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.
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 Cornrows, Hardwood Paroxysm, HoopChalk and ProBasketballDraft. You can follow Ian on Twitter at @HickoryHigh.
For the first time in awhile, things are looking up in Dallas. Dirk Nowitzki is healthy, and the Mavericks are on a four game win streak. In their wins over Sacramento, Memphis, Minnesota and Houston, Dallas put up points at the scorching rate of 112.4 points per 100 possessions. This is a tremendous bump for what has been the 18th most efficient offense in the league this year and, at just 100.9 points per 100 possessions, the least efficient Mavericks’ offense of the past 13 seasons.
Offensive firepower of great variety has been the defining characteristic of Mavericks’ basketball for more than a decade, so watching the team struggle so mightily this season has been somewhat disconcerting. The absence of Dirk Nowitzki has certainly made things difficult, but the problems have been so systemic it’s hard to lay them all at the feet of one giant German. Across the entire season the Mavericks have wilted in each of the offensive Four Factors. They rank 8th in the league TO%, but 13th in eFG%, 16th in FTA Rate and 27th in ORB%.
The eFG% is especially troubling. Making shots is what Mavericks do, and under Rick Carlisle in particular, the team has shown a razor-sharp focus on the craft of creating quality open looks. This season however, their miraculous ability to manipulate and manufacture open space has largely fizzled. As dark as things have been, some fragrant Four-Factor-blossoms bloomed in their three most recent wins. They posted an eFG% of just 45.3% against Sacramento but pushed the bounds of offensive efficiency with just nine turnovers and 35 free throw attempts. Against Memphis and Minnesota, Dallas scorched the nets with eFG%s of 55.6% and 66.3% respectively. Against Houston, shooting was again a problem but 10 turnovers and 43 free throw attempts did the job. Those eFG% numbers are exciting to type; they feel like a thick, down sleeping bag with the potential to fend off the long winter weeks still to come. But I’m not sure they are truly a reflection of problems solved.
You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- On the bright side, it didn’t feel like a blowout until the 4th quarter. Throughout the game, the Mavs were within reach. The teams took turns with their scoring drives; it always appeared close.
- By comparison, the last time the Mavs played the Spurs on December 23rd, it was a soul-crushing 38 point loss. This game was only slightly soul-crushing with a 25 point loss.
- Another way to look at it, this season, the Spurs have beat the Mavs by 31.5 points on average.
- The Mavs have had 14 different starting lineups in the past 31 games. Vince Carter started for the first time this season. It didn’t help. At 8:28 in the first quarter, the Spurs were ahead 14-2.
- San Antonio’s big three were… big. Tony Parker had 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 9 assists. Manu Ginobili had 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. And Tim Duncan had 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks. They scored 53% of their team’s total points. They are boring but deadly.
- Also to the Spurs’ credit, they shot 50.6% as the visiting team. When a team shoots that well, the opponent cannot afford to make many mistakes. One big mistake would be allowing your opponent to shoot 50.6%.
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 did not lack for effort on Friday night. What they did lack for was sufficient personnel to defeat a team of the Memphis Grizzlies’ caliber.
- That isn’t to say that the current Mavericks could never beat an elite team. They very well could if O.J. Mayo (3-11 FG, 1-4 3PT, 10 points) and Chris Kaman (4-12 FG, eight points, six rebounds) performed at higher respective levels. But that wasn’t the case against a stringent Grizzlies’ defense led by Tony Allen (5-14 FG, 10 points, three steals). Allen’s defense on Mayo could only be classified as superb.
- Shawn Marion, consummate professional, led the way with 14 points (6-11 FG) and 11 rebounds.
- Marion’s field goal percentage is now comfortably above his career average and hovering near 50% FG. That’s likely been aided by the Mavericks’ increasingly transition-focused offense and his gradual reduction of three-point attempts, but it’s impressive nonetheless.
- The Mavericks’ three primary three-point shooters – Jae Crowder (1-9 FG, 0-4 3PT, two points, five rebounds), Vince Carter (5-14 FG, 3-9 3PT, 14 points, seven rebounds), and Mayo – made only four of 17 attempts.
- Had one of the three been more in rhythm, this game might have been significantly different.
- The play of Dominique Jones (4-9 FG, 13 points, seven assists) was a nice, if tempered, positive. Jones utilized his greatest skill (reaching the basket via quick first step) to distribute effectively and to draw free throw attempts, of which he made all five.
- Neither the Mavericks or Grizzlies shot the ball well in any facet, as each team barely eclipsed 40 percent on field goals and shot less than 30 percent from three.
- The Grizzlies were able to overcome those halfcourt scoring woes by winning the turnover battle (by a 22 to 15 margin, or +7), and capitalizing on the resulting transition opportunities early in the game.
- Brandan Wright (5-6 FG, 12 points, five rebounds) continued his run of incredible scoring efficiency in somewhat extended action (26 minutes). A near perfect scoring night from Wright should no longer surprise, and yet it still does. But Wright’s night was not entirely perfect – he struggled to keep the ball (three turnovers), and struggled at times on the defensive end. Still, it was an impressive performance for someone returning from an ankle injury.
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.
On paper, the numbers should look good. The Mavericks’ roster is comprised of equal parts veteran presence and young athleticism: Shawn Marion, Chris Kaman, Elton Brand, and Vince Carter to go with O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison, Jae Crowder and Brandan Wright. This was a Mavs roster that fans have long envisioned: one with potential. And honesty may be the best policy, but sometimes the truth hurts. The truth is that these Mavericks are a bad basketball team. I’m not even sure ‘right now’ is needed as a qualifier; excluding the momentary reprieve of playing Detroit and then not playing for 3 days, the Mavs have looked pretty terrible as of late, even counting Thursday’s win over Phoenix.
There seems to be some very un-Mavericks-like feast or famine going on with the squad. A big win versus a Detroit team doesn’t outshine the losses and single close win that have come in the past 10 days, unless the Mavericks are already plotting their way into a lottery selection. Poring over the box scores back to the Philly game reveals numerous areas of weakness with no one thing as a consistent fault. They say that bad teams find ways to lose, and for the first time in a long time, the Mavericks have been playing into that stereotype. Here are a few things that I’ve noted:
• Player consistency at any position and in any statistical category has been hard to come by. Even when a player appears to do have done well, sometimes the numbers tell a different story. After living in Rick Carlisle’s doghouse for a while, Wright finally got some playing time — and looked good — against Phoenix. He shot 66 percent from the field and finished with 16 points, four rebounds, two steals, two blocks, and zero turnovers in 23 minutes. And yet, the box score will tell you that he had the lowest plus/minus on the Mavericks during that particular game. Hard to know who to play when the players put up good numbers and the team does worse.
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.
The Dallas Mavericks (7-7) now begin a potentially make or break portion of their schedule starting with their game against the Philadelphia 76ers (8-6). What makes this stretch so critical for the Mavericks is the fact that they won’t be spending much time at home. The Mavericks will play 16 of their next 23 games on the road beginning with the game at Philadelphia on 11/27. The Mavericks will play five of their next six and eight of their next 10 away from the American Airlines Center. Dallas will have to do whatever they can to keep their heads above water. At 7-7, Dallas is looking for a win against Philadelphia to avoid dropping below .500 for the first time this season. If recent games are an indicator, Dallas is due for a win. The Mavericks have now alternated wins and losses in each of their last seven games (vs. Minnesota 11/12 to vs. L.A. Lakers 11/21).
Here are notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Sixers.
The Dallas Mavericks refuse fall below .500 on the season. They used a 29-10 run from the 5:27 mark of the third quarter through the 9:16 mark of the fourth period to turn an eight-point deficit, 72-64, into an 11-point advantage, 93-82. That was the run that allowed the Mavericks to secure an impressive 114-111 victory over the hot Knicks squad. With the win, the Mavericks handed the Knicks just their second loss of the season (New York moved to 8-2 on the year).
O.J. Mayo led all scorers with nine points in the first quarter against the Knicks on Wednesday. Mayo finished with a game-high 27 points in 36 minutes against the Knicks. Vince Carter appeared in his 999thcareer regular-season game against New York on Wednesday and tallied a season-high 25 points in 23 minutes off the bench. His previous high scoring game this year was 19 at Charlotte (11/10). The most points Carter scored in a game in 2011-12 was 23 (vs. Houston 4/18/12). In a bounce-back performance, Darren Collison went 7-for-11 from the field and tallied 19 points and a team-high seven assists in 34 minutes against the Knicks. After recording his first DNP-CD (Did Not Play – Coach’s Decision) of the year, Jae Crowder recorded 12 points and four rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench against New York. He matched his season high for points and rebounds.
Here is the quoteboard for the win against the Knicks.
- On a night of needed triumph for the Mavericks, it’s difficult to decide what should lead The Difference: Vince Carter’s (9-17 FG, 5-10 3PT, 25 points) surprise fourth quarter domination, or another night of overarching and essential offensive efficiency from O.J. Mayo (10-17 FG, 27 points). I’ll choose neither, and mention what a relief it was to see Darren Collison (7-11 FG, 19 points, seven assists) back in early season form. The offense fell into step with Collison’s passing surge, and the Mavericks were able to limit turnovers and capitalize on open three-point opportunities (13-29 from beyond the arc). Even with Dirk injured, three-point shooting is central to the team’s identity and success, especially given how well Mayo, Carter, and Jae Crowder (4-6 FG, 3-5 3PT, 12 points, four rebounds) have shot from beyond the arc this season.
- Speaking of Crowder, it was nice to see him back in the rotation and contributing immediately. His reaction after he made a three early in the game summed up the Mavericks’ night: an important moment of victory in the context of recent failure, and a huge relief in terms of the team’s prospects until Dirk returns. (Side note: Shawn Marion continues to be simultaneously fantastic and underrated on defense. That vital close on Carmelo Anthony’s jumper in the final seconds wasn’t perfect, but it was enough to cause a moment of crucial hesitation.)
- It’s almost jarring how much more relaxed and smooth O.J. Mayo’s game as a whole has become in Dallas – there’s a fluidity and calmness to the way he creates space and pulls up for jumpers that almost never existed in Memphis. Perhaps that’s a product of how his role has largely shifted and expanded, and perhaps it’s due to the natural growth some players find in their mid-20′s. It likely stems from both the natural and situational, and Mayo’s dual evolution as a player couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for the Mavericks. At least in the short-term, he’s the relentless conductor that guides the Mavericks’ offense. That was never more obvious than tonight, as Mayo kept the Mavericks in the game through offensive lulls and quickly found Collison and Carter around the perimeter in key moments.