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.
- It figures that the game I pick to recap is a blowout. Disclaimer before we go any further: I am a huge Isaiah Thomas fan. I will try to temper this as we talk about what went wrong with the Mavericks in Sacramento. It wasn’t pretty, people. Not even a little bit.
- A rough start really doomed Dallas. The team had five of their 17 turnovers in the first quarter, including four of them in the first four minutes of the game. Sacramento took advantage, scoring nine points off of those turnovers in the opening session. The Kings jumped out to a lead quickly, leaving the Mavs to play catch up all night.
- After finding himself on the bench at the end of the Suns game on Thursday night, Jason Terry (game-high 23 points, 10-for-18 fgs) was looking to get himself going early against the Kings, and was one of the bright spots for the Mavs offensively in the first half. He kept the Mavs in it by coming up with a bucket to temper the crowd every time the Kings seemed to be on the verge of really blowing things open.
- While Dirk Nowitzki started off 2-for-2 from the floor, the team didn’t make it a point to get the ball to him in the first quarter and things went downhill from there as Dirk wasn’t ever able to get going. He shot 1-for-5 in the second quarter, 2-for-4 in the third and then 0-2 in the fourth. He finished with 13 points on 5-for-13 shooting in 29 minutes of action.
- The Mavericks just looked sluggish tonight. Perhaps they were tired from last night’s loss to the Suns, but their defense wasn’t doing them any favours against the Kings. A five-point swing for the Kings: Jason Thompson gets his own offensive rebound, finds Chuck Hayes open under the hoop for an easy two. Next possession:Francisco Garcia steals the ball from Nowitzki (Mavs turnover #6) and finds John Salmons for a three.
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Box Score — Play-by-Play — Shot Chart – GameFlow
You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- Back-to-back games against the struggling Milwaukee Bucks and the perpetually befuddled Sacramento Kings weren’t going to test the Mavs’ competitive fiber, but they did end testing the Mavs’ limits. In two straight games, we got to see exactly what kind of dominance this Mavericks team is capable of, and though the level of competition gives these two huge wins a certain disclaimer, demolishing lesser teams does have a decent correlation with long-term success. More importantly: after being on the receiving end of a couple of routs to begin the season, Dallas is finally making legitimate strides in their efforts to create balance.
- It’s fantastic and reassuring and all kinds of confusing that the Mavs are able to be this good with Dirk Nowitzki averaging just 12.5 points in the last two games. Some of that is a function of playing time (particularly because of the Mavs’ tendency to work through Nowitzki late in close games), but the marginal nature of Nowitzki’s involvement has been apparent irrelevant of his production. Dirk’s still doing work, he’s just doing substantially less than he did at any point last season.
- Congratulations to the Kings, who now have the honor of posting the lowest point total for any Maverick opponent in a half, the lowest point total in a half in Kings franchise history, the lowest point total for a Maverick opponent in a game, the fewest field goals made by a Maverick opponent, the lowest single-game field goal percentage in Kings franchise history, and the lowest single-game field goal percentage mark for any Maverick opponent overall. Gold stars all around.
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The Mavs don’t have a very good track record when it comes to finding value late in the draft, though selecting Josh Howard with the final pick in the first round back in 2003. But the stakes have never been higher, with the Mavs’ few young assets weighing their options in free agency and the Mavs’ 2010 pick in the hands of the New Jersey Nets. This one counts big time, and it’s up to the management and the scouting team to find the diamond in the rough.
It’s tough, but hardly impossible. Quality players pass right under the noses of many a team year after year, leaving latent value late in the draft. The Mavs pick at 22, which is just a shade closer to the lottery than to the Mavs’ customary position at the draft’s tail.
Here are the picks at 22 this decade:
2008 – Courtney Lee
2007 – Jared Dudley
2006 – Marcus Williams
2005 – Jarrett Jack
2004 – Viktor Khryapa
2003 – Zoran Planinic
2002 – Casey Jacobsen
2001 – Jeryl Sasser
2000 – Donnell Harvey
Three of those players (Courtney Lee, Jared Dudley, Jarrett Jack) have shown rotation player chops. Lee is the most notable as the starting 2 guard of an impressive Orlando team just one win away from the Finals. In fact, if the Mavs could magically re-draft Lee this year, they’d be in pretty good shape.
Just for fun, here are picks in the late first round (20+) :
Courtney Lee (22)
Nicolas Batum (25)
Wilson Chandler (23)
Rudy Fernandez (24)
Aaron Brooks (26)
Renaldo Balkman (20)
Rajon Rondo (21)
Kyle Lowry (23)
Shannon Brown (25)
Jordan Farmar (26)
Jarrett Jack (20)
Nate Robinson (21)
Francisco Garcia (23)
Jason Maxiell (26)
Linas Kleiza (27)
David Lee (30)
Jameer Nelson (20)
Delonte West (24)
Kevin Martin (26)
Boris Diaw (21)
Travis Outlaw (23)
Kendrick Perkins (27)
Leandro Barbosa (28)
Josh Howard (29)
Tayshaun Prince (23)
Nenad Krstic (24)
John Salmons (26)
Brendan Haywood (20)
Gerald Wallace (25)
Jamaal Tinsley (27)
Tony Parker (28)
Morris Peterson (21)
It’s certainly worth noting that even the 2005 draft, predicted to be a weak draft class among pundits and largely looked at as a failure in comparison to its contemporaries, still produced productive players late in the first round. Blake Griffin is no Tim Duncan and the consolation prizes may have their flaws, but that doesn’t mean true commodities can’t be found late in the first.
Next week I’ll start examining potential picks for the Mavs, starting with those rumored and confirmed to have scheduled workouts with the team. Some of those players seem poised for success on the pro level, and others may not even be top competitors in the D-League. As fans, we can only hope that MGMT not only makes the right decision in assessing the talent of a potential pick, but also in picking talented players to fill holes in the Mavs’ rotation.
Find new trade machine fodder, Mavs fans: John Salmons has been sent to Chicago along with Brad Miller for Andres Nocioni and Drew Gooden. A good catch for the Bulls, who ditch Noc’s contract and essentially get two contributors for Gooden’s contract. Is it enough for a Chicago playoff push? We’ll see. Either way, I’m not sure I understand why the Kings are trading their valuable assets (practically half the league wanted Salmons) for overpaid backups.
Hat tip to commenter David.
Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
The Mavericks have been offering Jerry Stackhouse’s virtual expiring contract ($7 million this season, only $2 million guaranteed next season) and Brandon Bass ($826,000) to the Kings since this past summer, when Sacramento was shopping Ron Artest. The biggest obstacle for Dallas on a Salmons deal has been the Kings’ insistence that the Mavericks — lacking draft picks to sweeten the deal — also take back guard Beno Udrih, who has four years and nearly $27 million remaining on his contract after this season.
There is another complication for interested parties: Sources revealed Tuesday that Salmons has a 15 percent trade kicker in his contract that would require the team that acquires him to pay him a bonus of nearly $2 million and add that figure to its payroll. Salmons otherwise would rank as one of the league’s better bargains, earning just $5.1 million this season while averaging 18.3 points and shooting 47.2 percent from the field and 41.8 percent on 3-pointers.
Beno Udrih sucks. Been there, talked about that. But would this $2 million trade kicker influence a potential trade with the Mavs? I’d doubt it. Cuban has said he’s willing to spend to make things happen, and though the luxury tax implications make things a bit painful with the kicker (it’s effectively doubled, with $2 million going to Salmons and $2 million going to the league to be dispersed among the teams under the tax), I doubt it would deter Cuban from making an impact deal.
- 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 Harris trade 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.
Or at least you’d think so. Stein tackled a few of the more popular Mavs rumors out there, hopefully stopping any momentum on some of the more underwhelming offers floating around the mainstream media:
There are a couple GMs out there who believe that the Trail Blazers will enter (or have entered) the Vince bidding. Dallas, by contrast, continues to say that it won’t.
The Nets would want Josh Howard in such a deal and the Mavs, according to club sources, have no intention of making Howard available for a Carter swap.
Dallas insists that it’s interested in Carter only if the most valuable trade chip it surrenders is Jerry Stackhouse’s virtual expiring contract (which has only $2 million guaranteed in 2009-10). As covered in Thursday night’s Daily Dime, one Mavs source went so far as to claim that the Nets would have to include rookie center Brook Lopez to change that stance, which obviously isn’t happening.
The Mavs believe that the recent arrival of Darrell Armstrong as an assistant coach — after Armstrong’s influence was badly missed in the locker room in the final, fateful days of Avery Johnson’s run as Mavs coach — gives Howard a confidante on the staff who can help keep him engaged after a rough year-plus for the former All-Star.
The swingman Dallas has actually been chasing, sources say, is Sacramento’s Salmons, but the Kings want the Mavs to take back Beno Udrih as well since they don’t have a first-round pick to sweeten the deal. But Udrih won’t be Dallas-bound with three years and nearly $20 million left on his contract after this season.
I like the Mavs’ hard stance on Vince Carter. Howard would seem a steep price to nab a scorer poised to decline in production and increase in salary. But you already knew that.
I’m also pretty excited that the team isn’t high on Beno Udrih. I’m not sure how anybody could be at this point. I wouldn’t mind adding Salmons to the squad — his slightly above average production warrants his midlevel contract. Udrih is definitely a deal-breaker for me, though.
Stein’s trade frenzy also brings up a point that hasn’t been discussed here in any length, and that’s the impact of trades on the rest of the West. Terry Porter’s firing in Phoenix would definitely seem to help the Mavs (and the rest of the West hoping to stay in the hunt for the playoffs or homecourt advantage), and a major trade for Phoenix, New Orleans, San Antonio, or Portland could significantly alter the playoff picture. There’s no point in digging through the rumors for all of those teams, but we’ll talk if anything seems imminent.
Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images.
Box Score — Play-By-Play — Shot Chart — GameFlow
“Things do not change; we change.”
-Henry David Thoreau
How much do you read into a solid offensive performance against the worst defensive team in the league? Hopefully not too much. The Mavs did nasty things to the Kings’ defense all night, and didn’t even buy them a drink. But just because we shouldn’t go hog wild with a win like this doesn’t mean we can’t find a few things to be proud of and a few things to take away from this one.
This win starts with the rebounding. If you hadn’t guessed, Sacramento isn’t what you would call a “good rebounding team” — they rank 29th in the league in rebounding rate. Dampier just killed it on the glass, taking advantage of Jason Thompson, Spencer Hawes, and everyone on the Sacramento frontline. The rest of the team did their part too, to the tune of a 47-28 rebounding edge. I like. Half of being a good team is beating the teams that you should, and likewise, half of being a good player is schooling the players that can’t match you in size, strength, or skill. Hawes and Thompson are good players, but they don’t have the muscle to fight down low with a bear like Damp.
The Mavs offense didn’t miss a beat in JET’s absence. Antoine Wright, who usually averages 5.5 shot attempts and 1.2 free throw attempts, shot 14 times and went 6-6 from the line. He attacked the basket, he made his open jumpers, and he generally played like he wasn’t Antoine Wright. If this new offensively gifted, awesome, sexier Antoine is here to stay, life after Terry is going to be a breeze…or we can stop living on Fantasy Island and assume that Wright’s 23 points came from a solid effort, a great all-around game, a weak defense, and a bit of good fortune. Big ups for Wright’s night, but I’m not penciling him in for 20 points a game. Josh Howard upped the ante as well, finally filling up the box score (23 points on 14 shots, 1-1 on threes, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, one steal, and one block) in the way we’ve come to expect. Howard, Wright, and J.J. Barea’s production (10 points, 5-7 shooting with no turnovers) gave the Mavs plenty of breathing room in the second half. Dirk didn’t even have to go bonkers for the Mavs to get rolling, and personally, I don’t mind seeing a few wins with merely mortal performances from Nowitzki, no matter the opponent. Watching Dirk have one of “those nights” brings a special kind of joy to my heart, but having those 40+ point performances as a crutch can’t be good for the team’s long-term offensive stability.
Rick Carlisle got his first extended in-game look at Matt Carroll, but Carroll wasn’t all that effective in his 18 minutes. His 4 points on 2-4 shooting were meh, but the far more damning number was Carroll’s -17 point impact on the Mavs while he was in the game. If Carroll’s shooting mojo doesn’t find its way back home soon, I’m starting up the official FREE GERALD GREEN movement.
How good was the Dallas offense in this one? I’ve gone this far without even mentioning Jason Kidd, who was great in his own right. Kidd posted up on Beno Udrih, caused a lot of problems with his ability to get into the lane, and of course created for Howard, Wright, and the like both in the halfcourt and on the break. In the spirit of Kidd doing wonders for this team and still going relatively unnoticed, I’d hate to break with tradition and suddenly shower him with praise. So good job, champ; let’s move on.
Things weren’t all smiley last night, though. The defense, especially in the first quarter, was pretty awful. Kevin Martin and John Salmons had the basketball equivalent of a Turkish Delight in the first quarter, partaking in all sorts of delicious treats that were handed to them by the Mavs on a silver platter. Carlisle managed to screw everybody’s heads on straight with an early timeout, but the idea that we didn’t even come to play against the Kings isn’t a comforting one. Still, it should be mentioned that the game never felt out of control. I never got the impression that the Kings were really going to run away and win this thing. The third quarter turned out to be a dominant performance for the Mavs, keyed by a 20-6 run and a defense that handcuffed Sacramento into shooting 20% from the field. There was little room for doubt thereafter.
GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT: The Gold Star of the Night goes to Antoine Wright. 8-14 FG, 1-3 threes, 6-6 free throws for 23 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 steals. Wright gets a lot of tough love around here, but he had a helluva game. Kudos to you, sir.