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