The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 113, Utah Jazz 108

Posted by Connor Huchton on March 25, 2013 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Sunrise

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

  • Despite the relentless turmoil and mediocrity that preceded the break, the post All-Star Mavericks inspire belief. They contain a transcendent star, several valuable wing players, and an eccentric (but effective enough) center rotation. They’ve won 11 of 18 games against a somewhat difficult schedule, and rarely seemed daunted by their opponent – notwithstanding an awful blowout loss to Houston on March 3rd, every game has been at least competitive. The current Dallas’ squad does not necessarily proclaim greatness, but it does provide an undeniably strong case as being quite good. With a win tonight against the faltering Jazz, it’s becoming increasingly possible to believe in a Mavericks’ playoff berth, and whatever unlikely glory might come with it.
  • Tonight’s bizarre/typical iteration of ,”Who is the most effective Mavericks’ center?”, is a prime example of the simultaneous versatility and uncertainty the Mavericks face at the position on a game-by-game basis. Brandan Wright (3-11 FG, seven points, four points), the team’s best center of late, struggled as the contest began and progressed, and so Elton Brand (5-5 FG, 10 points, five rebounds) returned to the rotation after a game-long absence and provided a much needed offensive and defensive spark. Chris Kaman (2-3 FG, four points) made a curt, eight-minute appearance that brimmed with moderate effectiveness. Tonight, Elton Brand was the Mavericks’ best ‘center’ (an arbitrary term typically used to describe any Mavs’ frontcourt player not named Dirk Nowitzki), but next game, that title could easily shift.
  • I’ve really enjoyed the way O.J. Mayo (4-7 FG, 2-3 3PT, 10 points) has adjusted his game upon Dirk’s (7-13 FG, 2-4 3PT, 17 points, six rebounds) return to offensive dominance. Since the All-Star break, Mayo is attempting about three field goal attempts less per game (and averaging one less turnover per game), and it’s helped aid a slight return to form for him. Mayo’s still scoring about 10-15 points nearly every night at a reduced usage, but he’s doing so as a secondary, efficient option in flux within the ebbs and flows of Dirk’s nightly performances. When the Mavericks need Mayo to score and deliver, he’s done so, but he’s also managed to adjust and recede his game in a renewed, potent offense.
  • Despite the misleading allowance of 108 points, this was one of the better defensive games of the 2012-2013 Mavericks’ recent history. The Jazz scored 28 points in the final 5:26 after the game had reached a seemingly finished stage, but before that mental (and almost costly) lapse, the Mavericks had limited the Jazz’s interior presence nicely. The Jazz starting frontcourt typically scores willfully and appears at first glance to pose a significant matchup problem for the Mavericks’ nebulous range of post defenders, but Brand and company did a very good job of limiting Jefferson and Millsap to a quiet total of 30 combined points.
  • I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the stellar night of somewhat maligned veteran guard Mike James (7-10 FG, 3-4 3PT, 19 points, five assists). On his best nights, James is a dangerous spot-up three-point shooter and a capable distributor, and tonight was surely one of those nights. As a parting note, I believe this is the highest I’ve ever seen Chris Kaman jump, and thus, Marvin Williams (1-6, 2 points) fittingly missed his dunk.

The Difference: Utah Jazz 123, Dallas Mavericks 121

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 17, 2012 under Recaps | 6 Comments to Read

Screen Shot 2012-04-17 at 12.47.33 AM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot Chart Game Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas117.0103.450.025.515.212.1
Utah117.949.538.929.214.6

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 game went all the way to the competitive limit, but Dallas’ defense eventually collapsed because of its collapses by design. The Mavericks were content to swarm the Jazz bigs on their interior catches, and although that’s sound strategy considering the personnel and skill sets of both teams, Utah benefited from far too many wide open jumpers. A result this insanely intricate obviously wasn’t decided by those comfortable J’s alone, but if we’re looking for a consistent factor that carried more weight than, say, controversial calls or specific late-game sets, attentions should rightly turn to how so many Jazz shooters found unoccupied real estate. Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and Gordon Hayward don’t need offensive help, and yet because of the specific gaps in the Mavericks’ defensive matchups, there was little choice for Dallas but to offer systemic help. Look to Jefferson and Millsap’s tough late-game makes, an absent whistle, or Devin Harris’ baffling number of threes, but the Mavs seemed to really lose this game when their inability to create stable offense became juxtaposed with their defense conceding that very thing to the Jazz.
  • If nothing else, this game taught us plenty about Rick Carlisle’s desperation for offense, and more specifically, his designs to improve the Mavs’ offensive potential with perimeter shooting. Dirk Nowitzki (40 points, 13-26 FG, nine rebounds, six assists) was predictably spectacular, but no Maverick seemed both interested and capable enough to assist him throughout the bulk of this game. Jason Terry (27 points, 11-25 FG, 4-9 3FG) was absolutely tremendous late and both Delonte West (16 points, 5-8 FG) and Vince Carter (18 points, 5-15 FG, 12 rebounds, four assists) did great work in spots, but had all of their efforts come earlier and more consistently, this game may have been decided in regulation. Dallas was wanting for scoring of any kind beyond Nowitzki, so much so that Carlisle kept Brendan Haywood on the bench for the game’s final 30 minutes in favor of the more offensively capable Ian Mahinmi, and parked Marion — who was unmistakably absent in his time on the floor — for the final 27 minutes in favor of either Carter or West. That’s a pretty lengthy substitution of defense for offense, particularly when Jefferson is so formidable down low and Gordon Hayward was blowing by Jason Kidd with regularity. Yet considering the downward slope Dallas’ defense has taken over the last 20 games or so, an offensive jump-start is an absolute necessity. This isn’t a one-time occurrence; this team’s scoring is in shambles, and the defense is no longer oppressive enough to pull out consistent wins. Substitution patterns this radical may have been too great a cost, but Carlisle’s concern for the offense within the context of this game and the playoffs is rather clear.

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 116, Utah Jazz 101

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 28, 2012 under Recaps | 7 Comments to Read

Screen shot 2012-01-27 at 11.25.14 PM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas88.0131.861.626.838.28.9
Utah114.849.426.227.98.8

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

  • Rodrigue Beaubois (22 points, 9-15 FG, 3-5 3FG, seven assists, six rebounds, four blocks, two turnovers) is such a fascinating player to watch that Rick Carlisle, unprompted, crafted a persona for Beaubois as entertainer. Even with that in mind, this particular performance may be the promising guard’s finest work — as a competitor, as an entertainer, or in virtually any other role you would seek to assign him. It wasn’t Beaubois’ most prolific game nor his most significant, but never has Beaubois created such a profound impact without caveat. There are no “buts” or asterisks; Beaubois was tremendous, as he flashed every angle of his high-scoring potential with impressive drives, cuts, and jumpers. With so many elements of his game tuned to precision, Beaubois finally found his way. Mais il arriva que le petit prince, ayant longtemps marché à travers les sables, les rocs et les neiges, découvrit enfin une route. Et les routes vont toutes chez les hommes. “Bonjour, dit-il.” C’était un jardin fleuri de roses.
  • If I may gush further: Beaubois’ full-speed reads on pick and rolls were a thing of absolute beauty. He previously would approach such sequences as strictly a two-man game, but with experience, Beaubois’ scope has widened. He sees the baseline cutter and the open spot-up shooter — the men that, in the flurry of addressing their compromise in coverage, the defense has forgotten. Beaubois may always be a scorer first and foremost, but this was a fantastic passing display on a night when it was sorely needed.
  • This game completely exploded in the fourth quarter. Dallas had managed to protect a meager lead prior to the final frame, but Utah was still very much within range of a win due to their effectiveness on the interior. Then, the Mavs snatched the possibility of a Jazz win away without much notice or remorse, and what had once been a very reasonable affair grew into a walk-off victory for Dallas in a matter of minutes. It’s good to see the Mavs close out a game so dominantly, but it’s even better to see a previously struggling offense put together four consecutive quarters of 28 points or more.

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Moving Pictures: Utter Destruction

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 3, 2010 under Video | 5 Comments to Read

Monday night’s game between the Mavs and the Jazz was a terrific showcase of high quality basketball…until Dallas completely broke down in the fourth quarter. Utah completely dominated the final frame, making those resilient Maverick performances from early in the season seem like a distant memory. In this installment of Moving Pictures, we’ll look at what the Jazz did well and where the Mavs folded.

You can watch the video on Vimeo for a much larger picture, which is in the original widescreen resolution the video was made for.

Note: Apologies on how late this is, but I don’t really feel that it’s dated. YouTube gave me all kinds of trouble on the upload, hence Vimeo.

Utah Jazz 104, Dallas Mavericks 92

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 2, 2010 under Recaps | 5 Comments to Read

Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE/Getty Images.

Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

“The straight line leads to the downfall of humanity.
-Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Last night, the Mavs had the distinct pleasure of being audience to their own implosion. They could only watch helplessly as the Utah Jazz forced turnover after turnover, catapulting themselves into transition and bringing the Maverick attack to a grinding halt. Dallas failed to execute in the half-court on a very basic level for nine minutes of the fourth quarter, which was more than enough time for the Jazz to put on a spectacular display of effort and intensity.

It’s a shame, really. The Mavs had played three quarters of good basketball to that point, and trailed just one point to the Jazz going into the fourth. Dirk Nowitzki had already totaled 26 points and Jason Terry, 18. Dallas had just closed the third quarter with a 7-2 run, and seemed poised to open the final frame with a bang. Not so. The Jazz countered with a quick 6-1 surge of their own, and though the Mavs were able to withstand the forces of gravity momentarily, the downfall was imminent.

This time around, it wasn’t the Mavs’ unwillingness to put the ball in the hands of their best player, but simply their inability; Andrei Kirilenko (13 points, 6-7 FG, eight rebounds, three assists, four steals) played stellar defense on Dirk to close out the game, and he used his speed and length to make even the most routine entry passes an impossible endeavor. Dallas was only able to attempt 14 shots in the quarter to Utah’s 23; the fourth quarter yielded seven turnovers for the Mavs and seven offensive rebounds for the Jazz. The Mavs have had trouble securing defensive rebounds on a few occasions this season, but in no situation all year has their weakness been more glaring. Kirilenko, Paul Millsap (25 points, 10-16 FG, nine rebounds, four blocks), Wesley Matthews (seven points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals, two blocks), and C.J. Miles (17 points, five rebounds) simply outworked the Mavs on the glass, turning what could have been a decent defensive performance into a pretty miserable one. Utah’s first shot was typically a difficult one, but the array of layups and dunks for second chance points gave the Jazz an easy opportunity to put up points.

Paul Millsap was especially brutal, and his influence was more far-reaching than just the offensive boards. Millsap showed a bit of range in knocking down mid-range jumpers, which made him a perfect lineup substitution for the injured Carlos Boozer. And although Millsap proved to be plenty capable of knocking down the open jumper when spotting up, he didn’t let it distract from his inside game. This is a man that makes his living down low, and though he showed the kind of shooting ability any team would want from their power forward, he has no delusions about what his role is on the court.

But Millsap was countered by the brilliance of Dirk Nowitzki (28 points, 11-16 FG, eight rebounds), who dominated the first three quarters. But Dirk didn’t attempt a single shot in the fourth, due to his own ability to seal off his man, some poor passing from the perimeter, and Kirilenko’s relentless defense. If Nowitzki gets the touches he needs in the fourth, it’s likely we’d be looking at a very different result. But the Jazz have seen that play out once before, and were determined to disrupt the flow of the Mavs’ offense by denying Dirk. It’s hard to argue with that theoretical logic, and based on the result, it’s hard to argue with Utah’s actualization of that logic.

January was a rough month for the Mavs, and they certainly haven’t kicked off February in style. But Rick Carlisle’s strengths as a coach lie in his ability to adjust and adapt, which should be reason enough to hold onto hope going forward. We’ve seen how well the Mavericks are capable of playing on both ends of the court, and though the last few games have been rough, the Mavs aren’t all that far from putting together complete wins.

Closing thoughts:

  • Rodrigue Beaubois challenged a Paul Millsap layup attempt in the first quarter, and went down hard. He was able to walk off the court, and was warming up with the team at halftime, but he did not return. He’s listed as day-to-day with a bruised back, and could play as early as Wednesday.

  • Jason Terry (19 points, eight assists, four steals) looks so much more comfortable as a starter than he did as a reserve. He’s giving the Mavs a huge spark offensively right now, and the contrast between his play now and earlier in the season is astounding. Enduring cold stretches is just part of being a shooter, but it looks like things are finally warming up for Terry and, in turn, the Dallas offense.
  • A great battle between the point guards, as Jason Kidd (11 points, nine assists, two steals, two turnovers) and Deron Williams (18 points, 15 assists, seven rebounds, two steals, four turnovers) both turned in impressive nights. Williams was obviously the better of the two last night, as he is on just about every other night. I can’t say enough about Deron’s game…it’s nearing the point where the difference between him and Chris Paul is a matter of preference rather than performance.
  • Utah’s big fourth quarter run, keyed by their offensive rebounding, was actually achieved by going small. Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, C.J. Miles, Andrei Kirilenko, and Paul Millsap found a way to dominate the Mavs’ starters (but with Gooden rather than Dampier) on the glass, which doesn’t bode well. Rebounds are supposed to be the concession when teams go small, but the Jazz found a way to turn it into a strength.
  • Eddie Najera is finally getting a little bit of garbage time burn. He’s played a total of four minutes between last night’s game and Saturday night’s. He’s also attempted two shots and made both, showing his shooting touch from the corner in making a three and a long two. He’s not exactly making the splash that Humphries is in Jersey, but the deal was never intended to bring in matching basketball talent.
  • Josh Howard played just 11 minutes, and shot 1-4 from the field with two turnovers. Somebody change the “Josh Howard Doomsday Clock” to ten minutes ’til.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 17, 2009 under xOther | 7 Comments to Read

A bit thin again, today.  Get used to it, Mav-heads; It’s summertime.

  • Jason Kidd has had a triple double against 27 of the 30 teams in the league.  I wouldn’t count on him going for the cycle, though.
  • Check out the latest Podcast Paroxysm, which has absolutely nothing to do with the Mavs.  Unless you count Brandon Bass, in which case it has a small link to the Mavs.
  • This humble blogger wouldn’t dare tell real journalists how to do their jobs, but this article rubbed me the wrong way.
  • Mark Cuban, via Gary Washburn of FanHouse, on the possibility of Dirk opting out next summer: “I’ve got a good relationship with Dirk…I’m not worried about [Dirk opting out] one way or another. You try to rebuild while you’re winning. You try to add a young piece here and a young piece there and see what happens. We’ve been doing this for nine years, 10 years now and every couple of years everybody say well it’s time to rebuild and we don’t, so we’ll see.”
  • Cubes, via the same post, on Jason Kidd’s contract: “That’s just part of the drill. You don’t expect him to play at the same level all three years…You hope so, but at the same time, that’s just the way NBA contracts work. It gives us a lot of flexibility. But Jason’s a special athlete. And we have a young point guard so a lot of times you can add value beyond on the court.”
  • The Jazz have decided to match the Blazers’ offer sheet for Paul Millsap, which means two things: The Mavs aren’t the only team left out in the cold on the restricted free agent market, and the Western rival Trailblazers aren’t adding significant pieces.
  • Busting the myth that the Mavs overpaid for Shawn Marion.
  • I think this is what they call “rubbing it in.”