Being in the Moment

Posted by David Hopkins on January 15, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

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“Human suffering is irrelevant to me!” – Galactus, Devourer of Worlds

I took my family to the game last night. My wife and daughter sat on either side of me, as we watched from the cheap seats (the proof via Instagram). We had a good time, each in our own way.

My wife quietly observes the game. She doesn’t get pre-occupied with the trivia, the history, or the box score like I do, but she always has a good sense for the flow and momentum of a game. She disapproves of me booing the opponent during their foul shots and is annoyed by fans who yell the same thing during every play. For instance, several games last season, we sat next to “Set it up!” guy in section 328. We were tired of “Set it up!” and privately cherished those moments when “Set it up!” would leave for prolonged smoking and drinking breaks during the middle of the game. This is not to suggest that my wife prefers a civil sporting contest. When I commented on J.J. Barea flopping, my wife had a more direct way of describing it: “Barea needs to stop playing like a little [expletive deleted].” I love my wife.

My daughter is concerned mostly about getting on the jumbotron and snagging one of the t-shirts being shot into the crowd. I try to explain that the odds are unlikely for fans in the 300s, but she remains hopeful. She loves the half-time entertainment, the crazy antics of the mascot Champ (also his cousin, Inflatable Champ), and the contests during timeouts. She loudly participates in the chants. “De-fense! De-fense!” She likes to dance and to yell. She protests and pouts until she can have a soft pretzel. My daughter is happy when the Mavs win, apathetic when they don’t.

I mutter to myself while watching the game. I clap my paper fan noisemaker to signal that the Mavs are playing well. I sigh and groan at bad calls, usually punctuated with a “Come on!” If the three-pointer is open, I urge them on (“Take it!”). A fast break culminating in a slam dunk almost always elicits an “Oh yeah!” and/or “That’s it!” from me. Sometimes I forget to breathe if the Mavs haven’t scored in a while. I lean forward in my seat, hand to face, during close games.

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Quoteboard: Dallas Mavericks 113, Minnesota Timberwolves 98

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on under Interviews | Read the First Comment

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Don’t call it a comeback, but the Dallas Mavericks are bouncing back from rock bottom. They are now on a three-game winning streak after recording a 113-98 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Dallas began the game on a 22-11 run and never trailed at any point. With the victory over the Timberwolves, the Mavericks recorded their third consecutive win, which ties their season-best win-streak. They also won 3 straight: Nov. 3 vs. Charlotte through Nov. 7 vs. Toronto, and Dec. 6 at Phoenix to Dec. 10 vs. Sacramento.

Darren Collison tallied a game-high 23 points  to go along with nine assists and three steals in 36 minutes against the Timberwolves. It was his fifth 20-point effort of the season. He led Dallas in scoring for the eighth time this year, includes ties. Collison has now scored in double figures in each of his last 12 games. O.J. Mayo recorded 20 points to go along with seven rebounds, a season-high nine assists and two steals in 38 minutes. It was his 17th20-point effort of the season. He was efficiency personified as he shot a season-high 72.7 percent (8-of-11) from the floor. Elton Brand turned back the clock as he tallied a season-high 20 points to go along with six rebounds and three assists in 30 minutes against Minnesota, previous high: 17 points on two occasions. Brand led all players with 14 points in 14 first-half minutes. He missed his first shot of the game and then made 10 of his next 12.

Collision (23), Mayo (20) and Brand (20) all scored 20-plus points for Dallas in the win. It marked the first time this season that the Mavericks had three players with 20-plus points in a game. The last time Dallas had three players score at least 20 and Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t one of the player was Jan. 30, 2012 vs Phoenix (Vince Carter 21, Shawn Marion 20 and Delonte West 25). Dirk had 10 in that game. Dirk finished the game against Minnesota with 10 points.

Dallas was sharing the wealth as they handed out a season-high 33 assists against Minnesota. It marked the second time this season that the Mavericks have recorded 30-plus assists in a game, 31 vs. Charlotte 11/3.

Here is the quoteboard for the victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 104, Memphis Grizzlies 83

Posted by Kirk Henderson on January 13, 2013 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

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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.

  • When Dallas managed to start the game by making three of their first 12 shots, I assumed it was going to be another long and painful game. Sometimes, though, being a nattering nabob of negatism means relishing a suprising win — as was the case on Saturday night  when the Mavericks turned on the offense and build up a thirty point lead by the end of the third against a team that’s won more than 70% of it’s games prior to tonight’s win.
  • Granted, playing the second night of a back-to-back clearly challenged the Grizzlies. After a tough overtime win against the Spurs, Memphis looked exhausted early and it showed in the box score as they simply weren’t able to hit a shot, finishing the game shooting 38% from the field.
  • Tonight was a tale of two Kamans. In the first quarter alone, Kaman managed to get up seven shots in around six minutes, only making three in the process. His early shots were rushed and it showed as he wasn’t able to convert a few easy looks right around the rim. He did, however, manage five rebounds in the period.
  • Third quarter Kaman came out playing like a man on a mission, scoring eight points in four minutes in a variety of ways. He started with a back-down hook shot, followed with a 15-foot jumper, then followed by a crafty up-and-under finish near the rim, and finally a pick-and-roll lay-in created off a pass from Darren Collison.
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Thermodynamics: Week 11

Posted by Travis Wimberly on January 10, 2013 under Commentary, Recaps | Read the First Comment

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

The winless warriors strike again. The Mavs just completed another week in which they consistently played hard but failed to win a single game. If you’re still watching each game in full, good on you. You’re a true fan (or a masochist).

Let’s dive into the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Mavs’ week.

Week 11 (Hornets, @Jazz, @Clippers)

FIRE

1) Elton Brand

Brand turned in a nicely productive week. He averaged 10.3 points per game (PPG)— well above his season average of 6.9 PPG— and shot a cumulative 14-of-23 (61%) from the floor. He was particularly effective from mid-range, going 6-of-7 (88%) on shots from over 15 feet. Most importantly, Brand exercised prudent shot selection and played within the flow of the Mavs’ offense — of his 14 field goals this week, 12 were assisted (86%). This last point explains in large part why Brand shot so well; Brand was consistently in a position this week to receive the ball after dribble penetration and ball movement had scattered the opposing defense, and when that happens, he has the ability to be a very effective mid-range shooter.

Moving forward, I’d like to see two more things from Brand. First, I’d like to see him rebound more consistently. He averaged 5.3 rebounds per game (RPG) this week, which was bolstered largely by his 20-minute, nine-rebound performance in Utah. He did not rebound very well in the other two games, as evidenced by his DReb numbers: 13.5% against the Hornets, 9.6% against the Clippers, per Hoopdata. A big man of Brand’s height, frame, and skill should be closer to 20.0%, if not even higher. The second thing I’d like to see from Brand is mostly out of his control: I want to see him play more. I think he should start at center (moving Chris Kaman to a bench role) and play 28-30 MPG. The Mavs’ defense is considerably more effective when Brand plays with Dirk (once we have a bigger sample size, I believe the on-court/off-court stats will bear this out). Considering how poor the Mavs’ defense has been for most of the year, this one minor adjustment could make a noticeable difference.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 94, Utah Jazz 100

Posted by Kirk Henderson on January 8, 2013 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

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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.

  • At the risk of being unoriginal, I simply had to pass this on from Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas: The last time the Dalllas Mavericks lost 9 of 10, Cuban purchased the team with 2 games left in that run of futility. In other words, it’s been over 13 years.
  • The Carlisle line ups are starting to get puzzling. Chris Kaman (14 points, nine rebounds) had a nice first half, but was ineffectual at best in the second. Elton Brand (11 points, eight rebounds in only 20 minutes) had eight points and three rebounds in the third quarter alone. So why Kaman was in during crunch time is baffling. Even Dirk has questioned why Carlisle insists on playing he and Kaman together, as neither is a decent one on one defender. I assume real time data is available to the Dallas coaching staff, and for the third straight game, Dallas missed a close out chance by playing the wrong guys at the wrong time.
  • The Utah announcers made an interesting series of points tonight regarding Dirk’s (20 points, five assists) play as of late. Specifically that he’s not dribbling much within the offense. If you remove the fourth quarter last ditch effort from the equation, you can probably count the number of dribbles he took in the game on one hand. Part of this is by design, as Dirk is ridiculously effective without the dribble, either by shooting on the catch or reversing the ball quickly to an open man. Then again, Jazz announcer (and former player) Matt Harpring also said that Dirk is ineffectual off the dribble which is like insisting the sky is purple.
  • The downside of this tonight seemed to be a misguided attempt to force feed Kaman the ball. Kaman has been a solid addition, all things considered, but he shouldn’t be the first option for Dallas. His points have to come within the flow of the offense and the Utah coaches even took a crack at him during a half time interview saying that when the ball enters to him, it rarely comes back out. That’s not a good thing.
  • Elton Brand is alive! After shooting 37% in November, Brand has been shooting the ball very well, over 50% in fact going on a month and a week. Tonight he shot a very efficient 5-for-7 from the floor. Why he’s averaging just 22 minutes is a bit of a mystery.
  • Gordon Hayward (27 points, six rebounds, five assists) is a brilliant basketball player. His block of a Roddy layup at the rim in the fourth was a masterpiece of fast break defense. How the Jazz are only a single game above .500 is a bit of a conundrum. That a guy like Hayward comes off the bench shows just how many viable options the Jazz have to go with on a given night. Alec Burks (13 points, 8-of-9 FTs) is another young name to keep an eye on.

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.

 

Quoteboard: New Orleans Hornets 99, Dallas Mavericks 96

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on January 6, 2013 under Interviews | Read the First Comment

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The Dallas Mavericks continue to struggle when it comes to overtime. The Mavericks suffered a 99-96 overtime loss to the New Orleans Hornets. New Orleans used a 30-13 run from the 5:14 mark of the third quarter through the 7:12 mark of the fourth period to turn an 11-point deficit, 60-49, into a six-point advantage, 79-73. With the overtime loss, Dallas tied an NBA record with their 10th consecutive overtime loss, joining Atlanta, Golden State and Minnesota in that dubious club. Dallas dropped to 0-7 in overtime games this season. The franchise record for the most overtime games in a season is eight (which occurred in three different seasons).  Dallas went 4-4 in overtime games in 1995-96, 4-4 in overtime games in 1997-98 and 5-3 in overtime games in 2009-10.

The Mavericks are 12-3 this season when they lead going into the fourth quarter. They are now 8-1 at home when leading going into the fourth. All three of the Mavericks’ losses in such games have come in overtime (at Charlotte Nov. 10, 2012; at Oklahoma City Dec. 27, 2012; versus New Orleans Jan. 6, 2013). The Mavericks are also 12-5 this season when they build at least a 10-point lead. All five of the Mavericks’ losses in such games have been decided in overtime (led by 15 at Charlotte on Nov. 10, 2012 but lost 101-97; led by 13 at Minnesota on Dec. 15, 2012 but lost 114-106; led by 11 at Oklahoma City on Dec. 27, 2012 but lost 111-105; led by 10 at Miami on Jan, 2, 2013 but lost 119-109; led by 11 versus New Orleans on Jan. 6, 2013 but lost 99-96).

Dirk Nowitzki made his first start of the season (1,031st career) against the Hornets on Saturday. The Mavericks used their 15th different starting lineup in their 34thgame of the season. Nowitzki played in his seventh game of the year and tallied a season-best 20 points to go along with a season-high-tying six boards in a season-high 34 minutes. His previous high scoring game this season was 19 points, which he recorded in Dallas’ previous game at Miami. He went 2-of-3 from beyond the arc against New Orleans and is now tied with Mookie Blaylock for 30th place on the NBA’s all-time 3-point field goals made list with 1,283 career treys. Nowitzki is averaging 16.7 points per game on 50 percent shooting over his last three games. He is averaging 26.7 minutes per game over his last three contests.

Here is the quoteboard for the overtime loss to the New Orleans Hornets

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 96, New Orleans Hornets 99

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

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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.

  • The starting front court of Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman doesn’t make a lot of sense. The spacing offensively is really rough, and defensively neither Dirk nor Kaman can play very good man to man defense or recover well on pick and rolls (though I’d argue each is a competent help defender). The Carter, Dirk, Elton Brand front court, however, has good spacing, and Brand seems to fit better defensively with Dirk, particularly as a rim protector. It was understandable that Carlisle went with Marion on that final possession since the Vasquez pick and roll meant a switch would be to the Maverick’s advantage, but the leaving Marion in as the “center”, along with Collison, Mayo, Carter, and Dirk for the second straight overtime simply didn’t work. I really don’t get why Carlisle went away from the line up from the last four minutes of the game. Then again, had Mayo hit any of the wide open shots he had in the overtime, we’d be having a different discussion.
  • In the third, Dirk Nowitzki (20 points, six rebounds) had back to back threes coming as the trailer for the transition offense. Any other trailer in the Dallas offense immediately continues swinging the ball around the perimeter. The threat of Dirk literally opens up the entire Dallas offense. He has the green light to shoot, drive, or reverse the ball, and is also a threat to make an interior post feed as he did to Kaman for a lay up later in the quarter after a Mayo ball reversal.
  • It feels like ages since O.J. Mayo (14 points, five rebounds) played a complete game. Tonight he kept his turnovers down, but couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn and failed to notch a single assist. As Mayo has improved throughout the first half of the season, it’s become easy to nit pick aspects of his game. Lately, it’s been his propensity to turn the ball over. However, I’d like to see him stop biting on pump fakes on long jump shots. In the second quarter, he bit on a Ryan Anderson pump fake, which led to a give and go lay up for Anderson. With Anderson being 6’10″, Mayo isn’t going to block his shot. All he can do is challenge with a hand up. Defensively, Mayo is a liability far too often.

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.


Setting the Table: New Orleans Hornets (Game 34)

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

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The Dallas Mavericks (13-20) look to get back on track after a tough overtime loss to the Miami Heat as they host the New Orleans Hornets (7-25). The big news leading up to the game against the Hornets was a lingering possibility of Dirk Nowitzki starting for the first time this season. Dirk practiced with the starters for a majority of the time during the team’s practice on Friday afternoon. Dirk’s minutes have gradually increased since he returned to the lineup for the Mavericks. He played 29 minutes in the overtime loss at Miami on Jan. 2, the most he has played since his Dec. 23 return against San Antonio.

The news was made official at the team’s shootaround as Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told reporters that Dirk will make his first start of the season against the Hornets. His return to the starting lineup does create a question that will be examined later in the preview.

Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Hornets

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Panic Leads to Rash Judgements

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on December 31, 2012 under Commentary | 7 Comments to Read

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The Dallas Mavericks are in the midst of an incredibly bad losing streak.  For only the third time in the Mark Cuban era, the Mavericks begrudgingly own a six-game losing streak. They have lost nine of their last 10 games. The culture of winning and success the Mavericks have created for well over a decade has now met its darkest time. It’s gotten to the point where Dirk Nowitzki called the game against the lowly Washington Wizards on New Year’s Day a “must-win” and “playoff” game. For all intensive purposes, Dallas has come awfully close to hitting rock bottom.

Shawn Marion said things have got to change. “We got to get some dog in us, some fight in us right now,” he said. “At times, we look good and it’s going good and at times it’s not. Right now, the times don’t outweigh the times it’s good. That’s what’s happening. We got to find a way to get it going because this (expletive) stinks.”

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle briefly commented on what is going wrong for the team after their latest loss to the Spurs. “We have a lot of challenges,” Carlisle said. “To go down the laundry list of things we’ve got going against us is something I’m not interested in. This league has never been about telling everybody about your problems. It’s about finding the solutions to the big ones and then cleaning up the little ones as you clean up the big ones.”

In regards to whether the chemistry is an issue or if the effort just isn’t there, Carlisle had a simple and broad answer. “Right now, you’d have to question everything,” Carlisle said. “I’ll just leave it at that. And again, I’m still going to stay on record saying I believe in the group. But we’ve all got to do better. And it starts with me.”

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Quoteboard: San Antonio Spurs 111, Dallas Mavericks 86

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on under Interviews | Read the First Comment

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The Dallas Mavericks are now in the midst of a full-on funk as they are on a six-game losing streak after suffering a 111-86 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio began the game on a 14-2 run and never trailed at any point. While the game was much more competitive as opposed to the game a week ago, the Mavericks just couldn’t sustain enough energy and effort to withstand the Spurs.

In his fourth game back, Dirk Nowitzki had another rough outing as he had eight points while shooting 3-of-9 from the field. He simply hasn’t looked like the same Dirk everyone knows and loves as he has made 11-of-34 shots (32 percent) since his return. He is averaging 7.5 points a game. His situation, trying to get back into basketball shape, definitely makes the challenge that much more difficult for the Mavericks as they try to find their way.

Elton Brand recorded his third double-double of the season (399thcareer) with 14 points and a game-high-tying 10 rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench. He scored in double figures for the sixth time this season and grabbed 10-plus boards for the fourth time this year. Darren Collison recorded a team-high 18 points to go along with five rebounds and a team-high eight assists in 33 minutes. He’s averaging 18.8 points per game over his last four games and has led the team in scoring in three of Dallas’ last four contests.

Here is the quoteboard for the loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

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