The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 107, Philadelphia 76ers 100

Posted by Connor Huchton on December 19, 2012 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment


Box ScorePlay-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.

  • You don’t know how much you miss watching great basketball chemistry until it arrives wonderfully on a quiet Tuesday night in December.
  • The Mavericks played enjoyable, solid basketball for the duration of Tuesday night’s game, and that performance translated to a noteworthy win against a decent Sixers team. The Mavs’ offense appeared as well-constructed as it has in a month. The flow of the two-man game between O.J. Mayo (26 points, 8-12 FG, eight assists) and Chris Kaman (20 points, 9-15 FG, seven rebounds) was especially wonderful.
  • An integral factor in the individual successes of Kaman and Mayo was the deftness with which they played off each other’s strengths. As the game progressed to a close, Mayo, upon seeing the defense key towards him, found Kaman several times for open mid-range jumpers. And when he didn’t pass, he smoothly glided to the basket or pulled up for an efficient jumper.
  • Shawn Marion (14 points, 7-11 FG, nine rebounds) helped level the Mavs’ offense in the middle quarters between the peaks of Mayo and Kaman, which compels me to once again note exactly how consistent Marion has been this season when healthy. He’s an offensive and defensive cornerstone on a game-by-game basis, even in the third act of his career.
  • The Sixers’ late-game offense existed in exact juxtaposition to that of the Mavericks. It seemed like nearly every Sixers’ possession that didn’t result in a Dorell Wright three (25 points, 8-18 FG, 7-13 3PT) resulted in a wasted twenty or so seconds, followed by a turnover or contested long-two. They clearly miss Jrue Holiday as a shot creator, though Evan Turner (17 points, 7-16 FG, five assists, four turnovers) and Maalik Wayns (3 points, 1-7 FG, nine assists, zero turnovers) did their best to shoulder the burden.
  • Brandan Wright (5-6 FG, 10 points, six rebounds) continues to score at an unbelievably efficient rate. If he qualified, Wright would currently have the NBA’s second best FG%. He made the most of his 17 minutes, and notably capitalized on opportunities in the fourth quarter when paired with Chris Kaman.
  • As reported by Michael Dugat on Twitter, O.J. Mayo has now led the Mavericks in scoring in 17 of the team’s 25 games. That’s incredible for a player largely thought of as a draft bust only a few months ago. And his game appears to grow and develop as every week passes.

Why We Fall

Posted by Brian Rubaie on December 18, 2012 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment


It should come as no surprise that a rebuilt roster of youthful Dallas Mavericks has been up-and-down. What has been baffling is the degree of inconsistency between the highs and lows; the same Mavericks that handed the Knicks one of their few losses this season were also bested by more than 20 points by the lowly Toronto Raptors. Unfortunately, results like the one against Toronto are more common: Dallas has dropped 7 of their last 11 and look less and less like a playoff-bound team.

The watchword of the season has been “rebounding,” and loyal Mavericks fans are surely familiar with these woes. While certainly part of the problem, rebounding is only one factor among many. Two other variables provide equally compelling explanations of the Mavericks’ recent slide and potential bellwethers of their revival:

  • Until Dirk Nowitzki returns, the Mavericks will continue to go as boom-or-bust scoring leader O.J. Mayo goes.
  • More broadly, turnovers have doomed Dallas in many reversible losses and will continue to forestall the return of winning basketball if not corrected.

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The Rundown, Volume IX

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on December 17, 2012 under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment


The Rundown is back. Every Monday, The Rundown will chronicle the week that was for the Mavericks, as well as let you know what is coming up for the boys in blue, with a unique spin. Simply put, it is your Monday catch-up on all things with the Dallas Mavericks.

The roller coaster ride that is the 2012-13 season for the Mavericks continues. After a positive week last week, the tough road trip for the Mavericks found themselves in a rough hole. To say the least, the road hasn’t been kind to them. Television play-by-play voice of the Dallas Mavericks Mark Followill noted that since 12/4, the team has been on eight flights totaling 6,904 miles with seven games in seven different cities. With the week ahead, they now find themselves at a crossroads for their season. I’ll go into more detail about that later in the column, but let’s take a look at the week for that was for Dallas.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 106, Minnesota Timberwolves 114

Posted by Kirk Henderson on December 16, 2012 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment


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.

  • With this being the second overtime loss in three games for Dallas, we can again look to small lapses in judgement which made a big difference in the final margin; two in particular jump out. First, Darren Collison got beat on a backdoor cut by J.J. Barea late in the first quarter. For some reason Collison tried to anticipate Ricky Rubio throwing a pass to a not-yet-rolling Greg Steimsma. Rubio read that move a mile away and instead fed the cutting Barea for a layup, which Brandan Wright goaltended off the rim. Second, to start the third quarter, Alexey Shved stripped Chris Kaman from behind after leaving a cutting O.J. Mayo. Mayo said nothing to alert his teammate to the coming double team. The Timberwolves took the ball down and scored in transition.
  • During the course of this three game losing streak, Dallas is averaging 21 turnovers per game. Tonight, the bulk of the Dallas turnovers game in the second quarter, when they had nine, as the Wolves outscored the Mavs 32 to 13.
  • The Mavs made a fast and furious attempt at a comeback in the fourth with a truly unorthodox lineup; at one point  Dominique Jones, Derek Fisher, Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo, and Elton Brand were all on the floor together. Three point guards, a shooting guard, and a power forward. That Carlisle has to resort to these odd line ups for some sort of offensive effectiveness is frustrating, that they are working is fun.
  • Vince Carter (nine points, four assists) and Derek Fisher (20 points, five turnovers) fouling out played into Carlisle’s decision to return to a traditional line up for the overtime. The small ball line up managed to keep the Wolves off of the offensive glass until the final thirty seconds of regulation when Minnesota had five chances to win the game but were not able to convert any. However, the traditional lineup was terrible offensively, as Dallas was only able to convert one shot in eight attempts in the overtime.
  • Shawn Marion (14 points, 10 rebounds) is the glue that is holding this team together. Night in and out he manages to find ways to be effective. He scored in transition early, got second chances for the Mavs through offensive rebounds, and played very well in the pick and roll with O.J. Mayo (20 points, six assists). He’s often the center of fan trade proposals due to his contract, but his contribution level at this point is immeasurable.
  • I’m with my colleagues that Brandan Wright needs to play more. But he is such a frustrating talent. In his past two outings he’s played 22 minutes and gathered one rebound. His mental lapses are mind boggling; in his eight minutes of action against the Wolves, Derrick Williams beat him on not one, but two back-door alley-oop cuts which, had he been able to convert the dunk attempts, would’ve been Sports Center highlights. It’s not enough that he is able to score in the offense. He has to contribute in other areas, and this season he’s had stretches where he just can’t seem to do anything to deserve more playing time.
  • Seeing O.J. Mayo develop has been rewarding, even in games where he struggles with being the lead play maker. The next step in his game has to be getting to the free throw line more frequently. Prior to tonight’s game he averages just under four free throw attempts per game. As someone who is averaging 35 minutes a night and bears the role of primary scorer, getting to the line is something he has to do with more regularity. While he’s shooting at a blistering rate at the moment (48%), history tells us that’s bound to fall three to four percentage points as the year wears on. He’s been attacking the bucket more often these last dozen or so games, so hopefully his FTA’s will increase at some point.
  • Dirk was seen working out and getting shots up prior to tonight’s game. I very much hope he isn’t rushing his recovery as he sees the team struggle these past few games. As Connor has pointed out repeatedly, the schedule gets much tougher to close out the year and it’s in the realm of possibility that Dallas will not able to get another win in 2012. The loss tonight puts Dallas at a 13.1% chance to make the playoffs and while I know these rankings do not factor in things like Dirk’s injury, seeing this Dallas squad make the playoffs, even with Dirk, is hard to imagine when one considers their problems.

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: Minnesota Timberwolves (Game 24)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on December 15, 2012 under Previews | Be the First to Comment


The Dallas Mavericks (11-12) are finishing up the second night of their back-to-back on Saturday night as they take on the Minnesota Timberwolves (11-9). The game marks the highly anticipated season debut of point guard Ricky Rubio for the Timberwolves. This will mark the first time since March 9 of last year that Rubio has played a game. Rubio is returning from a left knee injury sustained in the closing moments of the Wolves’ game with the Los Angeles Lakers last March, when he sustained a torn ACL and LCL. Rubio had surgery to repair the knee March 21.

The Mavericks have dropped back-to-back road games (at Boston 12/12 and at Toronto 12/14). Dallas has only one three-game losing streak this season (at New York 11/9-vs. Minnesota 11/12). As noted, this will be the second night of a back-to-back for Dallas. The Mavericks are 1-5 in the first half of a back-to-back and 2-3 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 Timberwolves.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 74, Toronto Raptors 95

Posted by Connor Huchton on under Recaps | 2 Comments to Read


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. 

  • Losing to the lowly Raptors has a way of plummeting expectations. But this loss shouldn’t be shocking, given that this Mavericks’ team is currently average at best.
  • The first sign that this game was headed for an underwhelming finish came with O.J. Mayo’s (2-8 FG, 10 points, six turnovers) struggles. Quite simply, the Mavericks don’t win when Mayo isn’t playing well.
  • Even so, no respectable team should score a mere 74 points in an NBA game. But when the Mavericks’ second best scoring option, Chris Kaman (7-18 FG, 15 points, five rebounds), began forcing looks in an attempt to jump start the team’s offense, things quickly took a turn for the worse.
  • Kaman can’t be blamed for an occasionally inefficient scoring night. What he can be blamed for is a continuing inability to rebound well.
  • He’s currently sporting the worst rebounding rate of his career, to give that thought some context. 
  • One player who absolutely did not struggle to score was Brandan Wright (6-6 FG, 13 points). Wright scored in droves without missing a shot over the course of an all-too-short 14 minutes.
  • It’s worth wondering why Wright only played 14 minutes on a night when the Mavericks could not have needed his scoring more badly. Wright’s defensive struggles are well documented (and he recorded zero rebounds tonight), but they aren’t significant enough to preclude his presence during games when efficient scoring is at a premium.
  • Other than Wright, the Mavericks bench performed dismally in this game, combining for only 27 points.
  • Linas Kleiza (20 points, 7-13 FG, 5-11 3PT), with his semi-formidable combination of strength and three-point shooting skill, is the type of player who can achieve scoring bursts against teams without a true defensive center.
  • The Mavericks are one of those teams.
  • Though defensively impressive in past seasons, the Mavericks are now ranked a mediocre 17th in defensive efficiency.
  • For a team that currently has only two capable high-volume scorers, the resulting need to score at a high rate creates an increasingly frequent problem and often leads to losses.
  • Things aren’t about to get better: the Mavericks opponents to this point have a 162-199 record.
  • In the next 6 games, opponents have a record of 88-42.
  • Let’s take a moment to admire the resiliency and constancy of Shawn Marion (12 points, 13 rebounds, 4-7 FG), who is competent or better in the majority of games and almost always able to make some form of impact.
  • The only other Mavericks’ player (not named Dirk) you could say that for is O.J. Mayo, and his game is nowhere near as wide-reaching as Marion’s.
  • Though this is a bit of a tangent, it is now my tenuous belief that the Mavericks should have re-signed Tyson Chandler in the summer of 2011.
  • It’s easy to spout that belief in hindsight of the Mavericks’ free agent failures, but the question of whether Deron Williams or Tyson Chandler is a more valuable player lurks in my mind, especially in a Mavericks’ system that thrives with an elite defensive center. Chandler has improved the Knicks’ defense in great increments over the last two seasons, while Williams has often struggled to perform at an elite level with the Nets and has had particular difficulties on the defensive end.
  • And that idea comes with the following facts, courtesy of Jared Dubin. Those considerations make one wonder whether the choice would have been preferential even had the Mavericks managed to sign Williams.
  • Of course, that opinion comes with the caveat of knowing Chandler playing at this level wasn’t a certainty at the time of his departure, after a small sample size of success.
  • (If Chris Paul or Dwight Howard somehow signs with the Mavericks this summer, I rescind this tangent.)

Thermodynamics: Week 7

Posted by Travis Wimberly on December 13, 2012 under Commentary, Recaps | 3 Comments to Read

Fire Ice

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

As the great philosopher Randy Quiad once said, just before he courageously kamikaze-dived his F/A-18 fighter jet into the alien mothership: “I’m back.” My week-long hiatus from The Two Man Game, which was filled with all sorts of illicit activities (e.g., work, eating in between work breaks, sleeping a bit between work breaks), is over. My sincerest thanks to my colleague and good friend Bryan Gutierrez for filling in last week on very short notice. Cheers to you, BG.

So about those Mavericks. They had a strong week, notching a 3-1 record and falling only to the Boston Celtics last night in a double-overtime road pseudo-thriller. A couple more made free throws or a couple fewer turnovers in Boston and it would have been not just a “strong” week, but an excellent one. So it goes.

Let’s do what we do each week. Three hot Mavs performances, and three cold ones. Hit it.

Week 7 (@Suns, @Rockets, Kings, @Celtics)


1) OJ Mayo

Other than his brief apperance on the cold list in Week 5, Mayo has consistently lived in the Thermodynamics fire this season. He’s right back at it this week. He started this seven-day stretch with a strong performance in Phoenix, notching 23 points on 9-of-17 (53%) shooting and hitting the go-ahead jumper with 35 seconds left in the game. In Houston two nights later, Mayo had by far his best performance as a Mav and arguably the best of his young career. He tied his career high with 40 points –outdueling James Harden’s 39 — on 15-of-26 (58%) shooting while going 6-of-9 (67%) from deep. Sixteen of Mayo’s points came in the decisive fourth quarter, when the Mavs erased an 11-point deficit and took control. At home against the Kings, Mayo did about what you’d expect, tallying 19 points on 6-of-9 (67%) shooting in just 28 minutes as the Mavs cruised to an easy victory. Finally, in Boston last night, Mayo was the Mavs’ leading scorer with 24 points on 10-of-19 (53%) shooting, including several clutch baskets in the fourth quarter and first overtime. Unfortunately, Mayo’s otherwise strong performance in Boston was marred by nine turnovers, a missed free throw late, and a few poor shots during the OT frames. Still, the Mavs’ leading scorer did what he does best this week. And he even rebounded to boot, averaging 6.5 boards per game and twice leading the entire team in that department. Speaking of which…

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 115, Boston Celtics 117

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


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 seeds of a close loss are often sewn in little details throughout a game. One might not notice them at first, but then, upon reflection, it becomes easy to pick out a few things which might have turned the tide. The major reason tonight was turnovers, 27 of them to be exact. In 58 minutes of basketball, Dallas managed to turn the ball over nearly once every two minutes. That 16 of them were spread between the primary ball handlers in O.J. Mayo (24 points, nine turnovers) and Darren Collison (20 points, seven turnovers) is frustrating because each played remarkable basketball during key moments to make the game close. When playing a team as adept as Boston at blitzing the pick and roll (the Rajon Rondo-Kevin Garnett trap was devastating), unforced turnovers usually kill a team’s chances early. Instead they came back to haunt Dallas as the Mavs never got a handle on taking care of the ball, even late in the second overtime.
  • The lack of a solid spot up shooter for Dallas is resulting in less efficient offensive attempts during stretches of play. Outside of Mayo and Vince Carter (10 points, eight rebounds, five assists) there really isn’t a shooter capable of hitting the open corner threes that are available within the Dallas offense. Mayo and Carter rarely get these chances as they are often the play maker or facilitator within the offense. Over the past few games I’ve see Dahntay Jones, Collison, and Marion all end up with the ball the corner as a result of great ball movement only to pass up on an open three or brick them badly (the main recent exception was Collison’s three in the third tonight when Dallas fought to make the game close again). When Dirk returns I expect the team to see even more of these looks as he draws so much attention while operating in the center of the floor and hopefully Mayo and Carter will be the main beneficiaries.

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: Boston Celtics (Game 22)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on December 12, 2012 under Previews | Be the First to Comment


The Dallas Mavericks (11-10) are going for their first four-game winning streak of the year as they take on the Boston Celtics (11-9). The Mavericks are also looking to build on their two-game road winning streak. If they can win against Boston, it will be the first time they’ve won three consecutive road games this season. It will be a reunion night as the Mavericks see Jason Terry for the first time since he left the organization this summer via free agency.

To update you on players, it appears Shawn Marion will play in the game against the Celtics. He had missed the team’s previous two games due to a sprained right groin. It does appear Jae Crowder may not be available for the game as he’s battling an illness (it’s that time of the year).

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

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Quoteboard: Dallas Mavericks 119, Sacramento Kings 96

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on December 11, 2012 under Interviews | Read the First Comment


The Dallas Mavericks used a 34-5 run from the 2:02 mark of the first quarter through the 2:44 mark of the second period to turn a one-point deficit, 29-28, into a 28-point advantage, 61-33, en route to the 119-96 victory over the Sacramento Kings. With the win, the Mavericks are now on a three game winning stream and have climbed above .500 with a record of 11-10. The Mavericks continued their domination of the Kings as Dallas recorded their 17th consecutive victory against Sacramento at home. The Kings have not defeated the Mavericks in Dallas since 2/27/03 (126-124 in overtime). It’s the Mavericks’ longest active home winning streak against any team.

O.J. Mayo entered Monday’s game coming off a 40-point effort at Houston on 12/8 and with 5,001 points in his career. He recorded a team-high 19 points to go along with a team-high seven rebounds, four assists and one steal in 28 minutes against the Kings. He led Dallas in scoring for the 14thtime this season. Dallas improved to 9-3 when he makes at least three 3-pointers in a game this year. Mayo is averaging 27.3 points on 57.7 percent shooting over his last three games. Mayo led the charge as the six players scored in double figures for Dallas in the win. It marked the fifth time this season that the Mavericks have had six players in double digits (4-1 record).

The convincing victory did have it’s share of drama. Late in the second quarter, Mayo and DeMarcus Cousins were fighting for position on the low block. Cousins delivered a back-hand, closed-fist punch to Mayo’s groin. Both were seen arguing with each other and Cousins and Mayo were whistled for a double-technical foul. Mayo spoke openly and candidly about the altercation.

Here is the quoteboard for the victory over the Kings.

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