“Progress comes from the intelligent use of experience.”
Man, that’s a low-scoring game. It could have a little something to do with the fact that I missed the second half of the game because I had a little intramural game of my own to attend. We lost, and I am totally pissed. But that’s a story for another day.
All I have to go on are my notes from the first half, mostly because I feel a little dirty about going through the AP recap and forming my assumptions on those terms. So here are some of my thoughts from last night’s affair:
Josh Howard did not score well in the first half. He was something like 1-7 in the 1st quarter, but he did a good job of balancing his shoot-first mentality by rounding out the box score (4 assists and 3 rebounds in the first). It’s these types of quarters that can make Josh a valuable player even when he’s not scoring, and that just might be what the Mavs need. I’d rather he facilitate the flow of the offense rather than trying to be Plan B, and if he does that he just might find it even easier to get involved points-wise.
I get the feeling that when Brandon Bass sees Ryan Anderson guarding him, he salivates…no homo.
It’s about sending a message – Harris dominated Kidd in the first match-up, and this time around he wasn’t having nunnuvit. He hit three three-pointers early, all while exemplifying “letting the offense come to him.”
For what it’s worth, I thought Antoine Wright played good defense on Vince Carter in the early going. He finished the first quarter with 10 points on 5-7 shooting, but most of those were “good D, better O” moments: crazy spin moves, fadeaways, and contested attempts. Judging by his final FG% (he finished the night at 33.3%), I’m guessing it caught up to him.
Oddly enough, Devin Harris and Josh Howard ended up guarding each other a lot in the first quarter. Huh.
I’ve made note of this before, but apparently no one listens to me: zones against the Mavs do not work. The team wants to shoot jump shots and Dirk wants to operate out of the high post. So stop it, Nets, you’re just embarassing yourselves.
Dirk went nuts in the second, making up for his first quarter disappearance with 16 points. Notably, four of Dirk’s points came off of uncharacteristic drives to the front of the rim. Dirk doesn’t have the quickest feet in the world, and he isn’t a powerful finisher. So when I say that on two separate possessions Dirk punished New Jersey’s zone with hard cuts to the basket that resulted in easy buckets, you need to understand just how rare that is. Not to mention his one-man dribble-drive on the break to close out the first half for the Mavs (it resulted in free throws, but whatever). It’s not something I’d anticipate seeing on a regular basis, but watching Dirk score in ways that don’t involve fifteen feet between him and the basket, a hand in his face, and all sorts of bodily contortions was a welcome surprise.
So what did I miss out on? From the looks of things, a three-point barrage and a balanced Maverick attack are what did the Nets in. Was Josh’s second half as good as the box score makes it look? How was Kidd’s second half defense on Harris? Fill in the blanks for me, guys.
The New Jersey Nets visit the Dallas Mavericks
Now that we’ve all had a good year to digest the Kidd-Harris swap, and at least one good thrashing at the hands of Devin, everybody’s in the mood to reminisce. This is what we were thinking when we traded for Kidd. This is why the Mavs should have kept Devin. These are the intangible ways in which Kidd helps our team. Blahdy, blahdy, blah.
These dialogues aren’t new. We’ve beaten the trade like a dead horse, whipped out the defibrillator, brought it back, and then beat it some more. To some extent, it will always be a haunting trade to the Mavs. Harris will make more All-Star teams, and those lost draft picks (the productive Ryan Anderson and a future pick) are a punch in the gut. That doesn’t change the fact that we should be beyond this by now. After all that’s happened this season, is another game against Devin Harris really our biggest concern?
For me, tonight’s game is more about seeing where this team is emotionally. They were riding the big one, coasting into the All-Star break, and finally playing well. They blew it late against the Celtics on the break’s eve, and tonight we’ll see if the Mavs are ready to pick up where they left off or if they’ll curl up in the fetal position in the paint and sob. This team once had Devin Harris and draft picks. This team had a win against the Celtics in their clutches. What they have now is a chance to put something tangible together to close out the season, a chance to secure a playoff berth, and a chance to build up whatever momentum they can muster going into the postseason.
You know you’re for real when you’re sweating spirits. Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: “‘We definitely had a good sweat,’ Dirk Nowitzki said, ‘and some of the guys obviously had to sweat some of the booze out from over the break.” And with that, the Mavericks declared themselves purged of any toxins from the pre-All-Star portion of the season, or any they may have picked up over the weekend.’
David Lord’s last resort trade scenario? Antoine Wright and Jerry Stackhouse for Mikki Moore and John Salmons. I don’t love Mikki Moore’s game, but he’s a decent back-up center and a good guy. Not that that’s exactly an applicable skill. Still, a pretty good trade for both sides.
The Mavs play the Nets tonight. Devin Harris plays for the Nets. The trade deadline is tomorrow. Prepare to be bombarded with considerations, “looks back,” and nostalgia. Jan Hubbard of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram offers a decidedly nonconfrontational perspective on Kidd-Harris a year later: “The humorous part of the argument is that a year later, both sides were right. Avery Johnson, Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban were right and so were Rod Thorn and Lawrence Frank. The Jason Kidd-Devin Harristrade has worked out fine for the Mavericks and the Nets. Kidd has been the engine of a team that has gone 29-14 since a difficult 2-7 start under a new coaching staff with a new system. With total freedom that he had never experienced as a professional, Harris has thrived in New Jersey, although he has tailed off a little from his torrid start.” I’m sure plenty of people would disagree. Of course if the Mavs’ play of late lasts into the playoffs, everyone might be singing a different tune.
David Moore of The Dallas Morning News continues on that note, offering a black-and-white evaluation: “The eve of this one-year anniversary is the perfect time to reflect on how the deal went down and assess its impact. Thanks to the NBA, by the way, for inviting Devin Harris and the New Jersey Nets to American Airlines Center to commemorate the event. Debate the merits of the exchange all you want and marvel over Harris’ ascension. It’s fun. But remember, the Mavericks acquired Kidd for one reason and one reason only: to return to the Finals. If the team fails to do so while he wears a Mavericks uniform, the trade was a bad one.”
Big news of last night: Tracy McGrady will miss the rest of the season and plans to undergo the game-altering microfracture knee surgery. Depending on how you view the Rockets, this is either a good thing (T-Mac is a ball-stopper, takes too many contested jumpers, etc.) or a bad thing (he’s a team leader and a former All-Star). Regardless, injured McGrady wasn’t doing them any good. I’m somewhere in between the two camps, but I do think that the Hornets losing Tyson Chandler trumps this. Houston still starts Shane Battier and Ron Artest on the wings, and that’s nothing to scoff at.
Rick Carlisle, via Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com: “‘I am not anticipating a big trade,’ the coach said after the afternoon session. ‘I expect (the post-deadline roster) to look a lot like it does now.’” BO-RING.
Photo from Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE/Getty Images via NBA.com
In a completely anticlimactic moment of TNT’s NBA coverage (remember, they “know drama,”), Dirk Nowitzki was announced as one of the Western Conference All-Star reserves. Awesome. As usual, congrats to Dirk, who can practically pencil the weekend into his schedule at the beginning of the season. Still, it’s an accomplishment nonetheless.
Also, Devin Harris was named an Eastern Conference reserve. Big ups to Devin and what he’s been able to do this season. Though, I do tend to agree with Eddie Sefko that Harris had no chance of making the squad as a Mav. While Harris is immensely talented and on some nights flat-out unguardable, the New Jersey offense functions with Devin Harris at its solar center. The other bodies, Carter, Lopez, et al., are merely orbiting Harris and his rising star. For a team with little peripheral talent, it works. With Dallas, the offense would still be in Dirk’s hands, with Devin as a third or maybe even fourth fiddle.
It’s not an issue of development, just a difference in philosophy. But again: mad props to Devin, who unquestionably deserves all the success he’s been able to achieve so far in Jersey.