- Amadou Fall, the Mavs director of scouting, is officially leaving the team to head the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program in South Africa. Congrats to Amadou, and though his talents will be missed (Marc Stein cites Fall as a major player in the decision to draft Rodrigue Beaubois), he’ll be working for a terrific cause and will undoubtedly do some fine work.
- Jason Terry on the significance of his hot shooting against the Pistons (via Tim MacMahon): “Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come.”
- Shawn Marion’s high-energy bobblehead.
- Sebastian Pruiti, my fellow TrueHooper over at NetsAreScorching, has launched a new blog entitled NBA Playbook. It’s exactly what it sounds like, and Sebastian broke down the Mavs’ “miscommunication” that led to a wide open, potentially game-tying three point attempt for Rodney Stuckey.
- Where have you gone, Calvin Booth?
- Dirk is a no-brainer for the best European player of all time, but could Pau Gasol eventually nab the honor? Dirk is two years Pau’s senior, so it could very well depend on just how long the two remain active and just how successful Pau and the Lakers can be. On an individual level, I’m not sure the two are even comparable; Dirk can simply do things on the offensive end that no other player can do, while Gasol, for all his talents, isn’t built to carry an offense in the same way. That said, if championships are part of the criteria, Gasol already has a ring on his finger and is in a good position to possibly win a few more. I’m not sure how much the ‘ships count in the context of this discussion, but that’s the one area in which Pau clearly trumps Dirk.
- Now infamous former Mavs stat guru Wayne Winston on this season’s MVP (via Henry Abbott): “Surely Dirk. He leads the whole league in two of my categories, plus/minus points and impact (plus-26 points, plus-73% impact). Luol Deng, Ray Allen and LeBron James have also been great. People forget Kobe Bryant has great teammates, so I do not think he is up there.” High praise, albeit from a guy who has made his share of dubious claims.
- On the surface, this is about a blogger who has long walked the realm of the NBA utterly team-less. But dig a little deeper, and you’ve got one of the most cogent, self-aware, and perceptive writers in the biz pinning down exactly what it means to be a fan. Lap up the praise, Moore, because this new era of your NBA fanhood has started with a bang.
“Motivation will almost always beat mere talent.” (Ed. note: But it’s nice to have a bit of both, isn’t it?)
The Mavericks are a good enough team that on most nights in the regular season, they can get away with only playing one half of good basketball. That said, it’s not a very good habit to get into. It’s one thing to drop a stinker of a first quarter (slow starts have become a bonafide trend) against Detroit, but the game in L.A. proved that good teams with capitalize on Dallas’ generosity. And considering it’s that caliber of team that the Mavs hope to be and to beat, their primary goal from now until April should be to play games with consistent effort and make starting strong a point of emphasis.
But hey, a win is a win is a win. The Mavs did rally back from a 14-point deficit. They did hold Ben Gordon to just nine points (4-11 FG, four turnovers). They did experience a complete revival from Jason Terry (26 points, 11-19 FG, five assists, zero turnovers), who looked like himself for the first time in a long while. And in the second half they turned up the offense, scoring 62 points (22 of 40 from the field) over the game’s final 24. All things considered, it was a sold win, even if the Mavs decided to handicap themselves with an awful first quarter performance.
Drew Gooden (10 points, 4-16 FG, 18 rebounds, two steals and a block) did a nice job filling in for Erick Dampier, even if his career-high nine offensive rebounds were only fueled by Gooden’s frequent misses at the rim. Drew simply couldn’t convert his tips in the first half, as each bat of the ball found just the wrong part of the rim to roll off of. His defense was well short of spectacular, but I still appreciate the overall effort.
Still, the Mavs have a serious problem defending the rim without Erick Dampier. There’s just no help coming from the weak side to prevent easy layups and dunks (or at the very least, to take a hard foul). Therein lies Damp’s real defensive value. His shot blocking numbers are impressive, but he alters shots and changes the decision-making of opponents’ offenses simply by being in the game. He’s much more of a defensive threat than Gooden, as evidenced by the parade to the rim in Los Angeles and Rodney Stuckey’s (15 points, 7-15 FG, six assists) frequent, uncontested trips deep into the paint. It’s a real detriment to the team defense to have Dampier on the bench, and though it wasn’t the difference between a win and a loss last night, it very well could be on others. Get well soon, Damp.
Overall, not the best win in the world, but another night where the Mavs were able to take advantage of the differential in talent. The Pistons roster is rather middling in that regard, and though Rip Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Tayshaun Prince, etc. are solid players, there just wasn’t enough to counter Terry’s explosions, ‘the usual’ from Dirk (22 points, 9-20 FG, 21 rebounds, four assists, three turnovers), and contributions from a talented group of veterans. Whereas Detroit has to lean heavily on Ben Wallace, Jonas Jerebko (who will have a long, successful career in this league), and Chris Wilcox, the Mavs have the benefit of looking down the rotation and seeing shiny, happy people like Shawn Marion (18 points, 5-7 FG, seven rebounds), Josh Howard (12 points, 5-10 FG, three rebounds, two assists), and Drew Gooden. So even if the bigger names on the Pistons can keep pace with the Mavs’ offensive stars, they’re still likely to face a deficit when it comes to the rest of the rotation. Even though Rick Carlisle isn’t playing a ten man rotation anymore, this Mavs team is deep.
- Rodney Stuckey was absolutely, positively wide open on an attempt for a game-tying three with two seconds remaining…but missed long. It was hardly by design (Rick Carlisle cited probable miscommunication post-game), but Stuck is a 17% three-point shooter on the season, and hasn’t made one since November 25th. Obviously you’d prefer to avoid defensive breakdowns with the game on the line, but Dallas picked the right guy to leave open.
- A pretty disappointing game for J.J. Barea (zero points, 0-4 FG, four assists). I know I was singing a different tune just a week ago, but it may be time for Barea to retire to the bench in favor of Howard.
- The most impressive thing about JET’s performance was, to me, that he refused to dominate the ball. In the past, Terry has been as guilty of this as anyone with a hot hand; the natural reaction of players shooting and scoring well is to keep the ball, force shots, and make more mistakes. It’s just the flip side to having an aggressive scoring mentality.
GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT: The Gold Star of the Night undoubtedly goes to Jason Terry. Welcome back JET. You can read my thoughts on Jason Terry’s game and his return to prominence in today’s Daily Dime.
“How beautiful is youth! How bright it gleams with its illusions, aspirations, dreams! Book of Beginnings, Story without End, Each maid a heroine, and each man a friend!”
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Winning isn’t always pretty, but in games like the Mavs’ win over the Pistons, you can always appreciate the little things. The offense was decent rather than miserable. Ben Gordon (5 points, 1-16 FG) was locked in a steel cage and thrown into the ocean. Rodrigue Beaubois made it perfectly clear that he has no intention of staying buried on the bench. Those are the things a fan can take solace in, even if the Mavs let a mediocre Pistons team hang in this game for far too long.
Rodney Stuckey (28 points, 12-20 FG) and Will Bynum (27 points, 11-16 FG) proved yet again that this team has trouble containing quick, penetrating guard play. A late shift to the zone seemed to slow down Bynum, but don’t let that fool you into thinking the Mavs put up a solid defensive front. Jason Kidd, in particular, looked a step or two slow in trying to curtail Stuckey. It would have been nice to see a second half response like we did against Aaron Brooks and the Houston Rockets, but the Mavs more or less retained the same defensive strategies in trying to defend Bynum and Stuckey. But whether it was by design (Dirk mentioned post-game that the primary defensive objective was to take Ben Gordon out of the game) or not, Stuckey and Bynum were getting what they wanted when they wanted it.
But the Mavs’ own quick guard had a field day in half-court sets and the transition game alike. Rodrigue Beaubois had a perfect night from the field (14 points, 6-6 FG, 2-2 3FG, 4 assists, ZERO turnovers) and continues to impress with his decision-making abilities. After watching the summer league games, I was expecting Beaubois to be a bit out of control, try to do to much, and be his own worst enemy until he got his sea legs. Well, those sea legs must have been shipped overnight before the season began, because even Rodrigue’s lesser games are graced by a savvy that goes far beyond his years and professional experience. He’s not forcing things, he makes smart passes with a purpose, and he isn’t afraid of anything. Despite the fact that Beaubois has logged only 57 minutes thus far, it’s hard to be anything less than thrilled with his performance. We knew that he would eventually be a contributor, but Rodrigue appears more NBA-ready than anyone predicted.
And it’s a good thing he is. Beaubois’ excellence, combined with solid nights from Drew Gooden (11 points, 11 rebounds, one block) and Shawn Marion (11 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, two steals, and a block), helped the Mavs to survive more poor shooting from Dirk Nowitzki (25 points, 11-27 FG, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) and Jason Terry (9 points, 1-7 FG, 6-8 FT, three steals). Dirk and JET still managed to contribute to the game throughout, and they took over in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Between them, Nowitzki and Terry scored 14 out of the Mavs’ final 16 points by hitting big jumpers, getting to the free throw line, and benefiting from some smooth ball movement.
- Erick Dampier missed the game due to illness, and was rushed to the hospital. It’s unknown exactly what Damp’s symptoms were.
- Kris Humphries deserves mention for providing good minutes in the middle. You don’t want the ball going to Hump with the shot clock winding down, but you have to appreciate his hustle. Kris finished with just 5 points, 2 rebounds, and two blocks, but he played well.
- The Mavs may have caught a big break when Rodney Stuckey came up limping in the fourth quarter. He had been tearing it up all game long, and the Pistons could have used him late in the fourth with the game still in the balance.
- Weird night for +/- : all the Mavs’ starters were positive, but the reserves were negative. All the Pistons’ starters were negative, but the reserves were positive.
GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT: The Gold Star of the Night goes to, for the first time in his career, Rodrigue Beaubois. “Roddy” energizes the offense when he’s on the floor, and his ability to create with the ball in his hands and also thrive off the ball (three cheers for point-guard-to-point-guard alley oops!) should make Mavs fans salivate. Beaubois is the silver lining to Josh Howard’s injury, and he’s making a very compelling case for playing time after Josh’s return.