The Difference: Los Angeles Lakers 109, Dallas Mavericks 93

Posted by Rob Mahoney on March 22, 2012 under Recaps | 12 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas92.092.645.121.08.711.7
San Antonio110.654.012.528.613.8

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

  • The basketball gods had seemingly arranged a game for Andrew Bynum to dominate, and yet just about every Laker but Bynum (nine points, 4-5 FG, seven rebounds) dominated. Some credit goes to the Mavs for throwing an extra defender Bynum’s way quickly, but this was no defensive victory; as much as I would love to shower praise on Ian Mahinmi and Brandan Wright (who, to be clear, did play effective defense), Bynum’s lack of shot attempts was purely a product of the Lakers’ otherwise dominant offense. It certainly didn’t seem as if L.A. was too focused on establishing Bynum on the block via re-post — and it didn’t matter a bit, as the Lakers’ off-ball movement ended up deciding the game.
  • In Shawn Marion and Delonte West’s absence, Jason Kidd was forced to take primary on-ball responsibility against Kobe Bryant (30 points, 11-18 FG, five rebounds, four assists, four turnovers). He honestly did what he could; there have been games this season where Kidd’s defensive effort is fleeting, but this was not one of them. He bodied Bryant when he could, tried to deny him the ball as much as possible, and yet few of his efforts produced favorable defensive outcomes. There were many instances in which Kidd played textbook defense only to be bested by Kobe being Kobe — a demonstration of dominance that at once must be both maddening and shrug worthy. Bryant worked hard to free himself up for quality shot attempts, and though not all of his shots were carefully chosen, it was hard to fault this particular process (particularly when juxtaposed with Bryant’s occasional ball-dominating ways).
  • Both teams started this game with a ridiculous, extended rally of mid-range jumpers. The Mavericks merely failed to adapt once those shots stopped falling, and as for the Lakers — well, I’m not sure those shots ever did. It was just jumper after jumper after jumper, largely produced through quality play action.
  • Jason Terry (23 points, 8-14 FG, 3-6 3FG, zero turnovers) is a masterful practitioner of the pick and roll, and though his ball-handling judgment has been questionable in recent weeks, his approach was perfectly on-point on Wednesday. Los Angeles trapped Terry fairly hard in pick-and-roll situations, but he managed to play his way out of and around them. JET walked the line of aggressive scoring and steady playmaking with perfect balance, a fact betrayed by Terry’s misleading goose egg in the assist column. Don’t be fooled; Terry did an excellent job of messing up his teammates, even if some unfortunate misses robbed him of any box score glory.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 99, Cleveland Cavaliers 96

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 8, 2011 under Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot Chart — GameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas94.0105.345.228.934.017.0
Cleveland102.145.614.325.511.7

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’ 105.3 points per 100 possessions wasn’t an outstanding mark, but Dallas actually executed rather effectively on offense. The turnovers were a bit high, but the patience, pressure, and ensuing high-percentage looks were there. Quality looks were had around the basket and on uncontested jumpers, but something hiccuped during the transition between the notion and actualization of the Mavs’ shots. Dallas missed their first eight field goal attempts, and though they had more productive offensive sequences, that early stretch encapsulated the game nicely. Ian Mahinmi (11 points, 4-6 FG, eight rebounds, three turnovers) was the only Maverick to shoot more than 50% from the field, but don’t mistake Dallas’ inability to score for an inability to execute. Do, however, take that as an indicator of Mahinmi’s effectiveness. He leapfrogged Brendan Haywood (DNP-CD) in the rotation, and stayed in the game with his constant activity. Mahinmi even went to work in the low post on a pair of possessions, where he showed surprising polish. It’s getting more and more difficult for Rick Carlisle to keep Mahinmi off the floor, which makes Haywood’s situation rather bleak and the team’s cap situation even bleaker.
  • I’m not sure what it is in Ramon Sessions’ (19 points, 6-12 FG, 13 assists, six rebounds) game that makes him so capable of attacking the Mavs’ defense, but in two games this season he’s seemed shockingly effective against this particular competition. Sessions is good. He’s a starting-caliber player, if surrounded with the right pieces. Yet against the Mavs he looks the part of a legitimate franchise cornerstone. Sessions essentially duplicated the 19-12-7 line he put up the last time these two teams met, and fault rests up and down the roster. Neither Jason Kidd nor J.J. Barea seemed able to hang with him, and once Sessions got past the initial defender his path to the basket often went undeterred. Dallas struggled defensively in many regards (J.J. Hickson went hog wild with 26 points on 18 shots, Antawn Jamison had it far too easy scoring inside, and Christian Eyenga somehow managed 15 points despite being a Jamario Moon’s Jamario Moon), but several of their failings are summed up nicely by Sessions’ simple, unbothered, straight-line path to the rim.
  • Dirk Nowitzki (12 points, 5-11 FG, six rebounds, five turnovers) injured his right wrist in the second quarter, and looked understandably hesitant to act as the Mavs’ primary shot-taker. It doesn’t appear to be serious, but should Nowitzki look to take a step back offensively until his shooting motion is relatively pain-free, the rest of the Mavs will need to be a bit more accurate. Mahinmi, Shawn Marion (17 points, 5-15 FG, 10 rebounds, seven offensive), and Tyson Chandler (10 points, 11 rebounds, four offensive) were able to salvage a ton of those misses on Monday night with offensive boards, and the bench created enough scoring to avoid what could have been a hugely embarrassing lost. Peja Stojakovic can also hopefully be a bit more helpful in the scoring column as Dallas moves forward; his Maverick debut came with some inevitable rust, but Stojakovic moved well and found open looks. Now he — and the rest of his new teammates — just have to make them.

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 104, Cleveland Cavaliers 95

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 3, 2011 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas89.0116.954.216.930.611.2
Cleveland106.753.79.925.715.7

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

  • Nothing like playing against the Cavaliers’ defense to get the offense going sans Nowitzki, Butler, and Beaubois. Dallas did their part to execute, but there’s no question that playing against a defense without shot-blockers or capable defensive bigs did wonders for the Mavs’ inside game. Lots of productive cutting, driving, and ball movement, which generated good looks both inside and out. The offense was simple, but that’s fine against the Cavs, especially without Anderson Varejao in the lineup. It wasn’t a dominant offensive performance — and those expecting anything of the sort in the Mavs’ current circumstances best be scanned for brain damage — but Dallas held modest advantages in each of the four factors.
  • The defense was another story. A win is a win is a win is a win, but the back line of the zone was sloppy, and the pick-and-roll coverage was generally a mess. Defensive breakdowns are inevitable, but the frequency of open Cleveland dunks and layups in their half-court offense was pretty depressing. Definitely not one of the Mavs’ finer defensive performances, and I’m not sure injuries provide a valid excuse.
  • A possible caveat, though: because of Nowitzki and Butler’s injuries, plenty of Mavs are playing out of position in the zone. Those that had been manning the top of the zone are now on the wing in some cases, and while the principles are the same, the execution is different. Even those changes shouldn’t have resulted in so many open looks at the rim, but it’s something to consider.
  • Butler’s absence ushered Jason Terry (18 points, 8-14 FG, four assists) back into the starting lineup, where Shawn Marion (22 points, 11-16 FG, five rebounds) also stood in for Nowitzki. Kidd-Terry-Stevenson-Marion-Chandler is a very weird offensive lineup, but JET found his jumper at the bottom of his travel bag, DeShawn Stevenson (21 points, 6-13 FG, 5-12 3FG, four assists, three rebounds) was absolutely tremendous from deep but was far more than a spot-up shooter, and Marion moved well in the Mavs’ half-court offense and on the initial and secondary break. Toss in double-digit scoring efforts from Jason Kidd (10 points, 3-13 FG, eight assists, four rebounds, four turnovers) and Tyson Chandler (14 points, 6-6 FG, 14 rebounds, three turnovers), and you have a one-game, completely unsustainable blueprint for makeshift success.
  • Mavs fans should already be quite aware of Antawn Jamison’s (35 points, 14-22 FG, 3-6 3FG, 10 reobunds) scoring savvy, but games like this one bring Jamison’s creativity around the basket to the forefront, if only for a moment. Jamison has been pegged as a “stretch 4,” but I’m not quite sure why; he’s an interior player with range, not a Rashard Lewis or Troy Murphy-like talent that works from the outside in. Reducing Jamison to a perimeter threat erases the dimensions of the game in which he’s been the most successful, and as he showed against the Mavs, Jamison is still plenty capable of piling up points with an array of flips, hooks, counters, and tips.
  • Dominique Jones (nine points, 2-10 FG, five rebounds, three assists, two blocks) was recalled from the Legends after Butler’s injury status became grave, and played 21 minutes as a creator/scorer. Rick Carlisle actually ran a decent amount of the offense through Jones, who proved himself a capable drive-and-kick player if nothing else. His vision isn’t transcendent, but Jones is unselfish and capable of making all kinds of passes. Jones still struggles to finish after getting to the rim — odd considering how strong of a finisher he was in college and at Summer League — but that limitation seems nothing more than a temporary hurdle. Jones will be a quality driver/slasher in time, and for now, he’s showing the quickness to get around his man, the vision and willingness to make smart plays, and a veteran knack for drawing contact.
  • Marion scored 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting in 15 second-half minutes. Those buckets weren’t exactly tide-altering (though the final margin was less than impressive, the Mavs’ offense kept them in control throughout), but valuable nonetheless, particularly with such talented scorers riding the inactive list.
  • None of us should expect Rick Carlisle’s rotation to be constant given his current personnel, so take the significance of Brendan Haywood’s return to semi-prominence with a grain of salt. Haywood could end up glued to the bench again by midweek, but for now, he’s playing right behind Tyson Chandler once more.
  • Sneakily absurd performance of the night: Ramon Sessions finished with 19 points (9-13 FG), 12 assists, and seven rebounds. Sessions benefited from the confused Dallas defense on more than a few occasions, and got up for a couple of dunks. Still, the full volume of Sessions’ production escaped me, and the fact that he nearly registered a pretty impressive triple double seems crazy, even if it shouldn’t.