The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 81, Los Angeles Lakers 101

Posted by Connor Huchton on April 3, 2013 under Recaps | 3 Comments to Read

Sunrise

Box ScorePlay-By-Play Shot ChartGame 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 Mavericks’ season, for all playoffs-related purposes, ended on Tuesday night, and now we’re left to consider what this lukewarm, odd journey meant.
  • As a Dirk Nowitzki three-pointer failed to reach its intended destination late in the fourth quarter, I realized it would fall to me to essentially eulogize a tumultuous season of Mavericks’ basketball.
  • I thought about O.J. Mayo in the fall, Shawn Marion in the winter, and Dirk Nowitzki in the spring. I thought about the guarded hope of Brandan Wright’s line-drive hook shot, and I thought about the eager play of Bernard James. I thought about the managerial sense of Mike James, and the ever-hopeful exuberance of a Darren Collison drive. I thought about Vince Carter’s return to respect and the journey he and all of us are on, and I thought about the stoic stare of Elton Brand. I thought about all of this, and I sighed and considered all the different reasons that this sum of hope would now amount to nothing in a competitive sense. But a season is not nothing, no matter the result. It’s an emotional journey for those who (perhaps foolishly) choose to invest in its path. That path will lead longtime Mavericks’ fan somewhere unexpected this year – to a place apart from the playoffs. But disappointment does not erase the uniqueness of the journey, and another season and another path awaits in the not-so-distant future.
  • What I will write about tonight is the summation of a grimly typical occurence  - a harsh regression to realistic shooting performances, and a firm departure from the exalted three-point bubble  of glory that’s gracefully covered all of this team’s faults for the last month or so.
  • “In other words: If the jumpers stop falling, the Mavs could be in trouble.”
  • Zach Lowe wrote that sentence less than a week ago, and it’s prescience quickly came to fruition.
  • The Mavericks’ reliance on mid-range success was perhaps the most tenuous aspect of the team’s recent form, and tonight the team failed in that area entirely.
  • The only Maverick who succeeded regularly on offense was Chris Kaman (7-10 FG, 14 points, six rebounds), who turned in one of his better performances of the season.
  • Dirk has always defied defensive hopes with his dominance of the left-sided mid-range game, but that defiance counted for little against a hard-charging Lakers’ defense.
  • He shot and missed all four of his shots from 10-23 feet in that left region, and misses like these always ring loudly with foreboding for even the greatest of mid-range shooters.
  • And like so many nights this season, any hope for a defensive save collapsed after an especially rough second quarter.
  • Earl Clark (7-14 FG, 17 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks), once widely considered a draft bust and NBA failure, played a far more complete and Maverick-destructive game than anyone once would have guessed possible not long ago.
  • But it did happen, as Clark scored from any region possible and defended Dirk with all the aplomb of a young James Worthy.
  • Even more decimating was the play of one Kobe Bryant (8-18 FG, 23 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists).
  • In the absence of Steve Nash, Bryant and the other Laker guards found Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard (10-20 FT) in the post all night, to the tune of a combined 38 points on 25 field goals (and 22 rebounds) from the pair.
  • I’d guess this kind of complete performance is what the overbearing contingency of Lakers’ fans always imagined when this team was first constructed – solid post play, tough interior defense, and a confident Kobe controlling tempo from the perimeter.
  • But such a performance couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Mavericks, who simply appeared unable to generate a significant counter to the Lakers’ play.
  • The cornerstones of these Mavericks, mid-range and three-point shooting, dissipated with the rapidity of a changing wind, and an inability to capitalize at the rim (6-12 FT) closed the door definitively on any sort of courageous final comeback.
  • I have no doubt that the Mavericks, not yet mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, will go on fighting with the heart of a battling, worn down champion, as they have all season. This team does not lack for heart – it simply lacks for well-fitting parts.
  • Along with all the pain and struggle of an uneven season, the 2012-2013 Mavericks heaved forward, one three-pointer at a time, until the proverbial well ran dry and there was nothing left to do but keep fighting against a dooming reality. Playoffs may go, but beards are forever.

Thermodynamics: Week 18

Posted by Travis Wimberly on March 1, 2013 under Commentary, Recaps | Read the First Comment

Ice

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

It wasn’t the worst week of the Mavs’ season, but it was arguably the most excruciating. It started off with a solid win in New Orleans, then slid rapidly from frustrating (against LA) to inexcusable (against Milwaukee) to downright comical (against Memphis).

Let’s hit all those points in a bit more detail as we wrap up the best and worst of the week.

Week 18 (@Hornets, Lakers, Bucks, @Grizzlies)

FIRE

1) Elton Brand

Brand’s production this week was impressive across the board. He scored well and efficiently, averaging almost 13 points per game on 22-of-40 (55%) cumulative shooting. He pulled down almost nine rebounds per game (despite averaging just 25 minutes and conceding many of his boards to Dirk, discussed next), including an impressive 14-rebound performance against the Bucks. He also defended the post well for most of the week, matching up at various points against Dwight Howard, Larry Sanders, Drew Gooden, and Marc Gasol. Brand didn’t exactly shut any of those guys down (although Howard did have a pretty pitiful game in Dallas), but he worked very hard to make things difficult for them. That segues nicely into the most impressive thing about Brand this week: his effort. Brand played exceptionally hard the vast majority of the time he was on the court. Nowhere was that effort more apparent than against Milwaukee, where Brand repeatedly beat multiple Bucks players (with position, no less) to loose balls and free rebounds. He was a disruptive force in the middle, which is something the Mavs have sorely lacked for most of the year. Sure, Brand’s in a contract year, but the pride with which he plays is palpable. At the right price, I personally would welcome him back next year.

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Seeing Into the Future

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on February 25, 2013 under Interviews | 2 Comments to Read

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Dirk Nowitzki is truly a once in a lifetime basketball player. He revolutionized the power forward position. In addition to that, he helped break the stigma or label that all European players were considered spot up shooters and soft. He’s also a once in a lifetime player because he makes himself so open to the media. Take the game against the Los Angeles Lakers. It was once again another game where the Mavericks were unable to execute down the stretch. It was a nationally televised game against one of the league’s most prominent teams. It had two of the league’s recent NBA champions dueling from the uncomfortable position of being outside the playoff picture. It had the feel of a playoff game.

The loss by the Mavericks really put them behind the 8-ball in their chase to make the playoffs. It was an opportunity lost as Dallas ultimately spoiled Dirk’s best game of the season. Whether they win big or lose in heartbreaking fashion, Dirk always steps up and lets the media talk to him (unless the media decides to call a truce and give the Tall Baller From the G a night off). For those who don’t know, players really only talk for one, two, maybe three minutes and then they’re done and they don’t have to talk after every game. Not Dirk. After the game against the Lakers, Dirk spoke to the main pool of media for just about five minutes. He answered questions about how he felt, how it was a frustrating loss and other items (some that don’t always make sense). Dirk finished his interview and got himself ready to leave the locker room. From time to time, select media members will stay and linger to gather more information.

This second round of discussion lasted for nearly seven minutes. Again, seven minutes doesn’t sound like a lot, but he’s being asked questions about a variety of topics and he answers every single one of them and doesn’t hold back. As he scratches his still-developing beard and plays with his wedding ring, Dirk looked into the future and opened up about how he might be hanging around the league longer than people expected. He talked about the CBA, Kobe Bryant and bear hugs.

Here is a special kind of Quoteboard. Enjoy Dirk.

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Quoteboard: Los Angeles Lakers 103, Dallas Mavericks 99

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on February 24, 2013 under Interviews | 2 Comments to Read

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It was a closely contested game, but the Los Angeles Lakers were able to prevail over the Dallas Mavericks with a 103-99 victory on Sunday afternoon. Kobe Bryant tallied a game-high 38 points (13-21 FGs, 4-5 3FGs, 8-10 FTs), including 14 in the fourth quarter, to go along with 12 rebounds and a game-high seven assists in 38 minutes. Kobe went a perfect 5-5 from the field in the fourth quarter. Bryant, who scored 40 points in his previous game vs. Portland, is averaging 39.0 points on 28-of-44 (.636) shooting over his last two games.

In comparison, Dirk Nowitzki stepped up to the challenge with his best game of the season. Dirk recorded his first double-double of the season (370th career) with a season-high 30 points (11-19 FGs, 4-4 3FGs, 4-5 FTs) and a season-best 13 rebounds in 39 minutes against the Lakers on Sunday. His previous high scoring game this year was 26 points at Portland Jan. 29, and his previous high rebounding total was 9 on three occasions. It was his 224th career 30-point game, first since Apr. 18, 2012, 35 vs. Houston. It was also his 107th career 30-point, 10-rebound game. Nowitzki has shot 21-of-36 (.583) from the field over his last two games and is averaging 27.5 points per game and 10.0 rebounds per game in that span.

Some notes before the quotes:

- Dirk Nowitzki recorded 16 points and eight rebounds in 18 first-half minutes for Dallas. Kobe Bryant led Los Angeles with 16 points, five rebounds and six assists in 17 first-half minutes. The score was knotted at 54 at the half.

- The Mavericks outshot the Lakers 51.3 percent (20-of-39) to 41.5 percent (17-of-41) from the field in the first half. But Los Angeles went 8-of-16 (.500) from deep in the first half (compared to Dallas’ 3-of-6 clip) and the score was tied at 54 at the break.

- The Lakers were winless this season on the front end of road/road back-to-backs (0-6) before the victory over the Mavericks.

- The Lakers came in having the fifth-worst scoring bench in the league at 14.6 points per game. Their bench had 29 points against Dallas.

Here is the quoteboard for the Mavericks’ loss to the Lakers.

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Evolution of Leadership and Toughness

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on February 19, 2013 under Commentary | 3 Comments to Read

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It was a rare site during All-Star weekend as the Dallas Mavericks organization was not really accounted for during the league’s weekend of celebration. You can count Dahntay Jones’ random participation as an assistant to Utah’s Jeremy Evans during the dunk contest, but it was still weird to not see Dirk Nowitzki rubbing shoulders with the league’s elite players in Houston. Prior to this year’s break in Houston, Nowitzki had been part of the last 13 All-Star weekends – as a 3-point shootout participant in two before his 11-year All-Star streak.

Even with that absence during All-Star weekend, Dirk still found a way to have his name mentioned during the break. The mention actually came from an unexpected source, one Michael Jeffrey Jordan. Wright Thompson is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine. Wright took the opportunity to follow Jordan as he’s 50th birthday was approaching and chronicled the interesting story of his life and how he struggles moving forward. It’s highly recommended reading. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, let’s dig in on what MJ said about Dirk.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 89, Los Angeles Lakers 115

Posted by Kirk Henderson on November 25, 2012 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

flood

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 would be incredibly easy to simply chalk this loss up to excellent shooting by the Lakers (48.8%) and horrid shooting by the Mavericks (37%). The shooting played a part, yes, but the Lakers did a phenomenal job of exploiting every single weakness of this Dallas team.
  • With Shawn Marion (10 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals) covering one of the league’s best in Kobe Bryant (19 points, five assists), O.J. Mayo guarded Metta World Peace (19 points, six rebounds) and clearly he took his assignment too lightly. MWP hit his first open three with Mayo nowhere in sight, followed that up with a pair of driving layups, and then hit another three Mayo challenged late. World Peace scored all ten points in the first four minutes of the game. That lack of attention to detail set the tone for Dallas for the remainder of the night.
  • Dallas cannot find a way to effectively guard the pick and roll as of this point in the season. Recently, Carlisle has opted to have the big man, usually Chris Kaman (four points, three rebounds), show high on the pick and roll to slow down the ball handler.  Unfortunately, he does not have the lateral quickness to recover when the opposing screener rolls or slips the screen,  forcing a rotation from the baseline which essentially breaks down the entire Maverick defensive structure.  When that screener is someone like Pau Gasol (13 points, nine rebounds, three assists) it wreaks havoc on the Dallas defense as there is often not anyone to protect the rim when these defensive rotations occur.
  • To be fair to Kaman, he’s not the only Dallas big man who is having this issue. Elton Brand (four rebounds, one assist) and Troy Murphy (two rebounds) are all well past the point to where they can consistently recover on a constant barrage of pick and rolls. Brandan Wright (six points, one rebound) and Bernard James (seven points, five rebounds, four blocks) are each much better about showing and recovering, but Carlisle has been reluctant to use them for larger stretches.
  • I’d like to be wrong about this, but it seems as if Darren Collison (two points, four assists, four turnovers) is always shocked when he runs into a screen on defense. One and a half minutes into the game he was knocked down by a Dwight Howard (15 points, seven rebounds, five steals, two blocks) screen that Elton Brand was clearly calling out. Collison seems to get hung up on most of the screens set by opposing offenses. Pair that with the Dallas big men being unable to recover fast enough, and we see Dallas getting exploited in the paint with alarming regularity as of late.
  • The Lakers marginalized Collison, as he shot one for ten from the floor and made some silly turnovers in the process. The Lakers limited his ability to penetrate on the right side of the floor with his strong hand where he is most productive. As a result he mostly able to penetrate on the left side of the floor with his off hand where he was often met by Dwight Howard and had to adjust his shot accordingly. Collison’s outside shots were mostly uncontested and they simply wouldn’t fall.  Oddly enough, this season Collison has been brutal in the 10-15 foot range, shooting 24%.
  • The Lakers picked up the Dallas ball handlers just after half court with intense pressure, seeming to dare the Maverick guards to drive.  The result was that Dallas struggled to get into their offense in a timely manner. Collison, Dominque Jones (two points, three assists), and Rodrigue Beaubois (eight points, six assists) all acted as if they hadn’t dealt with half court pressure before.
  • Dallas also has an offensive screening problem.  I need to see more film, but O.J. Mayo (13 points, three rebounds) does a very poor job coming off screens to get the ball out of initial offensive sets. In theory, one is supposed to run one’s man into the screener by running off him, even rubbing shoulders with the screener if need be. It’s how someone like Ray Allen can play into his late 30′s.  Mayo often (but not always) runs without purpose, and the screener is often forced to step towards his man, which is a great chance to pick up an offensive foul. Mayo needs to run his man into the screener so he can have more time once he catches the ball on the wing.
  • The fault doesn’t purely lie with Mayo, however.  Outside of Bernard James, the current Dallas bigs are not excellent screeners. This is one area Dirk does not get near enough credit for, and one area where he’ll help immediately upon his return (that he’s able to roll, slip, and flare for the league’s prettiest jump shot also helps in that area).
  • Not to keep picking on Mayo, but his inability to operate out of a pick and roll where he is the primary ball handler is confusing. Though he only accounted for two turnovers, I counted four separate occasions where he attempted to split a hedge trap from the Lakers, only to fall over, dribble off someone’s foot, or make a bad pass.
  • Part of this can be attributed to the Laker defense and some can be attributed to Mayo trying to force the issue since Dallas was down big.  But this isn’t the first game I’ve seen this.  I was confused by the “hero ball” in the Golden State overtime loss; Mayo scored all of his points in transition or playing one on one, there was no chance of a two man game.  Mayo will have to get better at working out of pick and roll opportunities in order to thrive in Carlisle’s offense.
  • It’s a bit odd that Vince Carter(16 points on ten shots) has become a stabilizing influence off the bench. There were times last year where I’d cringe as he’d enter the game.  Carter helped make the game seem manageable in the first quarter with five points coming within the flow of the offense. He was the only guard who had no trouble dealing with the Laker defensive pressure early in the game.
  • The Laker defense was tremendous, particularly in the paint.  Though Dallas actually committed fewer turnovers than Los Angeles (15 to 19), Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol changed so many shots in the paint they effectively became turnovers. Go look at the shot chart again. The Mavericks had to earn every point in the lane.
  • Elton Brand’s lack of shooting touch is bordering on “Lamar Odom in 2011-2012″.  Last year, Brand shot about 45% from three feet all the way to just inside the three point line.  This year he’s struggling from the ten feet to three point line range, shooting just 13-46 for the year.
  • He missed two free throw jumpers early in the first quarter, each wide open.  If Brand is able to hit those shots, he changes the way the Lakers defend.  Without Dirk, the only player who has shown himself capable of hitting that 15 footer is Brandan Wright (of all people), and he usually does so while moving towards the bucket.  I really do think Brand figures it out, but it’s so painful to watch and he’s an offensive liability at the moment.
  • Speaking of liabilities, there has to be some sort of explanation as to why Troy Murphy saw fourteen minutes tonight.  He did not match up well with any member of the Lakers front court defensively and Pau and Antawn Jamison (19 points, 15 rebounds) simply owned him.  The theory on offense is that he adds some aspect of a stretch four. While he has hit 10 three’s this season, seven of those came in two games; the other seven games Murphy is 3-19 from deep. Until Dirk comes back, we should start seeing more Wright and Sarge and less Murphy.
  • Jae Crowder (15 points, four rebounds, four steals) was one of only four Mavericks to not post a negative plus-minus.  Considering all thirteen Mavericks saw at least ten minutes, this is fairly impressive when one factors in the blowout.  His spot up shooting has been solid, but I’m more impressed by the way he attacks the rim. Most of the Dallas players seemed to dreading contact tonight whereas Crowder seemed to relish in it.
  • I’d be curious to know if Crowder’s shot selection is by design. As you can tell from the shot chart, he takes most of his threes from the free throw line extended area.  It’s challenging for teammates to establish position for offensive rebounds as missed shots from that angle can go a variety of places even if its an on target shot. Given that corner threes are the most efficient three point shot, I’d expect to see him taking more in those locations.
  • Chris Kaman is the lone Maverick who can consistently score with his back to the basket. Tonight as the game wore on, he clearly became frustrated by the Laker defense and drifted farther and farther away from the goal.  Five of his eleven shots came from 15 feet or more from the rim.  Kaman has to force the issue and get to the foul line against talented front lines if Dallas hopes to establish consistent offense.
  • While you can count me among those who think Brandan Wright needs more playing time, its clear why he doesn’t get time.  In his thirteen minutes, he grabbed one rebound.  Wright tries to block some shots which he won’t get to, thus putting himself completely out of rebounding position.  In the fourth there were a couple of occasions where he wildly tried to block a shot only to see his man get an offensive rebound and put back.
  • On ESPN Insider David Thorpe characterized Bernard James as “a legit shot-blocking specialist” after a series of games where Sarge saw time and made an impact. James blocks shots from guards which are made in an attempt to avoid a shot blocker entirely.  His timing and effort were fantastic and he was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise horrible night.
  • That the Lakers were able to put up 115 points without Steve Nash is impressive. The Lakers got 107 points out of their top eight rotation players. Antawn Jamison in particular dominated, with 19 points and 15 rebounds. His 12 defensive rebounds were two less than the entire Dallas starting five.
  • Dwight Howard played an impressive game and yet he still looks fairly slow.  Well, slow for him. With Andrew Bynum out until further notice, the gap between Dwight Howard and any of the other league’s centers is so wide it doesn’t matter if Dwight is only at 80%.  I expect Howard will continue to regain his explosiveness as the season moves along. If that happens and D’Antoni actually opts to use Dwight in pick and roll situations the league is in trouble.
  • The clear difference in the first match up between these teams was the free throw shooting; Dallas shot 14 of 18 while LA managed 12 of 31.  The Lakers managed to nearly double that number tonight, shooting 23 of 34.  The Mavs, on the other hand, struggled mightily, shooting 12 of 22. Particularly strange was the Jae Crowder-Dominique Jones combo shooting zero for seven from the charity stripe. Both players have earned minutes in the rotation, but not hitting free throws is one way back to the bench. Dallas has to hit their free throws against top tier teams.
  • It was nice to see Roddy Beaubois contribute, even in a blow out.  He’s not seen much time as of late, and to dish out six assists and eight points in around eighteen minutes is a good sign, particularly after not playing in two of the last three games.
  • Why Laker fans insist on wanting to trade Pau Gasol is beyond me. He’s easily one of the best pivot men of a generation. Outside of Dirk, there is not another modern European player who has been better. He’s been slow to get going, but I fully expect Pau to have an All-Star caliber season.

Kirk is a member of the Two Man Game family.  Follow him on twitter @KirkSeriousFace 

The Difference: Los Angeles Lakers 112, Dallas Mavericks 108

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 15, 2012 under Recaps | 5 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot Chart — Game Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas95.0113.753.417.014.06.0
Los Angeles117.948.929.029.46.3

You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.

  • This was a game that deserved to go into overtime, and unlike far too many extra-period affairs of the post-lockout season, actually behooved its audience to. Dallas may have bogged itself down into isolating Dirk Nowitzki (24 points, 9-28 FG, 3-8 3FG, 14 rebounds) at times in an effort to get him going, but for the most part the Mavericks’ ball movement was quite good; Jason Terry (21 points, 8-15 FG, 5-6 3FG, four assists) and Delonte West (20 points, 9-15 FG) both did wonderful work as shot creators, and the entire offense was built on and benefited from the virtues of the extra pass. Sadly, execution doesn’t always lead to elite efficiency; try as the Mavs might to work the ball around and make the right plays, Nowitzki’s shooting struggles and the Lakers’ ability to apply defensive pressure in all the right places kept this a wide-open game. Meanwhile, the Lakers sans Kobe were in a position to exploit the necessity of the Mavs’ over-helping; only Brendan Haywood had the hope of checking Andrew Bynum without a double team, a fact which essentially required that each of Ian Mahinmi and Brandan Wright’s minutes be plagued with openings on the weak side. It wasn’t the fault of Jason Kidd (who was often caught cheating off of his man to help on Bynum), or even Wright. It’s merely the reality of this rotation, and if these two teams meet in a potential first-round series, it’s a reality the Mavericks will have to confront on more specific terms. (One related thought: A potential factor that could oddly make the Lakers’ swing passing more manageable from a Maverick perspective? Kobe Bryant. Players so brilliant rarely make decisions as oddly short-sighted as those Bryant makes with regularity. He may think three moves ahead of his defender in the post, but basketball chess games last a bit longer than three moves.)
  • There’s no use in demanding perfection of any team at this stage in the season, particularly one that has seen as much in-season variance as these Mavericks. That said, is it enough to be pleased with strong effort and decent execution against an opponent missing a star? I was going to say that this game sums up Dallas’ season nicely, but perhaps that response does so even more aptly.

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The Difference: Los Angeles Lakers 109, Dallas Mavericks 93

Posted by Rob Mahoney on March 22, 2012 under Recaps | 12 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas92.092.645.121.08.711.7
San Antonio110.654.012.528.613.8

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 basketball gods had seemingly arranged a game for Andrew Bynum to dominate, and yet just about every Laker but Bynum (nine points, 4-5 FG, seven rebounds) dominated. Some credit goes to the Mavs for throwing an extra defender Bynum’s way quickly, but this was no defensive victory; as much as I would love to shower praise on Ian Mahinmi and Brandan Wright (who, to be clear, did play effective defense), Bynum’s lack of shot attempts was purely a product of the Lakers’ otherwise dominant offense. It certainly didn’t seem as if L.A. was too focused on establishing Bynum on the block via re-post — and it didn’t matter a bit, as the Lakers’ off-ball movement ended up deciding the game.
  • In Shawn Marion and Delonte West’s absence, Jason Kidd was forced to take primary on-ball responsibility against Kobe Bryant (30 points, 11-18 FG, five rebounds, four assists, four turnovers). He honestly did what he could; there have been games this season where Kidd’s defensive effort is fleeting, but this was not one of them. He bodied Bryant when he could, tried to deny him the ball as much as possible, and yet few of his efforts produced favorable defensive outcomes. There were many instances in which Kidd played textbook defense only to be bested by Kobe being Kobe — a demonstration of dominance that at once must be both maddening and shrug worthy. Bryant worked hard to free himself up for quality shot attempts, and though not all of his shots were carefully chosen, it was hard to fault this particular process (particularly when juxtaposed with Bryant’s occasional ball-dominating ways).
  • Both teams started this game with a ridiculous, extended rally of mid-range jumpers. The Mavericks merely failed to adapt once those shots stopped falling, and as for the Lakers — well, I’m not sure those shots ever did. It was just jumper after jumper after jumper, largely produced through quality play action.
  • Jason Terry (23 points, 8-14 FG, 3-6 3FG, zero turnovers) is a masterful practitioner of the pick and roll, and though his ball-handling judgment has been questionable in recent weeks, his approach was perfectly on-point on Wednesday. Los Angeles trapped Terry fairly hard in pick-and-roll situations, but he managed to play his way out of and around them. JET walked the line of aggressive scoring and steady playmaking with perfect balance, a fact betrayed by Terry’s misleading goose egg in the assist column. Don’t be fooled; Terry did an excellent job of messing up his teammates, even if some unfortunate misses robbed him of any box score glory.

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The Difference: Los Angeles Lakers 96, Dallas Mavericks 91

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 23, 2012 under Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas88.0103.444.417.839.611.0
Los Angeles109.151.340.837.015.9

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 Mavs are undoubtedly disappointed in their collective inability to capitalize on the opportunities presented them, but ultimately, this was a pretty commendable effort. Lamar Odom, Delonte West, and Rodrigue Beaubois were out of the lineup, leaving Brian Cardinal (three points, 1-4 FG) and Yi Jianlian (four points, 2-3 FG) to play significant minutes. Pau Gasol played solid defense on Dirk Nowitzki (25 points, 9-22 FG, 12 rebounds), and prevented him from dominating offensively. Dallas shot .250 from beyond the arc, and .400 from the field overall. Yet both teams were deadlocked virtually every step of the way in the second half, a literalization of the seeding battle between Western Conference teams. The Mavs and Lakers are both talented teams capable of making the Western Conference Finals, and the same could be said of about half a dozen other clubs. It’s all going to come down to minor differences in record and the random resulting matchups, much like this particular game was ultimately determined by a thin margin and specific matchup advantages.
  • Even in a season of spectacular defensive performances, this may be Shawn Marion’s showpiece. Kobe Bryant (15 points, 4-15 FG, four assists, five rebounds, seven turnovers) is among the toughest covers in the league, but Marion blanketed him step for step, forced him into tough, contested shots, and goaded Bryant into taking long three-pointers born of frustration. You can’t ask for better primary defense on an opponent’s top offensive player, and though Gasol (24 points, 11-18 FG, nine rebounds, four assists, five turnovers) and Andrew Bynum (19 points, 6-10 FG, 14 rebounds, three assists) were able to make up for Kobe’s shackles with highly efficient interior play, Marion’s defense alone gave the Mavs a legitimate chance to win this game. (On a related note: No Maverick needs the All-Star break more than Shawn Marion. I wish him a long weekend of nonexistent mornings, catnaps, and time away from the court.)

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The Difference: Los Angeles Lakers 73, Dallas Mavericks 70

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 17, 2012 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas90.077.837.520.022.416.7
Los Angeles81.138.825.013.612.2

You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.

  • Let’s get one thing straight: Derek Fisher’s game-winning three-pointer was a stroke of mercy. A competitive game is not necessarily a good one, and though the Mavs put themselves in a position to sneak a win on a tough night on the road, Fisher’s spot-up three saved us all from (at least) five more minutes of basketball misery. I’m sure Dallas would love to have a mulligan on a few of their more pitiful possessions, but perhaps a game of this ilk is better left dead. The defensive activity displayed by both teams was excellent, but energetic D against unstable O makes for a horrid mess. Nothing about either team’s total performance should be glorified; there’s simply too much for both the Mavs and the Lakers to figure out about the workings of their respective offenses, and too much muddled by terrible play to really determine anything meaningful and specific about either team’s defense. Poor shooting is the great equalizer, and though one could certainly build a case in support of the defensive efforts of either team, I have a hard time seeing this outing as anything other than Dallas and Los Angeles attempting to out-miss one another. I guess the Mavs won.

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