time in “Seats for Soldiers” games.

Here is the quoteboard for the win against the Detroit Pistons.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 92, Detroit Pistons 77

Posted by Kirk Henderson on under Recaps | 3 Comments to Read

HotHand

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.

  • With 3:19 left in the second quarter the Mavericks trailed 44-33. Bryan Gutierrez tweeted “Mavs need some momentum in the worst way”. Dallas went on a 59-33 run to close out the game, leading by as many as 19 at one point, a 30 point swing at its highest.
  • Everyone should take a minute to welcome back O.J. Mayo (27 points, five rebounds) from the first few weeks of the season. What changed? Honestly, not much; his outside shot simply began to fall again. After shooting 1-for-10 from range the last three games, Mayo shot 6-for-9 tonight. He still shot an ugly 4-for-12 inside the arc; he takes too many pull up long twos that remind me of Vince Carter from last season. Mayo still has a lot of work to do; his defense is atrocious and his pick and roll game as the primary ball handler is poor for someone of his basketball IQ. Still though, when he’s shooting the ball like that, one has visions of Dirk wheeling, dealing, and kicking to an open Mayo for three.
  • A healthy round of applause for Elton Brand (17 points, 12 rebounds) is in order. While its exciting to see Mayo shoot well, seeing Brand hit those 10 to 15 foot jump shots was such a relief. Last season Brand shot a fantastic 45% clip from that section of the floor and was a big reason many were initially so excited to pair him with Dirk who would, in theory, open up the floor for Brand the way he has for so many others. Prior to tonight’s game though, Brand has shot an absurd 23% from that range. Tonight Brand hit three shots in that area and it forced the Detroit defense to close out on him, thus opening the floor for his five makes at the rim.
  • Brand’s confidence on offense bled over into his defense; his four blocks helped keep the momentum in favor of the Mavericks. Pairing him with Bernard James (six points, 3 rebounds) was a different look for Dallas in the second quarter. It’s probably a rare sight though, both Brand and James are around 6’9″ and Carlisle was looking to steal minutes while Chris Kaman was in foul trouble.
  • The Mavs shot eight free throws, making five, yet managed to win by 15. The power of the three point shot (Dallas went 11-for-25 from downtown) combined with an opponent who had trouble finding the bottom of the net (Detroit shot 34% from the field) can result in some strange statistics. Dallas cannot rely on the deep ball and needs to make a point to get to the line more often.
  • The Derek Fisher (two points, three assists) got off to a quiet statistical start. However, he made an impact with a number of decisive passes out of the pick and roll which Dallas had been missing. He seemed to work particularly well with Shawn Marion (seven points, nine rebounds, four assists), who played a fair amount of power forward due to the aforementioned Kaman foul trouble.
  • Bringing in Fisher seemed to have an interesting effect on Darren Collison (eight assists, no turnovers) who played angry and played with a purpose. It was his first game since November 16th without a turnover. I expect he takes back the starting role at some point; Carlisle needs to send the message that on this Dallas Mavericks team nothing is given and everything is earned.
  • There are still plenty of teaching moments with this squad; halfway into the third Collison took a pull up three pointer early in the shot clock. It rimmed out badly and the Pistons pushed the ball on the break and scored. Carlisle immediately called a time out and loudly yelled “What the heck was that?!” (He did not say heck). Collison was displeased at getting called out so vocally; he seems to grate a bit under Carlisle’s coaching, which is odd given his pedigree.
  • It’s really delightful to see Vince Carter (12 points, five assists) thrive the way he has in the Dallas offense this year. All six of his shots were from beyond the arc tonight, and he hit four. This opened up lanes towards the bucket and because Detroit seemed to block every other shot at the rim during half court offensive sets (they had seven for the game), Carter was able to find open Mavs when he drove, and racked up five assists in only 21 minutes of action. This is an ideal Vince Carter game for Dallas.
  • Though Dallas shot poorly (40% for the evening), that they assisted 28 of 38 made field goals is fantastic. No player, save Russell Westbrook, can move as fast as the ball. Crisp ball movement is incredibly important for the Mavs to get into a rhythm. Finding the open man instead of settling for long contested jumpers or forced shots at the rim is how Dallas can score points in a hurry even without their offensive centerpiece.
  • Chris Kaman (10 points, nine rebounds) might have been in for a big game if it weren’t for some foul trouble. He insisted on taking shots at the rim and not settling for mid range shots in the first quarter. He wasn’t really able to re-establish a rhythm in the second half, but with O.J. Mayo setting the world on fire he didn’t have to.
  • Despite the final margin, this game stood a chance of getting out of hand the other direction. The Mavs were down by 11 at one point and the Pistons, particularly Greg Monroe, simply could not buy a basket at the rim. Monroe shot a woeful 4-of-17 from the field and every single shot he took was in the paint. Had a few more of those fallen early, this game could have been a much different story.
  • The defensive effort in the third and fourth quarters were lead by Brand and Jae Crowder (four points, three steals). Crowder, in particular, played excellent post defense on Monroe and his defensive energy was a catalyst for the Mavericks dominating the fast break point differential (+22 for Dallas). However, there still needs to be some analysis done on Crowder’s offensive decision making. He was 1-for-8 from the field tonight and his three point shot selection in particular is concerning. He’s mostly open on those shots, but he’s open for a reason. He needs to take the ball to the basket in an attempt to draw contact or hit another open Maverick for a jump shot. The free throw line extended threes are of a particular concern as they rim out so badly when they are off that it often leads to a fast break opportunity for the opposing team.
  • Is Brandan Wright in Carlisle’s dog house? Tonight was his third “DNP-Coach’s Decision” in the last four games. Since the overtime loss to the Bobcats, he’s not seen action in four of the last nine games and has only seen 44 minutes of playing time in those five games.
  • It’s easy to become frustrated with Dallas, particularly with the way they’ve played in some of the blowout losses. They’ve tried every rotation combination possible. The team has shot the ball horribly at times. Rebounds are a huge issue, as are turnovers. Yet the team is missing it’s best player, is incorporating six to eight new players into the rotation, is playing two second round rookies significant minutes, and is only one game under .500 in the Western conference. Impressive, really.

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.