Quoteboard: Phoenix Suns 102, Dallas Mavericks 91

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on April 11, 2013 under Interviews | Read the First Comment

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Wednesday night ended up being the final jab into the collective jaw of the Dallas Mavericks. They suffered a devastating 102-91 loss to the Phoenix Suns. On top of that, the Los Angeles Lakers were able to secure a 113-106 loss in Portland to the Trail Blazers. The combination of the Dallas loss and Los Angeles win sealed the fate for the Mavericks. Dallas is now officially eliminated from playoff contention, ending their 12 year streak of consecutive trips to the postseason.

The loss to Phoenix put an end to the Suns’ 10-game losing streak. Before securing the victory, the Suns had not defeated the Mavericks at American Airlines Center since Mar. 14, 2007, when they recorded a 129-127 double-overtime win. The Mavericks had won 10 straight and 22 of the last 27 matchups with the Suns in Dallas before the loss.

Goran Dragic (21 points and a game-high 13 assists) and Luis Scola (11 points and a game-high 15 rebounds) both recorded double-doubles for Phoenix in the win.

Shawn Marion tallied a game-high 22 points to go along with a team-high nine rebounds and three steals in 34 minutes. He scored 20-plus points for the third straight game (eighth time this season).

Some notes before the quotes:

- Marion’s game marked the first time since February 2007 that he scored 20-plus points in three consecutive games (27 at Minnesota Feb. 23, 2007, 21 at Atlanta Feb. 25, 2007, 22 at Indiana Feb. 27, 2007). Marion is averaging 22.3 points and 9.3 rebounds over his last three games.

- Dirk Nowitzki totaled 21 points to go along with eight rebounds and three assists in 34 minutes. It was his 17th game with 20-plus points this season.

- The streak of 12 consecutive trips to the postseason was longest in franchise history and was the second-longest in the NBA. At 10 years, the Denver Nuggets now hold the second-longest active streak in the league. San Antonio (16 consecutive playoff appearances) is the only team with a longer active streak.

- Before this run of 12 straight playoff appearances, Dallas longest streak was five, from 1983-88.

- Dallas’ 12 straight playoff appearances ties for 13th-longest in NBA history. Syracuse/Philadelphia holds record of 22 straight (1960-81)

Here is the quoteboard for Dallas’ death blow of a loss to Phoenix.

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Fourth Round of Bloom and Doom

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on April 2, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

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It’s time for another round of Bloom and Doom.

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 have touched base and discussed topics with our own unique point of view. It’s been a while, so it was necessary for us to reconnect and agree and disagree on a few subjects.

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 Mavs.

This round of bloom and doom analyzes if Rick Carlisle is having the coaching performance of his career, which 2011 departure would fit best this year and other topics.

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The Race is On

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on April 1, 2013 under News | Read the First Comment

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After playing in the friendly confines of the American Airlines Center for the last six games, the Dallas Mavericks embark on a do or die road trip that will have them going to play the Lakers, Nuggets, Kings and Trail Blazers. Dallas is one-and-a-half games back of the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Lakers from the 8th spot in the West. The Lakers have the same record as the Jazz, but the Jazz have the tiebreaker over the Lakers so they currently hold the final spot. “There’s no need to overstate the obvious,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said before the team departed to Los Angeles. “We need to win every game we can game. This is a challenge you have to look forward to.”

Dallas is once again one game away from reaching .500. They’re in the thick – as thick as Dirk’s beard – of the race for the 8th seed and trying to become only third team since 1989 (Both the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers in 1997) to make playoffs after being 10 games or more under .500. “We’re trying to be the greatest comeback since Lazarus,” Carlisle said. “Really, that’s what we’re trying to do.” At the end of the nine games, they’ll see where they stand. The first game will be against the Los Angeles Lakers. Before the season, if you told people that the Mavs would be in a chase with the Lakers for a seed, many would think it would be for the 2nd or 3rd seed in the conference. Unfortunately for both, they’re both scratching and clawing just to get in.

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Quoteboard: Dallas Mavericks 100, Chicago Bulls 98

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on March 30, 2013 under Interviews | Read the First Comment

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Dirk Nowitzki refused to let his team lose. Dallas trailed by 12 (97-85) with less than four minutes to go in the fourth quarter, but close the game on a 15-1 run en route to a 100-98 win over the Chicago Bulls. The 12-point comeback is biggest deficit overcome in a win when trailing with less than 4:00 to play in NBA this season. Dirk sealed the deal for the Mavericks as he hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left. He was untouchable in the fourth quarter as he went 6-of-7 from the field and 3-of-4 from 3-point range for 15 points in the fourth quarter. Dirk scored 15 of the teams 25 points. In the end, Dirk tallied a season-high (game-high) 35 points to go along with seven rebounds in 34 minutes against Chicago.

Brandan Wright recorded his first double-double of the season (fourth career) with 17 points and a career-high-tying 13 rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench against Chicago. It was his first double-double since April. 1, 2011 at Philadelphia (15 points and 11 rebounds while with New Jersey).

An MRI revealed that Mavericks shooting guard O.J. Mayo has a mild sprain of the AC joint in his left shoulder. He played in the game and logged just under 42 minutes of action. Mayo went 1-of-13 from the floor. It was evident he was struggling with his shoulder as he missed his first two shots of the day, two left-handed layups. Through the pain, Mayo grinded out the game and provided an all-around effort that made up for his poor shooting performance.

For the Bulls, Nate Robinson went a perfect 7-of-7 from beyond the arc en route to a team-high-tying 25 points for Chicago. He scored Chicago’s first 11 points of the fourth quarter and finished with 15 points in the fourth. He added six assists in 32 minutes off the bench. Carlos Boozer (25 points and 11 rebounds) and Luol Deng (25 points and seven rebounds) combined for 50 points and 18 rebounds.

Really though, this is about Dirk Nowitzki.

Some notes before the quotes:

- Including the postseason, the game against the Bulls marked the 12th time in his career that Dirk made a game-winning basket in the final 10 seconds of a game (and the first since Mar. 30, 2012 at Orlando). Nowitzki, who had 33 points vs. the L.A. Clippers on 3/26, scored 30-plus points for the second time in his last three games (third time this season). He is averaging 29.7 points on 62.1 percent shooting (.455 3FG) over his last three games.

- Dirk during the homestand: 61.5 percent from the field, 44.4 percent from 3, 90 percent from the line. 24.0 points and 7.0 in six games for Dirk.

- Nowitzki went a perfect 8-for-8 from the field (2-for-2 from deep) and 2-for-2 from the line in the first half against Chicago. He led all players with 20 points in 17 first-half minutes. It was the most points he’s scored in any half this season (previous: 17 in first half at Milwaukee Mar. 12). Nowitzki scored 20-plus points in the first half for the first time since Mar. 13, 2012 vs. Washington (20 points). It was the most points he’s scored in any half since Apr. 18, 2012 vs. Houston (31 points).

- By shooting 14-of-17 from the field and shooting 82.4 percent from the field, Dallas has now gone 13-2 in games where Dirk shoots at least 80 percent from the field (min. 10 field goal attempts). Dallas had lost their previous two games under those circumstances.

- Nowitzki, who had 20 points in the first half against Chicago on Saturday, scored 20-plus points for the seventh time in his last 10 games (16th time this season). Nowitzki is averaging 22.0 points on 57.1 percent shooting over his last 11 games.

Here is the quoteboard for Dallas’ heroic win over Chicago. Meet everyone at the altar of Dirk.

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Quoteboard: Indiana Pacers 103, Dallas Mavericks 78

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on March 29, 2013 under Interviews | Be the First to Comment

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The Indiana Pacers were well aware of the fact that the Dallas Mavericks were one game away from shaving their beards. Indiana manhandled Dallas en route to a 103-78 victory. This was the worst loss for the Mavericks since their first matchup against the Houston Rockets to start the month (suffered a 136-103 loss on Mar. 3). Pacers forward Paul George tallied a game-high 24 points to go along with eight rebounds, a team-high six assists and three steals in 38 minutes.

Dirk Nowitzki totaled a team-high 21 points and seven boards in 33 minutes against Indiana on Thursday. He scored 20-plus points for the sixth time in his last nine games (15th time this season). Nowitzki is averaging 20.7 points on 54. 1 percent shooting (.419 3FG) over his last 10 games. Dirk is averaging 19.1 points and 8.3 rebounds since the All-Star break. He is shooting 51.6 percent from the field and 44.4 percent (24-of-54) from beyond the arc since the break.

Fortunately for the Mavericks, the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Milwaukee Bucks. That means Dallas didn’t lose any actual ground to Los Angeles in the standings. By being two games under .500 now, the earliest they can shave is now Apr. 2, They would be able to do so by beating the Chicago Bulls and…the Los Angeles Lakers.

Some notes before the quotes:

- With the total being 55-34, Indiana clobbered Dallas on the glass. Nov. 24 against the Lakers still remains the largest rebounding deficit the Mavericks had this year (-22).

- After the game was tied at 41 at halftime, Indiana outscored Dallas 34-17 in the third quarter. Dallas shot 7-of-20 (35.0 percent) from the field in the third quarter. Indiana shot 14-of-20 (70.0 percent) from the field.

- Dallas shot 38.6 percent from the field in the loss. Dallas had shot above 40 percent in 31 straight coming into the game. That was their longest streak since 41 in 1987, and the franchise record is 72 from Jan. 1986 through Dec. 1986. Minus Dirk’s 10-of-20 shooting line, the Mavericks shot 22-of-63 (34.9 percent) from the field.

- Dallas is now 5-26 on the year when they score less than 100 points, 3-26 when they shoot below 45 percent from the field.

- The 78 points scored by the Mavericks ties their second-lowest scoring output for the season. The 74 they scored against the Toronto Raptors on Dec. 14 marks their lowest total for the year.

Here is the quoteboard for Dallas’ dud against Indiana.

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Thermodynamics: Week 22

Posted by Travis Wimberly on March 28, 2013 under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment

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

Until this month, we’d gone most of the season without being able to celebrate undefeated weeks by the Mavs. Now, all of the sudden, we’ve been bestowed that privilege. This week was surely the most impressive, as the Mavs went 3-0 against a decently tough schedule.

Let’s hit the highs and lows of the week.

Week 22 (Celtics, Jazz, Clippers)

FIRE

1) Dirk Nowitzki

A vintage week from Dirk, as he averaged 24.0 points per game on a cumulative 27-of-49 (55%) shooting along with seven rebounds per game. He was particularly effective in crunch time against the Clippers, dropping 15 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter and overtime alone. Nowitzki’s season-long efficiency numbers are finally starting to approach his usual, otherworldly levels; as of today, his true-shooting percentage is 56.2% (well below his monstrous 61.2% during the 2010-2011 championship season, but otherwise comparable to most recent seasons). His effective field-goal percentage is 51.2%, which is higher than any of the last six seasons other than 2010-2011.

Some of that can be attributed to the fact that Nowitzki has posted an amazingly low usage rate — just 23.8%, by far his lowest in nine seasons — though it can also be difficult for a high-volume scorer to find such consistent accuracy when they don’t touch the ball early and often. Dirk defies that trend, though the Mavs still need to work to get him the ball regularly (which they were much better at this week than last).

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Quoteboard: Dallas Mavericks 109, Los Angeles Clippers 102 (Overtime)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on March 27, 2013 under Interviews | Read the First Comment

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The Dallas Mavericks had their most impressive victory of the season with a 109-102 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. The Mavericks moved to 2-8 in overtime games this season. They also beat a top-5 team in the West for the first time since they beat the Memphis Grizzlies on Jan. 12. Dallas must have gotten a blood transfusion leading up to the game as it appears they now have alligator blood running their veins. Breaking the rut that seemed to haunt them all season long, the Mavericks found a way to execute when they needed to and got clutch performances out of Dirk Nowitzki and OJ Mayo.

Nowitzki tallied a season-high 33 points to go along with a team-high nine rebounds in 39 minutes against the Clippers (previous high: 30 vs. L.A. Lakers Mar. 24). Chris Paul, who finished with a season-high 33 points, hit a potential dagger basket with 5.3 seconds remaining in regulation. OJ Mayo got the ball along the baseline and had Paul defending him. Mayo spun away from the second defender and found daylight for an easy layup, forcing overtime. Mayo actually used Paul’s aggression against him as Paul over-committed and sacrificed the baseline and the easiest path to the basket.

Mayo went 5-of-15 from the field for only 11 points, but stepped up with some incredible defense on Paul. The point guard for the Clippers was still able to break through but he had to earn everything he got against the Mavericks.

Some notes before the quotes:

- Dirk Nowitzki passed Patrick Ewing (24,815) for 17th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with a jumper at the 8:51 mark of the first quarter. The basket gave him four points for the game and 24,816 for his career. Nowitzki finished with 33 points against Los Angeles and now has 24,845 career points. Jerry West ranks 16th all-time with 25,192 career points.

- Nowitzki went 12-of-21 from the field against the Clippers on Tuesday. With his 11th field goal of the game (8,694th career) at the 4-minute mark of overtime, he passed Elgin Baylor (8,693) for 20th place on the NBA’s all-time field goals made list. Nowitzki now has 8,695 career field goals. Gary Payton ranks 19th all-time with 8,708 career field goals.

- Lamar Odom got the business from the fans. He was booed every single time he touched the ball.

- The Clippers went 10-for-22 on 3-point baskets through three quarters. They went 0-for-11 on three-pointers in the fourth quarter and overtime.

- With the win, Dallas is now one game back of the the Los Angeles Lakers for the 8th spot in the Western Conference. They are also one game under .500 for the first time since Dec. 14.

Here is the quoteboard for Dallas’ potentially season-changing victory over the Clippers.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 109, Los Angeles Clippers 102

Posted by Kirk Henderson on under Recaps | 4 Comments to Read

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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.

  • The strategic decision to double team Chris Paul late in the fourth quarter (33 points, seven turnovers) stifled Paul at the perfect moment for Dallas. Starting with a jumper over Mike James at the 4:13 mark in the fourth, Paul put on a one-man 6-0 run to pull the Clippers from down 87-90 to up 93-90 in just 79 seconds. By doubling Paul early in the shot clock, Dallas effectively shut down any semblance of offense for Los Angeles. The other Clippers looked unsure what to do offensively and the result was three contested three pointers that would not fall, giving Dallas a chance to get back into the game after Paul’s momentum shifting run.
  • In a refreshing return to form, Dallas insisted on going to Dirk Nowtizki (33 points, nine rebounds) in both the fourth quarter and overtime. In those final two periods of basketball Dirk scored 15 points on a mere six shot attempts, getting to the line seven times. The concern over the Dallas guards and their inability to get the ball to Dirk is not an issue that will go away with one game, but seeing Darren Collison actively look to give Dirk the ball when he’s posting up hard is a welcome change.
  • While the focus might be on O.J. Mayo’s impressive driving lay up to send the game into over time, his defensive efforts on Chris Paul at the end of the third and during the double teaming sequence of the fourth were fantastic. His length seemed to bother Paul much more than Mike James, Darren Collison, or even Shawn Marion, forcing Paul into a few uncharacteristic bad decisions. Oddly, coach Rick Carlisle gave Shawn Marion the assignment for the final Clipper regulation play (where Paul hit an incredible lay up at a nearly impossible angle), but I would’ve rather seen him stick with what had frustrated Paul in previous possessions.
  • While I value Rick Carlisle immensely (see above with his choice to double Paul), he’s been very inflexible at times this season. Against the Clippers, his late game and overtime play calling nearly cost Dallas the game.  The decision to run isolation plays for Vince Carter in the final minute of the fourth and the final minute of overtime defy logic, particularly in the overtime when Dirk had been unstoppable. Carter has been brilliant this season, but is at his best on catch and shoot threes and trying to get to the rim against the bench players of an opponent. Carlisle put Vince in situations did not necessarily play to his current strengths, particularly when the Mavericks have another potent final shot taker.
  • The Mavericks started the third quarter in frustrating fashion, picking up four team fouls in under two minutes. After putting the Clippers into the bonus with nearly seven and a half minutes left in the quarter, it felt as if the game might get out of hand quickly for Dallas. However, the often foul-prone Mavericks only committed two more fouls the remainder of the period and managed to keep pace with a Clipper offense that is capable to putting up points quickly.
  • The ever reliable Shawn Marion (four points, four turnovers) looked out of sync from the opening tip. Though it’s surely not a trend, it was bizarre to see how off Shawn Marion was with his timing. As he’s aged and lost aspects of his athleticism, his game has shifted more towards anticipation and understanding of the game. He misplaced passes on offense, mistimed jumps on rebounds, and was surprisingly ineffective on defense. That the Mavericks won without a strong Marion contribution is fantastic, but I remain shocked at how out of sorts Marion looked against the Clippers.
  • Center by committee won out again, with Brandan Wright and Elton Brand chipping in a combined 19 points, 12 rebounds, and six blocks . With Dirk both missing games and taking time to round into form, it was a clear challenge for the coaching staff to determine which players work in a given situation with such a limited sample size of data. I remain shocked that a Wright-Nowitzki front court has worked reasonably well defensively. That all of these pieces are coming together at all is a testament to the players and the coaching staff. It’s is also a lesson for fans just how important chemistry is and how long it can take to build.

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.

The Zach Attack, Part Two

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on March 26, 2013 under Commentary, Interviews | 2 Comments to Read

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In Part One of my conversation with Grantland’s Zach Lowe, we discussed the recent disappearing act of Dirk Nowitzki’s shot attempts, Rick Carlisle’s coaching and the whacky twists and turns the point guard position has created for the team this season.

Part Two really digs into the meat and potatoes for the Mavericks. This summer will once again present a crossroads of sorts for Dallas. There’s also a decision the Mavericks made after winning their championship in 2011 that will likely hover around the franchise for quite some time. Lowe discusses the hindsight look at that as well as looking at the legacy Dirk Nowitzki will imprint on the league.

Let’s dig in. Here is an edited transcript of our conversation.

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The Zach Attack, Part One

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on March 25, 2013 under Commentary, Interviews | 3 Comments to Read

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It’s not every day you get to chat with, in my opinion, one of the best writers in basketball. I had the privilege to talk to Grantland’s Zach Lowe over the weekend to go over key subjects that revolve around the Mavericks. His exclusive, inside look at how SportVU is changing basketball is can’t-miss stuff. With his vast knowledge of the league, including the nuances of the salary cap and the CBA, Lowe’s insight on what is going on in Dallas is definitely worth reading. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to get into the twisted fascination he has with NBA mascots. At least we have something saved up for hopefully another conversation with the talented writer.

With all of the things we were able to discuss, we’re able to break this into two parts that will be easy to digest and absorb. In part one, we discussed the recent disappearing act of Dirk Nowitzki’s shot attempts, Rick Carlisle’s coaching and the situation that has hampered the Mavericks all season long. The conversation covers pretty much the nuts and bolts for Dallas. Let’s dig in.

Here is an edited transcript of our conversation.

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