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 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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Everything delayed today, all in the name of my beloved schoolwork.
- Gotta feel for the Suns. In a perfect world, I would love to see Phoenix make the playoffs, and I’d love for the Mavs to play them and relive their battles of old. But at this point, that’s just not happening. As powerful as last night’s win was in the standings, it was even more powerful in the minds of the Suns’ players, who are feeling the after effects of a lost opportunity. From Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune: “No, all Tuesday’s loss did was stamp an official date on the death certificate. You could see it on the Suns’ faces as they trudged off the court, not a word being spoken, and you could hear it in their words in a locker room that seemed more like a mausoleum. Oh, they tried to offer some hope, Gentry saying the season isn’t over and Jason Richardson trumpeting the players’ belief in each other, but then Nash came out and told the truth. The Suns are finished. Unless Phoenix does something miraculous in the next month, it will miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2003-04 season.”
- J.J. Barea summed up that last point rather succinctly (via Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News): “‘This one,’ said Barea, ‘hurts them.’”
- RIP, Reunion Arena. So many great Mavs memories for me at Reunion, and on top of it all, my high school graduation was there. A fitting way for a Maverick fan to transition from one stage of life into another, and despite the fact that the American Airlines Center blows it out of the water, I’m gonna miss that place.
- Dan Filowitz of The Disciples of Clyde wants to play a game: “Do you know who I am? This year, I’m averaging 25.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, on 47.5% from the field, 90.6% from the line, and 38% from three. My PER is 22.5, my True Shooting % is 56.3%. And yet, you don’t hear me talked about very often. This isn’t the first time I’ve put up good numbers. I’ve been to the last eight All Star games. I’ve won an MVP. My career averages are 22.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and a PER of 23.8. And still, I’m not getting on the cover of magazines, or slobbering Internet coverage, or widely-viewed YouTube mixes. I’m not doing this all for a crap team. My team has just about 40 wins, and is most likely going to make the playoffs. Again. And yet, you probably can’t guess who I am. Can you?” Still don’t know? Get out. Or, check out Skeets’ hint image at Ball Don’t Lie.
- One of the worst feelings in basketball, as a player or a fan, is knowing that when a certain opposing player gets the ball, there is no way to stop him. The Mavs have had plenty of experience with helplessness, with Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, and even the Suns’ Amare Stoudemire. But last night it was the Suns’ turn, and they felt the full wrath of Dirk on a night where the only person that could stop him was himself. From Michael Schwartz of Valley of the Suns: You’ve got to give the Mavs credit for doing something I don’t believe is done enough in this league, and that is finding a play that the other team can’t guard and then milking it all the way to a ‘W.’ As hard as he tried, the 6-foot-7 Barnes could not guard Nowitzki. He did a nice job getting up in Dirk’s grill and making him take contested shots, but once Dirk caught fire NBA Jam style in the second half, there was nothing Barnes could do to offset five inches of height and his opponent’s silky smooth jumper. The Suns tried denying the entry feed around the free-throw line, where Dirk punished the smaller Suns all half, but as head coach Alvin Gentry astutely asserted, he’s seven feel tall so when they throw the ball up in the air he’s going to catch it. Once Dirk caught it, the ball was going in the basket. ‘We tried to make him take tough shots,’ Barnes said. ‘I swear I had him off balance with a hand in his face, and they would hit the rim, hit the rim again and just go in or hit the back of the rim and go in. He hit a lot of tough shots, and that’s what he does. I just tried to make him work for his shots, but he got hot in the second half.’ Added Gentry, ‘I don’t know what more Matt could have done. There is a reason they pay him a whole lot of money because he is a helluva player, and he made a lot of great shots. That’s all I can ask guys. I’m telling you, all I can ask the guys to do is play as hard as they can and try to do the best they can.’”
- “With or withouttttttt you.”: John Schuhmann takes a look at a variety of teams’ performances with and without their injured players at NBA.com.