The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 105, Oklahoma City Thunder 111

Posted by Connor Huchton on December 28, 2012 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

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Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot 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.

  • For three quarters of this game, the Mavericks controlled the tempo. The offense produced wonderfully, mostly due to an outstanding game from Darren Collison (13-22 FG, 4-4 3PT, 32 points, five rebounds, four assists, four steals, three turnovers) and the efforts of Chris Kaman (7-14 FG, 17 points, eight rebounds) and Shawn Marion (5-12 FG, 14 points, nine rebounds, seven assists), the latter of which nearly recorded a triple-double.
  • But after a stagnant fourth quarter, one which saw Kevin Durant (13-28 FG, 10-10 FT, 40 points, eight rebounds, five assists) lead the Thunder to a three-point lead with 2.2 seconds remaining, prospects appeared dire for the Mavericks.
  • And then this happened.
  • It was a bizarre, incredible moment that gave the Mavericks new life and a chance at a hard-fought overtime win. Unfortunately, that win was not to be. The issues that troubled the Mavericks’ fourth quarter offense continued into overtime. O.J. Mayo’s (1-7 FG, four points) recent struggles proceeded and amplified in the extra period. With the Mavericks facing a one-point deficit and less than one minute left, Mayo made a costly turnover. Like many of the turnovers that plague his game, it was avoidable and caused largely by confusion and impatience.
  • After picking up his dribble (with plenty of time left on the shot clock), he forced a pass to Collison that was easily stolen, and the resulting transition bucket put the Thunder comfortably ahead. Later, Mayo drew a clever foul on a three-point attempt with the Mavericks down three and 33 seconds remaining. Though a typically stellar free-throw shooter, Mayo unluckily made only one of three free throws, and the Mavericks never bounced back.
  • Dirk Nowitzki (3-11 FG, nine points, six rebounds) performed below his typical standards in 26 minutes of action. Hopefully the power of time will quickly aid him in his ascendancy back to stardom.

Bloom and Doom

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on December 26, 2012 under Commentary | Read the First Comment

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In an effort to keep the discussion going, I sought out ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon for his opinion on pressing issues for the Dallas Mavericks. You can view MacMahon’s coverage of the Mavericks at ESPNDallas.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @espn_macmahon. Periodically, we are going to touch base and discuss topics with our own unique point of view.

MacMahon likes to call it like he sees it. That perspective can hover on the other end of the spectrum from my optimistic viewpoint on things. You could say it’s a classic case of good cop, bad cop. Our different perspectives should make for an interesting conversation on hot topics revolving around the Mavericks. Here is the first batch of bloom and doom.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 91, San Antonio Spurs 129

Posted by Connor Huchton on December 24, 2012 under Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot 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.

  • Positive: The greatest player in Mavericks’ history returned from injury on Friday night, and performed well in a brief stint.
  • Negative: The Mavericks lost by 38 points, a fantastic, awful deficit that ran its course by the apex of the third quarter.
  • I don’t know how many teams in NBA history have made 20 of 30 threes and lost, but I doubt it’s many.
  • The Spurs will not hold that distinction, as they proved victorious by a mere margin of 38 points.
  • Speaking of distinction, the Spurs actually set their franchise record for three-pointers made.
  • At least the Mavericks are helping make history.
  • Chris Douglas-Roberts (three points) deserves a special mention for the following:
  • A) Making his debut as a Maverick
  • B) Miraculously achieving the team’s only positive plus-minus. The Mavericks were one point better than the Spurs in his ten minutes of play.
  • So how did Dirk Nowitzki (eight points, 3-4 FG, six rebounds) perform in his 20-minute return? Quite well, I’d say.
  • The one-legged fadeaway was back and working well for Mr. Nowitzki, and the pick-and-roll action returned with impressive rhythm.
  • Assimilating Dirk into the offense is a far smaller problem than what especially plagued the Mavericks tonight.
  • That plague would be perimeter defending, and more generally, defending as a whole.
  • Part of that issue stems from a night of rare three-point shooting form from the Spurs.
  • But it can also be attributed to their copious open opportunities.
  • O.J. Mayo (3-8 FG, seven points, six assists) continued his streak of sub-20 point, inefficient scoring performances.
  • Beyond this game, that’s something the Mavericks desperately hope improves. The Mavericks aren’t going to win many games with him playing at a subpar level.
  • The Mavericks “bench”, which is always in flux and tonight included Dirk Nowitzki, actually performed quite well offensively.
  • They made 21 of 39 field goals and scored 58 of the Mavericks’ 91 points.
  • It’s almost anomalous how dominant the Spurs were tonight: they outdid the Mavericks in every single statistical category.
  • That includes everything, from free throws to steals to blocks to fouls.
  • The only Maverick who played particularly well was Darren Collison (15 points, 6-9 FG) in 25 minutes off the bench.
  • Of course, the blame for the Mavericks’ perimeter defending troubles can also partially be attributed to him.
  • Collison actually played five more minutes than surprise starter Dominique Jones (1-7 FG, five points, four assists), who struggled significantly in 20 minutes.
  • Every active Spurs’ player received at least nine minutes of playing time.
  • I almost expected David Robinson to mysteriously return and put up a double-double.
  • Danny Green (9-10 FG, 7-8 3PT, 25 points) shone most notably from beyond the arc in only 23 minutes.
  • 25 points in 23 minutes on 10 field goal attempts is about as efficient as the game of basketball can be played.
  • Well done, Danny Green.
  • Elton Brand (1-4 FG, two points) returned from an injury absence for a less-than-stellar 14 minutes.
  • Brand comes to mind as part of a possible solution to the Mavericks’ defensive woes, but his position makes that difficult.
  • What pairing is best with Brand? Dirk? Kaman? The answer isn’t clear, and thus he may continue to play sparsely.
  • Positive: No Maverick played more than Mayo’s 28 minutes, so exhaustion shouldn’t be an issue.
  • Negative: The Mavericks don’t play until Thursday, so it likely wouldn’t have been anyway.
  • One encouraging aspect of the Mavericks’ loss is that the Spurs scored only two more points in the paint than the Mavericks, so the defense wasn’t completely broken down in every facet.
  • But the Spurs’ style isn’t built to overwhelm in the paint – it creates accessible three point opportunities first and foremost.
  • The Spurs seized nearly every one of those opportunities on Friday night.
  • A closing thought: In order to defeat the league’s best teams, the Mavericks can’t stray from what they’ve done all season – scoring easy baskets in transition. For a game as fast paced as this one, more than 16 fast break points were needed to entertain a possible win.

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 82, Memphis Grizzlies 92

Posted by Connor Huchton on December 22, 2012 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Silbury Hill

Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot 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 did not lack for effort on Friday night. What they did lack for was sufficient personnel to defeat a team of the Memphis Grizzlies’ caliber.
  • That isn’t to say that the current Mavericks could never beat an elite team. They very well could if O.J. Mayo (3-11 FG, 1-4 3PT, 10 points) and Chris Kaman (4-12 FG, eight points, six rebounds) performed at higher respective levels. But that wasn’t the case against a stringent Grizzlies’ defense led by Tony Allen (5-14 FG, 10 points, three steals). Allen’s defense on Mayo could only be classified as superb.
  • Shawn Marion, consummate professional, led the way with 14 points (6-11 FG) and 11 rebounds.
  • Marion’s field goal percentage is now comfortably above his career average and hovering near 50% FG. That’s likely been aided by the Mavericks’ increasingly transition-focused offense and his gradual reduction of three-point attempts, but it’s impressive nonetheless.
  • The Mavericks’ three primary three-point shooters – Jae Crowder (1-9 FG, 0-4 3PT, two points, five rebounds), Vince Carter (5-14 FG, 3-9 3PT, 14 points, seven rebounds), and Mayo – made only four of 17 attempts.
  • Had one of the three been more in rhythm, this game might have been significantly different.
  • The play of Dominique Jones (4-9 FG, 13 points, seven assists) was a nice, if tempered, positive. Jones utilized his greatest skill (reaching the basket via quick first step) to distribute effectively and to draw free throw attempts, of which he made all five.
  • Neither the Mavericks or Grizzlies shot the ball well in any facet, as each team barely eclipsed 40 percent on field goals and shot less than 30 percent from three.
  • The Grizzlies were able to overcome those halfcourt scoring woes by winning the turnover battle (by a 22 to 15 margin, or +7), and capitalizing on the resulting transition opportunities early in the game.
  • Brandan Wright (5-6 FG, 12 points, five rebounds) continued his run of incredible scoring efficiency in somewhat extended action (26 minutes). A near perfect scoring night from Wright should no longer surprise, and yet it still does. But Wright’s night was not entirely perfect – he struggled to keep the ball (three turnovers), and struggled at times on the defensive end. Still, it was an impressive performance for someone returning from an ankle injury.

Setting the Table: Memphis Grizzlies (Game 27)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on December 21, 2012 under Previews | Be the First to Comment

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There will be a reunion as the Dallas Mavericks (12-14) face off against the Memphis Grizzlies (17-6). As an opponent, O.J. Mayo returns to Memphis. It will be very interesting to see Mayo responds to the situation. He’s definitely aware that the game is a situation where he wants to do well and his former team wants to do well. The Memphis Grizzlies have started the season 17‐6, the best start in franchise history. Memphis has accomplished this despite playing the league’s seventh‐most difficult schedule, win percentage of .526, thus far. Memphis has been nearly unbeatable at home, winning 22 of its last 24 games at FedExForum, highlighted by a franchise‐record 15‐game home winning streak from 3/18 through 11/16 of 2012.

This will be the second night of a back-to-back for the Mavericks. The Mavericks are 1-6 in the first half of a back-to-back and 2-4 in the second half of a back-to-back this season. The Mavericks have 16 back-to-backs in 2012-13, with only one stretch of four games in five nights. In total, 10 back-to-backs are on the road, three begin at home and conclude on the road and three are road-to-home. Dallas played 22 back-to-backs in 2011-12, going 7-15 in the first half and 13-9 in the second half of those back-to-backs.

Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Grizzlies.

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Quoteboard: Miami Heat 110, Dallas Mavericks 95

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on under Interviews | Be the First to Comment

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Well, the game between the last two NBA champions felt like a replay of the Christmas Day matchup to start the 2011-12 season as the Miami Heat defeated the Dallas Mavericks in convincing fashion by a score of 110-95. Jae Crowder tied a season-high with 15 points off the bench against Miami on Thursday, also had 15 at the L.A. Lakers on 11/24. It was his sixth double-figure scoring game of the season. He added three rebounds and three assists in 26 minutes. Bernard James went 6-of-10 from the field en route to a season-high 12 points against the Heat (previous high: 9 at Indiana 11/16). He added a season-high-tying nine boards and three blocks in 22 minutes, finishing one rebound shy of his first career double-double. He did not play, coach’s decision, in three of the Mavericks’ previous four games.

O.J. Mayo was held in check by Miami’s stiff defense as he was held to only eight points on 3-of-14 shooting (0-of-5 from 3-point range). LeBron James set the tone early in the game as he scored 13 of his 24 points in the opening quarter. In addition to the 24 points, he added nine rebounds and five assists in 31 minutes.

Prior to the game, a taped interview of Dirk Nowitzki was shown to the crowd. He said that they’ll continue to keep pushing the rehabilitation process and while he doesn’t want to put a specific target date on the record, he is hopeful to make his return to the court before New Year’s Day.

Here is the quoteboard for the loss to the Miami Heat.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 95, Miami Heat 110

Posted by Kirk Henderson on under Recaps | Read the First Comment

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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.

  • This one was over at halftime. It was really, really over in the third quarter when the Miami lead ballooned to 36. The final score isn’t really indicative of the game at all because, with a brief exception in the second quarter when the Mavs third unit made a run, Miami controlled the entire game.
  • Though Dallas probably would have lost this game anyway, the Mavs missed an obscene number of shots at the rim. Though seemingly everyone missed a point blank attempt or two, Darren Collison’s three first half bricks at the rim stick out more than anything else.
  • Aaron McGuire over at Gothic Ginobli pegged this proclivity better than anyone else about a month ago: “He can get to the rim relatively easily, and he can get an open shot there without going through too much trouble. Having speed is useful that way. The problem — and the thing that differentiates him from other NBA speedsters like Tony Parker or Ty Lawson — is that he’s simply so bad at finishing (regardless of the duress he’s under) that his speed advantage impacts his game marginally at best and uselessly at worst. And, as stated, he balks at running a traditional set-play offense — he regularly dribbles himself into oblivion, ending the play far away from the screen that’s been set for him.”
  • This is the second national TV game in a row where O.J. Mayo (eight points, 3-for-14 shooting) has failed to live up to his newly acquired reputation. In Boston, he turned the ball over a season high nine times but was able to put up points, whereas tonight he failed to make a positive contribution to the game and in most circumstances hurt the team more than he helped it. The Heat successfully blitzed Mayo on all high pick and rolls, making him slow just a bit and clogging the Dallas offense. Mayo clearly became frustrated offensively as he began forcing shots, most of which were not even close. Later in the game he was able to have some success attacking the bucket, but it seemed his earlier mistakes were on his mind as he often made strange passing attempts or shot the ball minus the typical Mayo confidence we’ve become accustomed to.
  • The offensive struggle from Mayo is something that will happen from time to time; he’s clearly still learning and developing. It’s the defensive aspect to Mayo’s performance tonight that was really maddening. While no one can expect him to do much against Lebron James after a switch other than hope he miss and box out, Mayo got abused repeatedly by Dwyane Wade. Mayo bit on pump fakes from Wade three or four times in the third quarter alone, a few of which were from beyond the arc. He let Wade take an defensive rebound from him for a put back. Mayo must have more focus on the defensive end if he hopes to be a leader of the Dallas Mavericks.
  • To pick on Mayo alone wouldn’t be fair; at halftime Mayo, Chris Kaman, and Vince Carter were shooting a combined 15%. Kaman in particular was dreadful, with eight points and two rebounds, while also managing a team worst -27 while on the floor. I’m not sure who is more to blame here, Kaman for his incredibly poor shot selection or Carlisle for continuing to play him when the speed of the game was much higher than Kaman could deal with. I fully expected Kaman to attempt to establish himself on the block at some point and he settled for either a jump shot or fade away on most of his attempts. Really poor effort on his part.
  • Dallas has now lost eight games by double digits. Dallas has lost seven of those games by 15 or more points.
  • A brief rally from Dallas in the second quarter came from possibily the most unlikely five man group in Texas. Dominique Jones, Roddy Beaubois, Jae Crowder, Vince Carter, and Bernard James played with enthusiasm and, more importantly, effectiveness. Two second round rookies, a pair of end-of-bench role players, and Vince Carter nearly stole the momentum from the defending world champions.
  • The best Maverick, far and away, was Bernard “Sarge” James, putting up 12 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks. Five of his rebounds were offensive as he relentlessly went after the physically weaker Miami big men. He rolls to the basket much better than he did earlier in the season and catches the ball very, very well. But defensively he has established himself as a true specialist. A second quarter block of Battier that lead to a Dominique Jones lay in displayed some unique timing. The TNT crew realized later in the game that James plays similarly to Joel Anthony, which is a reasonable comparison. James will probably never be a starter, but has played well virtually every time he has been given minutes.
  • Dominique Jones had a career high in assists with seven, five of them coming in the first half. Miami managed to close down a lot of the lanes he used in the first half, both passing and penetration. Still, nice to see him be effective, though I cringe when he shoots or tries a driving  lay in because he simply cannot finish with consistency.
  • Lebron James (24 points, nine rebounds, five assists) was brilliant in every facet of the game. His 13 first quarter points on 6-of-7 shooting made the game look unfair. Compared to the 2011 finals, James seems comfortable and confident doing whatever he wants with the ball. Defensively he’s a nightmare, covering ground laterally at a speed that defies common understanding.
  • Along that same vein, Miami is playing ideal position-less basketball. The main cog is James, but watching Wade, Bosh, and guys like Chalmers, Battier, Haslem, and Anthony, the Heat can guard any line up. Offensively they have different players like Mike Miller and Ray Allen who exploit the opportunities presented to Miami by simply knocking down open shots.
  • It’s disappointing Brandan Wright was injured tonight with a sprained ankle. Seeing him in a fast paced game where defensive help was a necessity could have made the game more interesting. Miami doesn’t expend energy crashing the offensive glass that often, so Wright’s main issue would have been hidden. But there’s always next game as Dallas plays Miami again in less than two weeks.
  • Seeing who Dirk nudges out of the rotation will be worth watching. Obviously, it’s great that he’ll be back soon, but with none of the Maverick big men playing well consistently (or in the cases of Wright and James, not seeing minutes consistently), who Carlisle opts to go with will be worth analyzing. The theory was Dirk and Kaman would see action together, with Brand being the main release valve. But with Kaman rebounding so poorly it’s hard to see that pair working out well for any significant stretch.
  • When looking at win loss records and including tonight’s game, the Mavs play the league’s 4th best team (Miami), 5th best team (Memphis), 6th best team (San Antonio) and the league’s best team (Oklahoma City) in a seven day span. That’s followed up by a match up versus the underwhelming but very talented Denver Nuggets, another game against the Spurs, a trip to the nations capitol, and then another meeting with the Miami Heat. Easily the most brutal stretch of games in the entire Dallas schedule.

Kirk is a member of the Two Man Game family. Follow him on twitter @KirkSeriousFace for ranting about Dallas basketball, TV, movies, video games, and his dog.

Setting the Table: Miami Heat (Game 26)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on December 20, 2012 under Previews | Be the First to Comment

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The challenges now begin to really ramp up as the Dallas Mavericks (12-13) host the defending champions, the Miami Heat (16-6). Starting with the Heat, the next six teams on the Mavericks’ schedule having winning records. Dallas is looking to continue their success against the Eastern Conference. With the victory over the Sixers at American Airlines Center on 12/18, the Mavericks improved to 6-0 against Eastern Conference teams at home.

The Mavericks will come into the game against the Heat somewhat short-handed. News came  on 12/19 that Brandan Wright sprained his right ankle late in Tuesday’s win over the 76ers. Both Wright and Elton Brand (strained right groin) will be game-time decisions against Miami. Derek Fisher (strained patellar tendon) is likely going to be out for the game. The team is still awaiting results of the MRI Fisher had on 12/19.

Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Heat.

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Abandoning the Apocalypse

Posted by David Hopkins on December 19, 2012 under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

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“This is why I am here. This is the death I have foreshadowed. Mad gods have come to destroy us all.” – Galactus, Devourer of Worlds

From what I’ve heard, the world is ending. I’m not talking about the end of the Mayan calendar and the doomsday projections for this Friday, December 21st. I’m talking about the Mavs season and apparently the future of the franchise — if the most pessimistic prognostications are correct.

In case you were wondering, the Apocalypse will look something like this: Dallas loses relevance as a Finals competitor. They get stuck in the middle. Not good enough to go deep into the playoffs, not appealing enough to win big name free agents, and not bad enough to get lucky in the lottery. And even if the team did try to “suck for luck,” this is a ridiculous strategy because it creates a culture of losing that is difficult to recover from. Also, it’s a bad idea when you consider this well-written and thoroughly depressing column by Jonathan Tjarks. Would the Mavs be able to appropriately develop high draft picks? No matter. If this is the end, it looks ugly.

If I am to believe the Mavs fans, the ones who pace and rant, who wear placards proclaiming the end, they say the signs have been here all along.

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Quoteboard: Dallas Mavericks 107, Philadelphia 76ers 100

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on under Interviews | Be the First to Comment

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The Dallas Mavericks secured a 107-100 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on 12/18. Dallas used a 14-4 run from the 9:30 mark of the fourth quarter through the 4:16 mark of the period to open up a 12-point advantage, 94-82, to end their three-game losing streak. O.J. Mayo scored a game-high 26 points, on only 12 shots from the field, to go along with three rebounds and a season-high eight assists in 36 minutes. It was his 14th game with 20-plus points this season. Dallas improved to 7-1 on the year when he scores 25-plus points in a game. He led Dallas in scoring for the 17th time this season.

As a two man game partner to Mayo, Chris Kaman posted his fifth 20-point effort of the season with 20 points to go along with seven rebounds in 30 minutes. He scored a season-high eight fourth-quarter points against the Sixers. With the win, Dallas improved to 4-1 on the year when Kaman scores 20-plus points in a game.

Shawn Marion eclipsed the 16,000-point plateau against the Sixers. He became the 95th player in NBA history with at least 16,000 points. A seven-foot bank shot at the 7:41 mark of the first quarter gave him four points for the game (and 16,001 for his career). Marion recorded 14 points and nine rebounds against Philadelphia, coming one rebound shy of his fourth consecutive double-double. Marion is averaging 14.0 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.0 blocks and 35.8 minutes over his last four games, after he missed the previous two with a strained right groin.

Derek Fisher left the game against the 76ers after suffering a strained patellar tendon with 6:51 remaining in the first quarter. He will have a MRI on 12/19.

Here is the quoteboard for the win against the Philadelphia 76ers.

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