You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin, give or take a dozen or so considering the ridiculous scoring margin of this game.
It’s hard to ask for more in a bounce-back game. The Mavs completely smothered a solid offensive team, they cleaned the glass, got quality shot attempts all around, Kept Monta Ellis (18 points, 7-18 FG, four assists, three turnovers) and Steph Curry (11 points, 4-12 FG, six rebounds, six assists) relatively quiet, and contested the hell out of everything. Wins against the Warriors only mean so much, but Dallas needed this game, and more importantly they needed a performance as dominant as this one. It’s hopefully only the beginning of a renewed commitment to defensive detail.
Not only do the Warriors lack even a single notable defender to counter Dirk Nowitzki (20 points, 9-15 FG, six rebounds), but they no longer even have a pesky, high-risk defender (a la Stephen Jackson) to cause problems with speed and active hands. David Lee was visibly frustrated in trying to defend Nowitzki, and the other defenders Golden State threw at Dirk probably should have been frustrated. Lou Amundson, Ekpe Udoh, and a handful of others had their shot, and not one of them did a passable job of defending the Mavs’ headliner. (One exception: Udoh’s on-ball block on a Dirk jumper early in the fourth quarter. A good play, but not exactly consistent with the Warriors’ total body of work in defending Nowitzki in this one )
Tyson Chandler (seven points, 17 rebounds) and Ian Mahinmi (nine points, 13 rebounds) were both glorious, which is the kind of thing that tends to happen against poor rebounding teams without competent defensive bigs. No sign of Brendan Haywood, but it didn’t matter in the slightest; Chandler and Mahinmi did excellent work on both ends of the court, and their rebounding totals speak for themselves. Standing O for the Maverick center corps, even if Haywood just had a view from the sidelines.
Peja Stojakovic (17 points, 6-11 FG, 5-8 3FG) had a tremendous game, largely because his threes were falling. Stojakovic made a trio of three-pointers in the first minute and a half of the third quarter, despite the fact that he hadn’t played since March 7th. Good on him for coming out guns a’blazing. That said, a game like this one speaks to how random Stojakovic’s good and poor games really are. There are plenty of nights when Peja is a non-factor, and he leaves the game with only a handful of shooting attempts. However, often the only significant difference between this kind of showing and his 2-of-8 nights is the outcome of his attempts. Stojakovic doesn’t really force shot attempts, meaning that those shots he does take are typically open ones. On Sunday, those shots fell. In other games, they won’t. But how does Rick Carlisle go about getting production from an offense-only player (or on another level, how does Carlisle decide when to play Stojakovic and when to pull him) whose most significant offensive flaw is the fact that he can’t make every shot? Stojakovic may be limited, but he stays within himself, so much so that his production is almost entirely reduced to the open three-pointer make-miss binary.
I find Udoh’s defensive potential incredibly intriguing, but the guy just isn’t an NBA-ready offensive player. He can grab the occasional bucket off a cut or offensive board, but he doesn’t have any kind of high or low post game and isn’t even a serious pick-and-roll threat. Even for a team that so badly needs his defensive impact, that’s a problem.
Good to see: Dallas had no intent to give up easy looks inside. The Mavs contested well even when various Warriors got all the way to the rim, and in the cases when the back line was out of position, the Maverick bigs took hard, limiting fouls.
This was fun:
I can’t remember the last Warriors game I saw in which I though Golden State utilized Reggie Williams as much as they should. Williams had a nice run during the Warriors’ D-League call-up rush last season, but on a healthy roster Williams tends to get lost in the shuffle. Their loss.
Nowitzki did a pretty nice job of hedging on pick-and-rolls, which isn’t exactly a staple in his game. Dirk isn’t the most mobile big around, but he was able to stall Monta Ellis in a potentially dangerous situation long enough for a perimeter player to recover. Claims of Nowitzki’s defensive ineptitude are still largely hyperbolized, but it’s still nice to see him deter a Maverick-killer like Ellis from turning the corner on screens.
Dallas played a good offensive game against Golden State, but not a great one. That said, it’s good to see this team get to the free throw line with notable frequency, grab plenty of offensive boards, and execute for good attempts. The turnovers could still stand to go down and the shots didn’t always fall, but this was a pretty sound offensive outing.
Rodrigue Beaubois (15 points, 5-11 FG, four rebounds, four assists, five turnovers) has done an outstanding job of putting pressure on opposing defenses in the last few games. Beaubois can become a bit passive for stretches, but he wasn’t settling for step-back threes or mere spot-up attempts in this one; drives into the paint were commonplace, and from that point Beaubois was creating scoring opportunities at the rim or kicking out to his teammates for open jumpers.
One note about Beaubois’ abilities as a drive-and-kick player: his kick-out passes tend to sail a bit. The accuracy is there, but by lobbing those passes a bit more than he should, Beaubois negates some of the impact of his drive and wastes precious time in the open shooting window for his teammates. Even a bit more arc on those feeds allows defenders time to adjust and contest, so bringing those kick-out passes down a bit could go a long way in picking up Beaubois’ passing effectiveness.
All you need to know: there were sequences in this game in which Vladimir Radmanovic was used as a token center. I know Andris Biedrins was out with injury and David Lee had foul trouble at times, but once you’ve reached that point in the rotation, why bother with convention? Throw another wing out there and see what happens. Worst case scenario, Dorrell Wright or some other forward gives up buckets inside. Best case: you might be able to cut into that deficit with hot shooting, or even be able to shoot Tyson Chandler off the floor if he doesn’t chase his man all the way to the three-point line. Radmanovic is no answer, regardless.
Dallas does more odd defensive cross-matching than any team in the league. It’s certainly not uncommon to see a given team swap coverage among PG-SG, SG-SF, or PF-C, but the Mavs are the only team that regularly pits their starting point guard — Jason Kidd — against opposing small forwards with regularity. Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler are constantly flipping coverages to pit Chandler against the greater offensive threat, and Carlisle switches up Beaubois, Kidd, DeShawn Stevenson, Jason Terry, and J.J. Barea all the time. PER allowed by position may be more irrelevant for the Mavs than any other players in the league.
An odd sequence with 32 seconds remaining in the first half: David Lee attempts to back down Beaubois from the wing, but makes no progress whatsoever after a few seconds’ work. Incredible, right? Well, it’s less so after a closer inspection, as Beaubois appeared to be giving Lee a double arm-bar to the back, the bane of post players everywhere and — as I understand it — an automatic foul.
To the Mavs’ credit, one of their greater defensive successes for the evening was limiting Golden State’s explosive scoring potential. Basketball is a game of runs and all that, but the most notable spurt in the Warriors’ favor was an 11-2 burst toward the beginning of the second half. That’s a victory to take on a purely independent basis; the overall defensive execution was marvelous, but to quash every run is pretty spectacular on its own merit.
The Warriors may have been a great landing spot for Al Thornton (eight points, 2-7 FG, four rebounds, two turnovers) in terms of a team that’s able to artificially inflate his stats despite limited minutes, but I’m not sure a style that facilitates his ability to take quick, poorly chosen shots is the best thing for his development as a player. Horrible shot selection was already among Thornton’s vices, and life as a Warrior certainly hasn’t done much to change him.
A few weeks into his Maverick career, I still don’t see Corey Brewer’s incredible defensive ability. He’s certainly effective on that end, but I see nothing to demand time on the floor, particularly when he’s — as Corey Brewer is ought to do — airballing three-point attempts from the corner.
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 trailed by 18 points in the first quarter, and came back to win this game in spite of themselves. Hooray? Victories are certainly valuable (particularly with the Mavs now in a tie with the Lakers for the West’s second seed), but I doubt this game did anything to quell the doubts many have about this team’s playoff chances. If Dallas is a contender, they’re certainly the most vulnerable of the bunch.
Initial shot defense may not have been the problem on Tuesday against the Blazers, but Dallas did a horrendous job of contesting the Warriors’ opportunities or limiting their shots at the rim. It wasn’t just the perimeter defenders, either; Tyson Chandler and Dirk Nowitzki were routinely caught out of position as they stared down an uncontested Golden State dunk or layup. When Vladimir Radmanovic is rolling to the rim untouched for a slam off a pick-and-roll, the defense probably isn’t working properly. Chandler has certainly done a lot to improve Dallas’ defensive execution this season, but his impact has probably been overstated through the second half of the season. There’s no question that Chandler is a positive influence, but if the Mavs aren’t limiting opponents to a reasonable number of points per possession, then all of the laudation rings hollow.
Dirk Nowitzki had another remarkably efficient scoring performance that was somehow still unremarkable by his own ridiculous standard. 34 points on 22 shots is in no way normal, but that’s just the kind of thing that Dirk does. To add 13 boards to help round out Nowitzki’s overall line should be considered unfair, but while that sum is well above his season and career averages, this was just another nice rebounding effort. An interesting wrinkle in this one, though: Nowitzki hit the offensive glass hard in this game, and finished with six boards on that end. Some of those rebounds came off of his own blown attempts from the paint mind you, but that offensive rebounding total is still quite notable.
Also working the glass: Jason Terry (19 points, 7-12 FG, six assists, six rebounds). JET grabbed six boards of his own, and they weren’t caroms that managed to bounce their way to a grounded guard. Terry really worked to contribute in that regard, and occasionally took rebounds away from the Warrior bigs. It’d also be a shame not to make mention of Terry’s scoring impact, as he provided crucial baskets to empower the Mavs during their various rallies. JET’s jumper was working but he also didn’t shy away from driving to the rim, and the Warriors’ lack of shot-blocking or rotating bigs provided plenty of opportunities for Terry to get to the cup.
Rodrigue Beaubois (18 points, 7-11 FG, four assists, four steals) played a career-high 37 minutes, in part because Rick Carlisle utilized him in a three-guard lineup featuring Terry and Jason Kidd (four points, 1-6 FG, 11 assists, five rebounds, four turnovers) in addition to more conventional five-man units. Beaubois was as spectacular offensively as his stat line suggests, but he also did a tremendous defensive job guarding Monta Ellis (26 points, 10-20 FG, 11 assists, six rebounds, five turnovers). Corey Brewer started the night on Ellis duty, but after a relatively short stint in the first quarter, it was Beaubois who primarily defended the high-scoring guard. Ellis dropped 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the first frame, but went just 4-of-13 for 13 points the rest of the way (excluding a stint when Beaubois was on the bench) while being defended by a combination of Beaubois and Terry. Though an intriguing defensive prospect, Beaubois didn’t exactly produce on that end during his rookie year, so to see such significant improvement over the last two games in that aspect of his play is promising.
Honorary ‘Mavs Allow a Marginal Player to Make a Substantial Impact’ selection: Acie Law (15 points, 5-7 FG, six assists), who had the game of his life. Dallas has been better about limiting role players this season, but Law somehow squeaked through the cracks…possibly because he’s not even rightfully considered a role player. Law isn’t a rotation-quality NBA guard, and yet he dominated against Dallas’ horrendous defense.
There are few things sports fans cling to as tightly as a good underdog story, and Jeremy Lin’s tour with the Mavs through Summer League as an undrafted free agent has endeared him to NBA fans and writers all across the internets. Here is just a sample of the responses to Lin’s decision to sign with the Golden State Warriors:
Jeremy Lin’s agent, Roger Montgomery, via the Dallas Morning News: “All the components fell in place, especially when you look at their roster. They’ve basically got three guys who are ahead of us. We can be nothing but appreciative because we wouldn’t be in this position if Donnie Nelson and the Mavericks didn’t give Jeremy Lin a chance…He may put on a Golden State jersey, but he definitely is very, very appreciative of the shot that Donnie and the Mavs gave him.”
Matt Moore, NBA FanHouse: “Lin makes sense for the Warriors, who traded C.J. Watson to the Bulls this weekend. Stephen Curry is obviously the star,and Monta Ellis will play the backup role, but Lin provides a good skill set for a third point guard and could flourish in Don Nelson’s system, unless, you know, Don Nelson Don-Nelson’s him. The fact that he’s Asian-American (Taiwanese American, to be specific), will likely make him a hit with the Bay’s fervent community. But beyond the cliche racial implications is the fact that he’s a local boy who made the most of himself, worked his tail off, and now has a big league contract. This is a better ending to the tale than playing toy soldier for the Lakers or working in the Mavericks‘ new D-League team, the Texas Legends.”
Scott Schroeder, Ridiculous Upside: “I don’t wish to offend anyone, but I have a feeling that Lin’s Asian-American background played a rather substantial role in what seems to have amounted to a bidding war between two teams with substantial Asian communities – the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State – as well as the Dallas Mavericks (who previously showed to have interest in signing and assigning Lin to their new NBA Development League team). I don’t mean to infer that Lin isn’t worth an NBA training camp invite (he most certainly is), but I do feel that his race had a prominent role in his getting a better contract than probably any other player without prior NBA experience this offseason.
I went back and watched every one of Lin’s offensive possessions – right around 85 by my count – and he’s a pretty solid player (might be better on defense with his size and instincts, honestly), but not one that I wouldn’t make earn his job in training camp by all but guaranteeing he’ll be on an NBA roster at least until all contracts become fully-guaranteed on January 5, 2011.
Brian McCormick, Director of Coaching at the Playmakers Basketball Developmental League: “While basketball fans concentrate on the athleticism of John Wall or the psychology of DeMarcus Cousins, from a developmental perspective, Jeremy Lin is the most important rookie in the 2010 class…I am not interested in the economic impact of a successful Asian-American player. My focus is developmental. We spend too much time looking at race, and not enough time controlling things within our control – our effort, skill development, practice habits and more. Once one player breaks through the perceived barrier, it becomes easier for others to set higher standards for themselves.
From a developmental perspective, I am interested in eliminating excuses. I want players to create their own positive self-fulfilling prophecies rather than allow prevailing myths to create a perpetually negative self-fulfilling prophecy to limit one’s dreams, goals and effort. Jeremy Lin may never be an NBA all-star. However, his impact as a player may not be felt immediately; instead, his greatest impact may be felt a generation from now when young Asian-Americans no longer view college or professional basketball as an unattainable dream, but a worthwhile goal to pursue diligently.”
Kurt Helin, ProBasketballTalk: “Lin might well make the Warriors, however. Stephen Curry is going to get the lion’s share of minutes at the point, and Monta Ellis will get some, but the Warriors just traded away last season’s backup C.J. Watson. They need a backup point now, and Lin is going to get the chance to get the job.
Lin won over Summer League fans in Vegas because he plays a fearless game. Nobody attacked the rim as hard as him, as relentlessly. His game is not fully NBA ready — got to improve his jumper, he’s got to finish at a higher rate near the rim. But he has a great feel for the game, makes smart passes and is the kind of guy that will change the mood of a practice because he will not coast. Coaches love players who maximize their talents, and Lin is one of those guys.”
Eric Freeman, The Baseline: “This is a phenomenal story. Lin would be the first Asian-American athlete to play in the NBA and the first Harvard product in more than 50 years. In case you forget, Harvard doesn’t hand out scholarships, so Lin entered college with no publicity. He’s a real success story, someone who worked his way to the NBA when few believed he could do it.
Yet his story goes even deeper than that. At Palo Alto High School, Lin led his team to the 2006 state championship and defeated SoCal powerhouse Mater Dei (a team with no fewer than four high-level college prospects) virtually by himself. It was one of the biggest upsets in California basketball history and made Lin a Bay Area legend. Still, his exploits weren’t enough to get him a scholarship. Lin wanted to go to Stanford and was accepted to the school as part of the normal admissions process, but the coaching staff only offered him the opportunity to walk on. (Two guards awardedscholarships during the same recruiting cycle accomplished very little for the Cardinal.) So he went to Harvard, where he had the chance to play early and often. He proved that he belonged quite quickly.”
The Beaubois debate rages on, but before you light up your torches, grab your pitchforks, and head over to Rick Carlisle’s place, keep this in mind (from Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News): “And even the most diehard Roddy fans must remember that not every game is going to be like Saturday’s. When Beaubois doesn’t have his shot working and becomes a liability on defense, he deserves to sit – just like any other player.” I think we’ve entered the stage of the season where given Roddy’s ability to produce, DNP-CDs shouldn’t even been an option. I don’t think there’s any excuse not to give him a shot, but that doesn’t mean we won’t hear any.
Did you know that Dirk Nowitzki has scored more points in a single game against the Charlotte Bobcats (the league’s 3rd ranked defense) than any other Bobcat opponent this season? (Per NBA.com’s John Schuhmann.)
Caron Butler’s technical foul from Thursday night’s game against the Trailblazers, which from the TNT broadcast seemed like poor judgment on the part of the baseline official, was apparently assessed the tech for a comment he made to fans sitting sidelined (as was indicated by Mark Followill the nightof). Whatever he said was bad enough to cost him $25k, apparently.
Adam Lauridsen of Fast Break: “With the exception of watching Rodrigue Beaubois go Brandon Jennings on the Warriors, Saturday night’s game was one of the toughest tests yet this season of Warriors fans’ pain thresholds. Anyone who watched this entire game at the Arena without the benefit of libations or at home without the benefit of a DVR deserves combat pay from the Warriors. Loyalty rewarded, right?”
“I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”
Unreal. Did this possibility even cross your mind last June, when the Mavs drafted a semi-unknown French point guard? Roddy has come such a long way since draft night, and he still has miles to go before he sleeps. Rodrigue Beaubois is going to be a star in this league for a very long time, and this was a giant hop toward that stardom. It’s going to hinge on a ton of factors that are too tough to gauge right now, but his climb seems inevitable at this point. Rookie seasons can yield many mirages, but I don’t think you can explain away Beaubois’ talent, physical tools, and natural instincts. Roddy just looks at home with a basketball in his hands, and with his willingness to learn, talent, and physical tools, he seems like a can’t-miss prospect at this point. I know that’s easy to say after an incredible outburst against one of the worst defenses in the league, but it’s an observation that’s been nearly a season in the making.
The already one-sided debate that’s been raging on over Rodrigue Beaubois’ playing time? It should be nonexistent after tonight. Beaubois went off for 40 points in an absolutely surreal display of shooting prowess, in which he shot 9-of-11 from three and scored just one of his 40 at the line. But here’s the thing: the debate won’t disappear. The fact that Beaubois’ big night came against the Warriors will mark it with an asterisk, and the idea that this is exactly the type of game Beaubois should excel in will somehow demean just how impressive of a game this was for Roddy. It’s not fair, honestly, but I have a bad feeling that the perceptive powers that be will try to negate what we saw on March 27th, 2010. Don’t let them. It was a hot night against a bad defensive team, but this was a thoroughly dominating performance.
That said, the beauty that was this 40-pointer came with Beaubois at the two. This may be some incredible evidence for Roddy’s value as a player, but not really as a point guard. Or basically, we could be right back where we started, simply with confirmation of Beaubois’ value as a scorer.
Other than that, what is there to say? It’s a bit refreshing to have the most dynamic, high-scoring guard on the Mavs’ side of the Dallas-Golden State match-up for once; Monta Ellis (14 points, four assists) and Steph Curry (17 points, seven rebounds, six assists, seven turnovers) each shot 6-for-16 from the field, and neither could stabilize the sloppy Warrior offense. The Mavs’ defense wasn’t all that impressive, though I do appreciate Rick Carlisle’s decision to cover Ellis with Shawn Marion to start the game.
The Warriors just couldn’t shoot. Credit to the Mavs for forcing the Dubs into plenty of long two-pointers, but Golden State missed a ton of open looks from three and completely shut down offensively in the second quarter. The same second quarter that was home to 36 Maverick points, 21 of which were Rodrigue Beaubois’. A 20-2 run and a separate 10-0 run (all Beaubois) in the second pretty much sealed the game. If not for an uncharacteristically high turnover rate for those twelve minutes, it could very well have been the Mavs’ best offensive quarter of the season. I’m pretty sure it was Roddy’s best offensive quarter, regardless.
The Mavs on the other hand, could. Dallas shot 48.4% from the field, and an incredibly impressive 53.3% from three (on 30 attempts!) thanks to Beaubois’ handiwork. Eddie Najera (nine points, nine rebounds, two steals, one block) was an unexpected contributor from the perimeter, where he hit three of his six three-point attempts. Najera saw plenty of court time due to a minor injury (middle finger jam) to Brendan Haywood and the Warriors’ unique style of play, and he played rather well.
Shawn Marion (18 points, 9-12 FG, four rebounds, five steals) had another strong night, and even if the Mavs on the whole aren’t rounding into playoff shape, he certainly has been. He’s been so much more effective with his runners and mid-range game over the last few weeks, and that makes him a pretty effective half-court weapon. He still misses some of his looks at the rim and isn’t a huge threat off the dribble, but Shawn’s value in the offense has improved significantly in about a month’s time. Defensively, Marion was incredibly active in the passing lanes, and if the NBA tracked deflections his stat line would be that much more impressive. Shawn was everywhere, and he was a big reason why one of the more confident offenses in the league looked a bit tentative on Saturday.
Dallas shot just ten free throws and collected just four offensive rebounds. It didn’t make a bit of difference. The Warriors’ shooting was so awful and the Mavs’ shooting so effective that half of the Four Factors were deemed irrelevant. The bottom line, and proof that there’s truth in simplicity: the team that shoots better wins almost every game. Dallas had nearly a 20-point edge in effective field goal percentage, which was more than enough to trump the Mavs’ weaknesses in other areas.
Caron Butler finished with 15 and four, Dirk Nowitzki dropped a 13-10 double-double, and Jason Kidd tallied 11 assists, but this was Rodrigue’s show. The game was never in doubt after the Roddy Show in the second quarter, which mean plenty of rest for the Mavs’ big guns (only Marion played more than 30 minutes).
Brendan Haywood played almost nine minutes, but Erick Dampier did not play at all. Most of the minutes at center went to Najera, with Nowitzki playing back-up.
The Mavs had some serious problems finishing at the rim, despite of the number of uncontested run-outs the Warriors’ defense gifted them. Scoff and shake your head at the Mavs who blew layups (Dirk blew an easy one, Marion airballed a finger roll, and even Roddy couldn’t convert on a fairly rudimentary look), but don’t forget to credit Ronny Turiaf, who only finished with two blocks but was one of the few Warriors interested in playing some real defense.
A mixed bag for J.J. Barea, who finished with five points and five assists in 20 minutes, but also turned the ball over four times. Point guards should be allowed to make mistakes, but high-turnover games like this one don’t really indicate high value as a PG. We know J.J. is better than this, even if our love affair with Roddy makes it tough to admit. Barea is a pretty decent point guard, and for some reason his hands were a bit slippery against Golden State.
Anthony Tolliver had 21 rebounds, including eight on the offensive end. Shame on every GM who thought this guy couldn’t be an NBA player, or who looked to use a roster spot on a name rather than a player. His fellow former D-Leaguers, Reggie Williams and Chris Hunter, weren’t as impressive. But those guys are NBA players, and for everything that has gone wrong with the Warriors this year, their ability to scout D-League and their willingness to sign that talent is pretty much unparalleled.
Two points for Matt Carroll! He had 20% of the Mavs’ free throw attempts, and boy can that guy make his free throws.
Ladies and gentlemen, the ever-quotable Dirk Nowitzki, in reference to Andre Miller’s 52-point night and Monta Ellis’ 46-point night: “That’s what we do. We get guys contract extensions.”
I’m thrilled that guys like Coby Karl and Anthony Tolliver are being called up from the D-League, but they’re not exactly reppin’. Josh Howard went to work against Karl in the post time and time again with plenty of success, and neither Tolliver nor Karl could contribute much of anything in terms of points last night.
The attendance goal for the All-Star Game: 100,000.
Jeff “Skin” Wade can’t help but wonder if Rodrigue Beaubois is already actualizing a bit of his potential as a defensive difference-maker: “After the game Rick Carlisle mentioned that Rodrigue Beaubois is already developing into one of their better on-the-ball defenders out on the perimeter. There’s a need to have him on the floor because of the athleticism he brings to an older team, but with virtually all of his minutes outside of the New York game that Jason Kidd missed coming at the off-guard, he’d be eating into minutes where the Mavs have guys like Jason Terry and Josh Howard who need to be on the floor…Against the Warriors, he received all of the available backup point guard minutes in the second half. I’m fascinated to know what the plan had been had he not gotten hurt against Utah. As the Mavericks try to find ways to keep opposing guards from enjoying career nights against them, will Roddy B at point guard be a factor for his defensive spark as much as the potential for him to get some offense going coming off the bench?”
SLAM’s Holly MacKenzie checked in from Toronto with an important announcement from last night’s Nets-Raptors game: “It was fun to see former Raptor Kris Humphries have a double-double off of the bench. It was not fun having two women scream his name every single time he was even remotely near the Nets bench.” Miss you, buddy.
Del Harris wants to return to work the Frisco-Dallas connection, though it’s not official as of yet whether or not he’ll slide right back in as GM in Frisco.
Chad Ford (Insider) names Josh Howard as one of the 20 players most likely to be moved by the deadline. Here’s his blurb on Josh: “Howard, at age 29, is having the worst season of his career and has struggled to play alongside Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion. But other teams have interest because his contract has a team option for next year, which means a team can acquire him now and decide this summer whether to keep him as player, hold on to him as a 2011 expiring contract or decline the option and take the savings right away. The Raptors and Kings have been rumored to have the most interest.” Just as a note of interest, Caron Butler is listed at #4, Andre Iguodala #5, Kevin Martin #12, and Chris Bosh at #15.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
The Mavs needed this. Not just to avoid going on a four-game losing streak, though that’s certainly important. But even more important than Dallas’ need to not lose was their need to flat-out win. A game like this one isn’t so much about celebrating an end to failure as it is putting together something productive and presenting it in a meaningful way. Success is determined by wins and losses, and though the Mavs have played well for some if not most of 144 losing minutes, it’s crucial that the Mavs find success in 48 minute spurts. In the grand scheme of things, it’s about playing well. But for now, it’s wins and losses that could get the Mavs where they want (and need) to go; anything less than the third seed means a second round collision course with the Lakers, which is no good. As much as I’m sure the Mavs wouldn’t mind soaking up the sun, Los Angeles is not a place you want to be in the playoffs until every other option is exhausted.
So, a nine point win against a team like the Warriors? In which Dallas surrendered a career-high 46 points to Monta Ellis on just 23 shots? It really doesn’t seem like much on paper, but this was kind of big.
First, let’s start with the completely insane: the Mavs’ defense on Monta Ellis was a little bit better than you’d think, based on Ellis’ ridiculously efficient shooting line. He did finish with seven turnovers (a decidedly Monta-like number), and while Jason Terry couldn’t do all that much to slow Ellis down, it wasn’t for lack of effort. I mean, take a look at the shot chart for Ellis. That’s a lot of long two-pointers for a guy who can get to the rim at will, and though I have complete faith in Ellis’ ability to hit the mid-range jumper, that’s pretty much exactly the shot they want Monta taking. He made eight of his 12 attempts from 16-23 feet, which when you think about it, is just stupid good. Some of those were contested and some weren’t, but in terms of shot selection, I think you take those looks over forays into the paint any day. (Only four of Ellis’ 23 attempts came at the rim; that’s about half his season average.)
I mean, there are nights where you make shots, and there are nights where you make this shot (via BDL):
Ellis was the Warriors’ offense last night, as the rest of the roster managed just 38.9% shooting from the field. When Ellis subbed out for a few minutes rest to start the fourth quarter, the Mavs promptly went on a 5-0 run. Without their star in to run the offense or, at the very least, create a shot for himself, the Warriors’ offense completely broke down. Moves and passes on the court were made without purpose, and we were able to see first-hand why Monta Ellis ranks second in the league in minutes per game (41.8 per): the Warriors don’t have any other choice.
We’ve seen similar sequences from the Mavs this season. With Dirk on the bench and Jason Terry and Josh Howard struggling, the Maverick attack was somewhat directionless. Not so against the Warriors. Dirk Nowitzki (20 points, 7-11 FG, seven rebounds) wasn’t the team’s high-scorer and probably wasn’t even the most impressive Maverick; Jason Terry led the Mavs with 21 points and six assists, Shawn Marion scored 18 on a wonderful 11 of 19 from the field (and nine rebounds to boot), and Drew Gooden ran the floor with ease, and punished the Warriors to the tune of 16 points on just nine shots. But Josh Howard, the prodigal son, looked to have finally found his way home. His spot-up three-point stroke still needs some work, but Josh chipped in 19 points on 9-15 shooting, with a couple of assists and rebounds. Howard just looked so natural on the floor, as if his season hasn’t been eclipsed by the dark clouds overhead and some woefully inefficient play. You could easily accuse Howard of being a bit of a black hole, and this season has been no exception. But Howard didn’t force much at all against Golden State, and though his two assists don’t really grab your attention, he wasn’t stopping the ball. I’d almost forgotten what that looked like, but Howard’s game was a pleasant surprise.
In terms of offense, it really was a complete team effort. That’s five Mavs with 16+ points, and Jason Kidd (six points, 16 assists, six steals, four turnovers) orchestrated masterfully. The Mavs ran the ball down the Warriors’ throats to start, and beat Golden State at their own game; Dallas forced turnovers, got out on the break, and built up an early lead. It’s one that the Mavs would never relinquish, although the Warriors did bring the game within four points with 5:11 in the fourth quarter.
I know that sounds like this was another one of those games. But it really wasn’t. The Warriors had clawed their way back from an 18-point deficit, but from the moment they narrowed it to three, the Mavs took off. Or more specifically, Dirk did. Nowitzki scored six straight before the Warriors could even respond, and from that point on the Mavs simply matched Monta Ellis and the Warriors shot for shot. For once, the Mavs weren’t dodging bullets in the final seconds, and honestly it was a bit of a relief. I’m all for the dramatic, but once in awhile it’s nice to just breathe.
Eddie Najera got the start at center, as Erick Dampier sat out another game with a left knee effusion. Najera didn’t contribute much in limited minutes (no points, just one rebound), but did show a bit of his potential value: Najera drew three charges, including two on Monta Ellis. Considering that the only thing that may have kept Ellis from playing the entire fourth quarter was foul trouble, that’s huge.
I couldn’t be happier with Drew Gooden’s shot selection. With a guy like Drew, the last thing you want to see is him fall in love with his own jumper. I thought that might be the case after watching Gooden drain his first jumpshot of the night just 40 seconds after entering the game. But to Drew’s credit, he used that first made jumper as a weapon throughout the night. Ronny Turiaf and Andris Biedrins were the primary covers for Gooden, and after making that first jumper, they were both tempted to respect it. Gooden made the textbook move and turned to the shot fake, which was more than enough to goad the eager Turiaf and Biedrins into a block attempt. A few drives and a few trips to the free throw line later, and you have one of Drew Gooden’s best offensive nights as a Mav (in terms of shot creation).
The Warriors really were not accounting for Shawn Marion. Most of his points just came during broken defensive sets or off of very basic pick-and-roll action, but he looked like a serious offensive weapon against Golden State’s defenders.
Rodrigue Beaubois (eight points, two rebounds, two assists) looked completely healthy after that nasty fall on Monday night. And he actually got some decent burn playing point guard, too. Beaubois played 16 minutes while J.J. Barea played just eight, designating Roddy as the back-up PG of the night. There’s plenty to look forward to, but his play is certainly a reminder that his play at the point is a work in progress. I still see him as a good second string point at the moment, but there’s nothing wrong with bringing him along slowly, getting him in-game experience with minimal pressure, and easing him into the life of an NBA point guard.
Devean George sighting! George scored five points on 2-6 FG for the Warriors, which is about six more points than he ever scored as a Maverick.
Dirk has ditched the large, bulbous elbow brace he’d been wearing for the last month or so in favor of a more traditional arm sleeve. Needless to say, the thinner “brace” didn’t have any kind of negative effect on his shot.
That said, Dirk did injure his right thumb, which has since been declared a mere bruise. So much depends on Dirk’s right hand, and if nothing else, his minor injury reminded us of the mortality of it all.
The Mavs had 32 assists to the Warriors’ 13.
Corey Maggete had 20 points (8-19 FG) and nine rebounds for GS and C.J. Watson had 14 points on 5-10 shooting. It was probably the quietest 34 points I’ve ever seen.
GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT: The Gold Star of the Night goes to Josh Howard. As I mentioned before, Howard not only played well, but played unselfishly. It’s a thing that’s easier said than done for a guy in Josh’s position, and though I know he’s desperate for redemption, that desperation didn’t overcome his fairer basketball instincts.
The Mavs’ game against the Warriors may seem like ancient history at this point, but there’s still plenty to glean from the loss. Despite all of their defensive improvements, the Mavs have shown two different shades of defensive failure against quick point guards (Monta Ellis, Chris Paul). Though other speedy guards have been contained, Ellis’ performance against the Mavs was a reminder that there’s still plenty of work to be done on the defensive end. In this installment of Moving Pictures, we’ll examine exactly what went wrong against the Warriors, point a few fingers on who’s to blame, and hopefully take away some possible adjustments for the future.
Dirk Nowitzki on last night’s loss (via Tim MacMahon): “There are good losses and there are bad losses, and this is definitely a bad one…We just didn’t have it down the stretch. We were a step slow. Offensively, we looked lost. Defensively, they could get to the basket any time they wanted to and they hit some timely 3s. But it’s really our fault.”
Whatever the opposite of a ‘silver lining’ is, Eddie Sefko may have found it: “They were going against a Warriors team that used only six players. Yet they got beat to every loose ball in the fourth quarter and couldn’t keep up with the Warriors’ motion offense. Worse, the Mavericks had to use all their heavy lifters for long, exhausting stretches. That certainly will have an impact on their legs at some point tonight in Houston.”
Adam Lauridsen of Fast Break chimes in with the difference between the Stephen Jackson/Corey Maggette-led Warriors and the younger, more energetic model we saw last night: “With Jackson or Maggette on the court (and Nelson on the sideline), the response to the second-half adversity would have likely been to pound the ball in one or two mismatches while everyone else stood around. Instead, with Jackson gone and Maggette and Nelson out, Smart had the team stick with a simple attack — let Monta look for early shot-clock seams in the defense, and provide safety valves at the three point arc in the form of Morrow, Curry, and Radmanovic. The plan hit some rough patches, but it ultimately proved to be enough to bring home the win.”
Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie has a fair assessment of last night’s perimeter dynamics: “With just six players on hand, while playing its fourth game in five nights, the Warriors looked as fresh and as active as they’ve looked in years. The ball movement was spot on, heaps of extra passes, and Golden State worked a quickness advantage. Actually, the Warriors didn’t really blow past the slower Maverick backcourt. It just turned out that Monta Ellis (37 points, eight assists, four steals, 11 turnovers; seriously) and Stephen Curry (18 points, six assists) went nuts on the Dallas D.”
“We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret of disappointment.”
Somehow it’s only fitting that when the Mavs are on the cusp of elite status, some familiar demons push them down a peg. I couldn’t care less that they were wearing Warriors uniforms, but yet again, quick point guards had their way with the Dallas defense time and time again, and the results were downright depressing.
Nothing in this game quite turned out as it should. That much should have been certain from the opening tip, when the probable turned questionable turned out Shawn Marion found his way to the bench in a suit. That much should have been certain when the normally careful, deliberate Mavs offense was turning the ball over just for fun. That much should have been certain when the impressive Mavs defense suddenly collapsed on itself rather than on penetration, and when I was begging for Dallas to pick up someone, anyone, in transition. What should have been an easy win over an undermanned team turned out an ugly loss to just six players, and if that didn’t keep each and every Maverick up last night with nightmares of Monta Ellis layups, then we have a problem.
The first half was just sloppy basketball on both ends, which you can live with provided the Mavs show some second half intensity. But despite having a deeper roster and more talented personnel, Dallas very much looked the part of the inferior team for the latter half of the game. The offense was completely out of sorts by the time the fourth quarter rolled around, with the Warriors’ maniacal defensive strategy disrupting the Mavs’ flow plenty. It wasn’t as if Radmanovic was playing stellar defense on Dirk, or that the Warrior guards were locking down Terry; Golden State’s team defense (I know, it surprises me to type this as much as it surprises you to read it) just forced turnovers with help, double teams, and some sleight of hand (creating the illusion of a passing lane when there, in fact, was none).
The numbers don’t properly reflect just how out of sorts Dallas was when it mattered most, but Jason Terry’s infuriating turnover with the Mavs down four and just under a minute to play (video forthcoming) epitomized the night spectacularly. JET and Dirk, two machines created for the sole purposes of putting a ball in a hoop with no unexpected hiccups, combined for nine turnovers. Nine. As in, the titular Plan from Outer Space. The thing seven ate. Just to put things in perspective, before last night, Nowitzki and Terry combined to average just 3.2 turnovers per game.
The defense, as I mentioned before, was an abomination and hopefully an aberration. Though the Warriors themselves had plenty of turnovers, they more than made up for them with frequent and effective drives to the basket as well as the sweet outside shooting of Anthony Morrow (6-8 3FG) and Stephen Curry (2-4 3FG). Morrow simply had one of those games where you’re shocked to see any misses at all in the box score, as his confidence level and on-court positioning were pitch perfect. All the while, Monta Ellis had his way with just about every Maverick defender, in particular exploiting J.J. Barea on the left side of the zone defense. The only Mavs player that showed any effectiveness in guarding Ellis was rookie Rodrigue Beaubois, who managed to slow Ellis on a few drives while the Mavs were in man-to-man sets. Otherwise, the perimeter defense was a turnstyle, the rotation D nonexistent, and the interior D simply a means to the end of an Ellis three point play.
This loss isn’t the end of the world, but it should sting like hell. And it’s a shame, too. Dirk Nowitzki had an excellent night scoring the ball (28 points on 9-18 shooting), despite only getting a few touches during the game’s crucial closing stretch (Dirk had just three shot attempts in the fourth, none over the final 4:28). Jason Kidd (13 assists, 10 rebounds) had a spectacular night offensively, even if he had trouble with the quickness of the Warriors defensively. And Drew Gooden (14 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks) again filled in well for the ill Erick Dampier, providing the low post scoring the Mavs have always lacked against Golden State. But it was all for naught, and worse, the momentum the Mavs had been building over the last five games has essentially been shattered.
File this game away as Exhibit A for why Rodrigue Beaubois should be eating into J.J. Barea’s minutes. Though Barea’s +/- on the night isn’t bad at all, he was clearly the weakest point of the Mavs’ D last night, and as such, the entry point for a lot of Golden State’s drives.
I’m a bit surprised we didn’t see more James Singleton, especially considering Quinton Ross missed the entire second half with back issues. The Mavs missed Ross’ D (and Marion’s, and Howard’s, for that matter), and probably could have used Singleton’s energy at either forward spot to ditch the woefully ineffective three guard lineup.
Tim Thomas is playing pretty well. I haven’t seen anything to worry about in terms of his shot selection or defensive intensity, though his mobility is pretty clearly limited by that knee injury. He looks rusty, but he’s still converting from the post and got his first look at a made three last night. Once the real, healthy rotation falls into place, I definitely see a few minutes for Thomas.
GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT: The Gold Star of the Night Goes to…I won’t even bother.