Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on September 29, 2010 under xOther | 5 Comments to Read

And a few older bullets from an edition of the Grapevine that accidentally went unpublished:

Rumor Mongering: The Butler Conundrum

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 8, 2010 under Commentary, Rumors | 4 Comments to Read

The three players most commonly linked to the Mavs are all wings: Kevin Martin, Andre Iguodala, and Caron Butler. The Mavs’ interest is said to flow in that order, meaning that acquiring Butler may very well be a back-up plan. It’s definitely an option, but hardly the option.

Which could be a problem. From Marc Stein in the Weekend Dime:

As my ESPN.com colleague Chad Ford wrote Thursday, Washington’s preference is moving Butler ahead of team statesman Antawn Jamison, who has been chased hard by Cleveland since last season and with particular vigor since the Cavs lost out to Charlotte in the trade race to acquire Stephen Jackson.

On the surface, a Jamison-to-Cleveland trade would seem somewhat irrelevant to the Mavs; a team in the opposite conference would get stronger by preying off of another team in the opposite conference, with none of the Mavs’ rumored targets directly compromised. But consider this: Cleveland is supposedly aggressively pursuing Antawn Jamison via trade, while the Mavs supposedly have something of a Josh Howard-Caron Butler swap on the back-burner. Though Washington may prefer to move Butler, they may not be in a position to move both Butler and Jamison. Trading away all of the talent opens up quite the can of worms, and the Wiz will have a rough go of it drawing season ticket holders and free agents alike if there are no ballers of note left in D.C. by summer.

If Jamison is indeed item 1-A on the Cavs’ agenda, it could put the Mavs in a tough spot: either Dallas strives for a possibly more attainable target in Butler (remember, Sacramento is still unwilling to move Kevin Martin and Andre Iguodala likely has Samuel Dalembert tied to his ankle as a salary anchor), or could miss out entirely if the Mavs’ other plans fall through and Cleveland scores Jamison. It’s a bit premature for the Mavs to jump on a deal for Butler, but there’s definite reason for the decision-makers in Dallas to have their ear to the ground for tremors out of Cleveland.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 1, 2009 under xOther | Read the First Comment

  • Jason Kidd on his progressions for that game-winning inbounds pass (via Eddie Sefko): “It’s going to be Dirk or Jet on that play…Jet was wide-open and we have a lot of confidence in him doing the right thing and he did…He was plan A, because I saw he was wide open. Dirk was plan B, C and D after that.”
  • The Oklahoman conducted a poll of active NBA players, asking them which of their peers has the highest basketball IQ. Kobe Bryant, somewhat predictably, received the most votes. But second? Jason Kidd. (via Skeets)
  • A flashback to one of the weirder occurrences I’ve seen on a basketball court: Mike Dunleavy Jr., in a game against the Mavs in 2005, comes within a millimeter of spontaneously combusting.
  • There’s still no disclosure on exactly what went wrong with Erick Dampier.
  • Jeff ‘Skin’ Wade cuts the Mavs a little slack: “Fans, players, especially coaches – nobody likes excuses. But the Mavericks find themselves in the odd position of defending their wins. If you lose a game and talk about the injuries you’re enduring, you get beat up for dropping a lame excuse. But are injuries a good excuse for not winning in a convincing fashion? Case in point – the Mavericks went into the fourth quarter against the 76ers up 78-72 but were already at an 11-board deficit with 12 minutes to go. So what does Carlisle decide to do for the majority of the fourth quarter? Roll with a three-guard lineup and fall back into a 2-3 zone against a big Philly lineup that amplified the mauling of the Mavs on the glass to the tune of 18-6 in the final frame. Is that the ideal scenario the Mavericks front office and coaching staff envisioned heading into the season? Of course not. But that dream scenario wasn’t available with Josh Howard and Quinton Ross in street clothes, Shawn Marion hobbled with a bum ankle that stiffens up on him, Tim Thomas several hours removed from a trip to the chiropractor and Erick Dampier available for limited minutes on his first night back after missing the past two weeks. So the Mavs went small – very small – and survived.”
  • Another look at Samuel Dalembert’s possible last-second slip-up.
  • This tweet from Brandon Jennings has been sitting, tabbed away in my browser for awhile now, waiting for a Grapevine as an excuse to share it: “the best PG i played against so far is Jkidd. like the dude is still good. dude just runs the team.”

Dallas Mavericks 104, Philadelphia 76ers 102

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under Recaps | 9 Comments to Read

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.

Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

Winning isn’t always finishing first. Sometimes winning is just finishing.
-Manuel Diotte

It’s easy to start with what went wrong against the Sixers, but one thing certainly went right: with the game on the line, the Mavs got the ball into the hands of a proven killer, put him in his comfort zone on the floor, and just watched as a relentless 76ers comeback was wiped away by a gentle splash of the net. Yet again, the Mavs were in a position to demoralize their opponents, the plucky, hard-working, but outclassed Philadelphia 76ers. And yet again, they capitalized.

The fact that Jason Terry was able to create his first clutch imprint of the season is icing on the cake. A shot like that (combined with JET’s clutch pedigree) establishes and diversifies the Mavs’ options in close games, which can only be a good thing.

Also: if you’re Willie Green, do you find solace in the fact that you blanked Jason Terry to the best of your ability and contested the shot well? Or do you find depression in the realization that it wasn’t good enough?

Based on the execution in the first half, it shouldn’t have ever come down to JET. The Mavs played a half of completely balanced basketball, holding the Sixers to 33% shooting while shooting 50% themselves, keeping pace in the rebounding battle, and maintaining the edge in the turnover margin. Provided they kept playing solid basketball, the Mavs had provided themselves enough of a cushion to coast to an easy victory.

Jason Kidd (22 points, 11 assists, six rebounds, four steals, three blocks, 5 for 8 from 3-point land) was reason #1 why everything was rosy at halftime. Kidd brought the heat early and often, connecting on three of his four 3-point attempts in the first en route to a 13-point, 4-assist first quarter. If leaving Kidd open on the perimeter was a strategic decision on the part of Eddie Jordan, it came back to haunt him. That quarter (and this game) was Kidd’s most prolific scoring display of the season, and the early momentum gained from his sudden outburst was a huge factor in determining how the first half would play out. As Philly adjusted to the threat of Kidd’s offense, the passing lanes opened up for the Mavs. Dallas registered 18 assists in the first half, compared to Philadelphia’s seven.

But Terry’s soul-draining shot may have been the only thing to go according to plan in the second half. Not only did the Sixers crank up their attack in the second half, but they toed a line between assertiveness and control. On offense, Philadelphia found a rhythm, but their moves were deliberate and controlled. Every offensive sequence didn’t unfold smoothly, but the Sixers, a relatively limited offensive team, never quite seemed out of sorts in the second half. I’m not sure if their gusto was due to a rousing locker room speech or if they simply picked up on the Mavs’ vulnerability, but their performance was pretty inspired.

Effort definitely played a role, and the Sixers exposed the Mavs on the boards. For the second game in a row, the Mavs struggled to rebound, and the 60-37 rebounding deficit was every bit as bad as it sounds. Dallas managed just 12 rebounds in the entire second half, which is an unacceptable number against any opponent, much less a poor rebounding team like the Sixers. Philadelphia ranks 24th in the league in rebound rate (“the percentage of missed shots that a team rebounds”), and yet the Sixer bigs dominated Dallas on the glass. Samuel Dalembert (19 rebounds), Thaddeus Young (7), Elton Brand (10), and Jason Smith (7) combined for 43 rebounds. Erick Dampier (1), Dirk Nowitzki (6), Drew Gooden (10), and James Singleton (1) combined for just 18. It’s tough to wrap your head around, and though Damp played limited minutes in his return, it doesn’t excuse the Mavs’ overall effort in terms of rebounding.

Last night’s game was conclusive evidence of the fact that when you outwork your opponent, good things are bound to happen. That is, unless you’re a results-oriented win-loss type of guy, in which the moral of the story is that regardless of how hard you work or how much you probably deserve to win, Jason Terry will stomp repeatedly on all of your hard work. Then he’ll go home and sleep like a baby.

Closing thoughts:

  • As mentioned above, Erick Dampier made his return to the lineup last night. His mysterious illness is still, well, a mystery. Although his box score production was rather empty (three points, just one rebound, and one turnover), I liked what I saw from the Maverick defense with Dampier on the floor. It’s not like the Sixers have Monta Ellis, but the rim is better protected with Dampier in the game. Period.
  • J.J. Barea had a hell of a game. His 11-point 6-assist night is no doubt dwarfed by Kidd’s performance, but the playmaking and outside shooting of Barea were crucial in balancing the Maverick attack. J.J.’s night turned the three guard lineup into a productive bunch once again, as the trio of Kidd-Barea-Terry were responsible for all but one bucket during a 14-3 run in the second quarter.
  • Shawn Marion was moving with an obvious limp by the end of the game. That didn’t stop him from playing good defense on Andre Iguodala, but it’s something to keep in mind. Marion put together an unremarkable (14 points, 5 rebounds) but efficient (6-10 FG) offensive night, but in a game where every bucket counts, his contributions were much appreciated.
  • Kris Humphries (DNP-CD), Tim Thomas (DNP-CD), Quinton Ross (back), and Josh Howard (ankle) didn’t play for the Mavs. Although the latter is a foregone conclusion at this point, it’s unclear why Hump and Tim didn’t play. James Singleton was the primary beneficiary of the shift in the rotation. Singleton has averaged 15.7 minutes per game over the last three contests, up from just 4.4 minutes in the 15 games prior.
  • Iguodala got a pretty decent look to tie/win the game after Terry’s dagger…but it might have been intercepted by Samuel Dalembert. Dalembert clearly thought the shot was short, but from every angle of the shot I’ve seen (a whopping one), it looks like Iggy’s jumper had at least a chance of falling. So pat on the back for the big fella, and I hope he got a rebound (or a steal?) for that grab.
  • I got through this entire recap without really giving Dirk Nowitzki (28 points, 11-26 FG, zero turnovers) his due for another big scoring night. Dirk’s excellence is just assumed at this point, which is a testament to exactly how good he’s been this season.

GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT: The Gold Star of the Night goes to, without question, Jason Kidd. Terry’s shot was huge, but Kidd’s outstanding first quarter deserves an accolade, even if it’s only a sticker. Efficient scoring and solid defense went hand-in-hand for Kidd in the first, and the results for Kidd and the Mavs were simply brilliant. Kidd’s night was beyond vintage; Jason combined his usual court vision and D with uncanny accuracy as a spot-up shooter. It was quite a night for the future Hall-of-Famer, even in the context of his long and illustrious career.