Thermodynamics: The 2012-2013 Season

Posted by Travis Wimberly on April 21, 2013 under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Black hole

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

And with that, the 2012-2013 Dallas Mavericks will ride off into the sunset.

Sixteen NBA teams will play on, but the Mavs’ season is over. It wasn’t exactly a ceremonious ending, but it could have been worse. The Mavs closed out the year exactly at .500 (41-41), tallying their final win ever against the New Orleans Hornets Pelicans.  In the process, they became the first Western Conference team in over three decades to finish at .500 or better after being 10-plus games below that mark at any point during the season. That says something (although I’m not sure exactly what).

In honor of the season’s end and the final 2012-2013 installment of Thermodynamics, this week’s column will be a little different. Instead of the usual “weekly recap” approach, this one will address the three hottest and coldest performances for the entire season. For each item on the list, I’ll include one of the first things I wrote about that player from early in the year, and we can see how those initial impressions line up with the player’s season-long outlook.

Off we go…

FIRE

1) Brandan Wright

“Last season [2011-2012], Brandan Wright was a very serviceable rotation-caliber big man. This year, he will move well above that status, if the first two games are any indication.” – Thermodynamics: Week 1 (Nov. 1, 2012)

Those first two games were an indication, indeed.

Like countless Mavs observers, I spent the early part of this season perplexed by Rick Carlisle’s handling of Wright. Even accounting for Wright’s weaknesses, there was never any real justification for him to ride the pine for long stretches in favor of 2012 Troy Murphy. Yet as the year went on, Carlisle grew more and more comfortable with Wright. The 25-year-old big man began to rebound and defend better (although he still has significant room for improvement), all while the Mavs’ mounting playoff desperation necessitated Carlisle’s compromise.

As many of us suspected, Wright turned to be one of the Mavs’ most efficient and productive players, effectively showcasing his potential as a long-term piece for the Mavs. He also drove up his free-agent asking price in the process, but Dallas has cap room aplenty, which if nothing else will give Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson room to mull over a competitive offer. I consider him a top priority for this offseason. It would be foolish to let him walk unless another team wants to drastically overpay him (which isn’t completely outside the realm of possibility). Wright is already a highly efficient offensive player, and he has plenty of upside to boot. It’s hard to ask for more.

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The Agony of Average

Posted by David Hopkins on April 19, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

average_hopkins

“…On my word, we’ll trouble you no more.” – Galactus, Devourer of Worlds

In March, I spoke with ESPN Central Texas 1660 AM about the Dallas Mavericks. During that segment, I said something to the effect that the Mavs are “a 500 team, but 500 won’t be good enough to get into the playoffs in the Western Conference.” Nailed it. They were .500 exactly with 41 wins and 41 losses. It’s the first time in franchise history that they’ve had a .500 win/loss percentage for a season. But what does 500 mean?

If we were to add up all the games this season as if it were one single game, the Mavericks were outscored by opponents 8,342 to 8,293. I don’t know if this number is all that significant, except to indicate that, on average, the Mavs losses had a greater point differential than their wins. Sure, the Mavs had some close games. But from this season, those blowouts are going to be what I remember most. When a game got out of control, the Mavs just couldn’t put on the brakes, couldn’t stop the bleeding. Use whatever metaphor you want.

Ever since the western dominance of the NBA, around the time when Michael Jordan retired, Shaquille O’Neal moved to Los Angeles, and the Spurs drafted Tim Duncan, the question has persisted: is a Western Conference record worth more than an Eastern Conference record? When the Mavs play powerful Western Conference teams more often than lowly Eastern Conference teams, doesn’t that count for something? Keep in mind, five Western teams have 50 plus regular season wins. In the East, there are only two. At 500, the Mavs would’ve made the playoffs in the East—pushing out Milwaukee. Of course, this is price the Mavs pay for being in a better, more competitive conference.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 99, New Orleans Hornets 87

Posted by Connor Huchton on April 17, 2013 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Clouds

Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot ChartGame 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 2012-2013 Dallas Mavericks’ season ended as it began about six months ago, with a victory.
  • Darren Collison (10-15 FG, 25 points, four assists) led the charge and scored at will over the course of 28 minutes, deftly darting into the lane and finishing at the rim in textbook Collison-y fashion.
  • And yes, he deserves his own adjective.
  • His 10 fourth-quarter points helped silence any chance of a fledgling Hornets’ comeback.
  • When it comes to Collison’s future and the Mavericks, possibilities remain difficult to quantify. When Collison plays like this, on the odd one of three games when his mid-range jumper is working and everything else follows, he fulfills the role of starting point guard without question.
  • But the other type of Collison performance, the one that includes wayward perimeter defense and a frequent disappearing act, makes it difficult to believe in such an idea. Perhaps Collison would function best in a sixth-man, heavy-minutes backup PG role, one in which he could score at will and not be tasked with running an offense for 30+ minutes a night.
  • It’s up to Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson (as well as Rick Carlisle) to decide if they think bringing Collison back next season in such a role would be a wise course of action. But unless free agency fails the Mavericks for a third consecutive offseason, it’s unlikely Collison will return as the 2013-14 Mavericks as the team’s starting point guard.
  • Shawn Marion (7-12 FG, 15 points, seven rebounds) and Dirk Nowitzki (7-15 FG, 16 points, nine rebounds, four assists) carried the team the rest of the way, as they have done for what now seems like an eon.
  • Marion’s flip shots were in full splendor, and Dirk embraced his old Dirk persona by simply making standstill mid-range jumper after standstill mid-range jumper. Neither of them were at their individual best, but they both played well enough to defeat a young and injured Hornets’ team.
  • “It begins with defense.” Those were my first words after a Mavericks’ victory against the Lakers on opening night, and the same is true 81 games and a lost season later. Disregarding Chris Kaman’s (3-5 FG, six points, five rebounds) slight struggles with Robin Lopez (6-11 FG, 14 points, 13 rebounds), the Mavericks played quite well defensively, especially within the interior, limiting the Hornets to 36.9% shooting from the field.
  • It’s rare that a team out-rebounds another team by a margin of 21 (58-37) and still loses handily, but the Hornets managed it tonight. This was partly due to the Hornets’ 19 turnovers, and partly due to the Mavericks’ typically strong mid-range and three-point shooting.
  • With this final bullet point of the campaign, I’d like to say goodbye for the year and thank everyone here at The Two Man Game for a great season, irrespective of win-loss record and turmoil. Thanks to Rob Mahoney, thanks to Bryan Gutierrez, thanks to my fellow recapper Kirk Henderson, thanks to the rest of the staff, and most of all, thanks to all of our readers. The 2012-2013 season was not one of emotional triumphs and stunning success, but it was one of unwavering resiliency and ever-present hope. For that, I am grateful.

Quoteboard: Dallas Mavericks 99, New Orleans Hornets 87

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on under Interviews | Read the First Comment

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The Dallas Mavericks were able to finish the season without a losing record as they secured a 99-87 win over the New Orleans Hornets in the season finale. Playing against the team that drafted him, Darren Collison went 10-for-15 from the field and tallied a game-high 25 points to go along with four assists, two steals and a block in 28 minutes off the bench against the Hornets. Collison left a positive last impression for the team as it was his second-highest scoring game of the season (32 at Oklahoma City Dec. 27). He scored 20-plus points for the seventh time this season and the first since Mar. 18 at Atlanta (24 points).

Dirk Nowitzki totaled 16 points, a team-high nine rebounds and four assists in 28 minutes against the Hornets. Nowitzki averaged 20.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists in his final five games of the 2012-13 season.

Some notes before the quotes:

- Vince Carter’s triple at the 9:29 mark of the second quarter was his 162nd 3-pointer of the season (he shot 162-399, .406, on the year). His 162 treys tied his career-high for most 3-pointers made in a season (he shot 162-397, .408, with Toronto in 2000-01). The 162 triples were also tied for the fifth-most treys made by a Maverick in any season (Jason Terry made 162 with Dallas in 2006-07). Carter made at least one 3-point basket in each of his final 25 games of the 2012-13 season. It marked his longest career streak (over a single season) with at least one trey (previous high: 16 straight games on two occasions).

- The Mavericks outshot the Hornets 51.2 percent (42-of-82) to 36.9 percent (31-of-84) on the night. They finished the 2012-13 season with a record of 21-3 when they shot at least 50 percent from the floor.

- Al-Farouq Aminu (16 points and a career-high 20 rebounds) and Robin Lopez (14 points and 13 boards) both recorded double-doubles for New Orleans. Aminu recorded a first-half double-double with 10 points and a career-high 17 rebounds (previous high: 16 rebounds on three occasions). Aminu grabbed 14 boards in the first quarter alone.

- Dallas has now sold out 472 consecutive regular-season games at American Airlines Center, which is an NBA-best sellout streak. The streak began on Dec. 15, 2001 and Dallas has sold out an additional 60 playoff games during that stretch.

Here is the quoteboard for Dallas’ victory over New Orleans in the season finale.

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Quoteboard: Dallas Mavericks 108, Denver Nuggets 105 (Overtime)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on April 13, 2013 under Interviews | Be the First to Comment

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The Dallas Mavericks played for pride and found a way to squeak out a 108-105 overtime victory over the playoff-bound Denver Nuggets. Dallas used a 19-2 run (from the 8:22 mark of the third quarter through the 3:53 mark of the period) to turn an 11-point deficit (61-50) into a six-point advantage (69-63) en route to their victory. Dirk Nowitzki recorded his sixth double-double of the season (375th career) with a game-high-tying 22 points to go along with 10 rebounds and four assists in 40 minutes against Denver. He scored 20-plus points for the second straight game (18th time this season).

Another veteran helped lead the charge for the Mavericks as Vince Carter posted his first double-double of the season (89th career) with a game-high-tying 22 points  to go along with a season-high 12 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks in 34 minutes against Denver (previous high: nine rebounds on three occasions).

O.J. Mayo went 5-of-7 from beyond the arc and scored 20 points to go along with three rebounds, six assists, two steals and one block in 42 minutes. Shawn Marion totaled 15 points to go along with eight rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block in 30 minutes against the Nuggets. Marion is averaging 20.5 points and 9.0 rebounds over his last four games.

Some notes before the quotes:

- Dirk Nowitzki now has 24,990 career points and needs 10 points for 25,000. He will become the 17th player in NBA history with at least 25,000 points.

- Vince Carter had his first double-double since Apr. 16, 2012 at Utah (18 points and 12 rebounds). It also marked just the second time in his career that he totaled at least 22 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks in the same game (46 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists and 3 blocks in 47 minutes vs. Washington Apr. 7, 2007. With the win, the Mavericks improved to 9-2 this season when Carter scores 20-plus points, and 12-3 when he scores 20-plus points over the last two seasons. He also tied his career high with eight offensive rebounds. He pulled down eight offensive boards as a member of the New Jersey Nets against the Chicago Bulls on Nov. 5, 2005.

- With the win, the Mavericks improved to 6-1 this season when O.J. Mayo makes at least five triples in a game. He recorded his 22nd 20-point game of the season (15-7 record), but his first since Mar. 8 at Detroit (22 points).

- With the victory, the Mavericks snapped the Nuggets’ five-game winning streak.

- The Mavericks played their 11th overtime game of the season against the Nuggets on Friday. Prior to the 2012-13 campaign, the franchise record for the most overtime games in a season was eight (in 1995-96, 1997-98 and 2009-10).

Here is the quoteboard for Dallas’ prideful win over Denver.

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Thermodynamics: Week 24

Posted by Travis Wimberly on April 11, 2013 under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment

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

The Mavs have been officially eliminated from playoff contention, but they say they won’t quit on the season. In that case, neither will we. We’ve got about one more week before most of our regular columns here at The Two Man Game go into offseason hiatus, so let’s make it count.

Week 24 (@Nuggets, @Kings, @Blazers, Suns)

FIRE

1) The Matrix

The 2012-13 Mavs have a handful of younger players whose grit and tenacity are sometimes easy to question. Meanwhile, they have a few older players for whom those traits are indisputable and unwavering. Shawn Marion is one of those guys in the latter category, and this week was the quintessential example. With the Mavs’ playoff hopes dwindling further and further, the Matrix rose to the occasion. After a respectable 10-point night in Denver, he produced 25 points against Sacramento, 20 against Portland, and 22 against Phoenix. It was the first time since 2007 that Marion has scored 20-plus points in three consecutive games. Not only that, he scored very efficiently — 34-of-58 (59%) shooting on the week — and contributed 8.5 rebounds per game to boot. I’m not going to say the Mavs have quitters on their roster, because I don’t think that’s true. But I will say this: Shawn Marion is the polar opposite of a quitter.

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Quoteboard: Phoenix Suns 102, Dallas Mavericks 91

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on 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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Unpredictable

Posted by Brian Rubaie on April 10, 2013 under Commentary, Roster Moves | Read the First Comment

Unpredictable

Encapsulating a team’s essence in one word is difficult, particularly when that team is the 2012-2013 Dallas Mavericks and one isn’t supposed to curse. Those conditions standing, however, the word which best describes both the current and future outlook of these Dallas Mavericks is “unpredictable.” The instability which characterized the Mavs this season will become the new normal as Dallas prepares to enter another hyperactive off-season.

As the primary topics of discussion shift away from the playoffs and beards, talk of free agency will ramp up. A rush of predictions, rumors and opinion pieces will attempt to assign a method to the ongoing Mavericks madness. It is a void into which I will willingly plunge as an analyst, but I wish to first beg your forgiveness. The task of predicting Dallas’ moves this offseason, or offering reasonable advice to its ownership, is a tall task, and potentially a fool’s errand. Anyone searching for a definitive answer would be wise to remember that little in this Mavericks era can be anticipated; most everything has yet to be determined.

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The Rundown, Volume XIX

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on April 8, 2013 under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment

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The Rundown is back. Every Monday (unless there’s a better feature to run with), The Rundown will chronicle the week that was for the Mavs, as well as let you know what is coming up for the boys in blue, with a unique spin. Simply put, it is your Monday catch-up on all things with the Dallas Mavericks.

As the season is starting to wind down, the odds look incredibly bleak for the Mavs and extending their playoff streak to 13 years. With five games left, they still trail the Utah Jazz by 2.5 games. Utah owns the tiebreaker over both Los Angeles and Dallas, so it’s essentially a three-game lead Utah owns over Dallas. The dark number for Utah is 2 and 3 for Los Angeles. That means Dallas needs to avoid any combination of actual losses and Utah wins equaling out to two to stay alive and three for Los Angeles. It’s going to take a miraculous run, and some luck, for Dallas to sneak into the playoffs. With a win against Portland, Dallas will have the chance to accomplish something they’ve set out to do since late January – shave their .500 beards.

Let’s take a look at the week for that was for Dallas.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 117, Sacramento Kings 108

Posted by Connor Huchton on April 6, 2013 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

Clouds

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame 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.

  • I appreciate a good Shawn Marion (10-17 FG, 25 points, 12 rebounds) game, always. This was one of those.
  • The most relevant remaining Mavericks-related question is whether the team will finish the season bearded or beardless. Against a Sacramento Kings they should always beat when healthy, the Mavericks performed well enough to move towards that seemingly unreachable goal of .500.
  • A decent performance against a rarely impressive Kings’ interior (or perimeter, for that matter) defense serves as a small comfort against the grim reality of the imminent draft lottery.
  • This Mavericks’ win did not come about in the typical fashion – by perimeter excellence or an overwhelming Dirk Nowitzki (6-14 FG, 16 points, six rebounds) exultation.
  • Instead, Dallas achieved the rare award of dominating the lane, generally through the excellence of a cutting Marion or a waiting Brandan Wright (9-14 FG, 20 points, six rebounds).
  • Given what I’ve written in the past, I assume it’s quite clear that I enjoy Wright’s game. I think he will be one of the players the Mavericks may miss most if he leaves in the offseason, especially as Wright grows into himself as a player and post presence.
  • His athleticism conjoins with a growing skill near the basket more and more all the time, and when that combination reaches his peak, I expect he’ll already have established himself as a reliable starting center in this league.
  • Darren Collison (7 -10 FG, 18 points, 8 assists) also played with the fresh continuity and weaving motion that defines his better games, a feat made easier against the lax Kings’ defense but a feat still impressive nonetheless.
  • When Collison darts with this alacrity, he personifies the sudden fun and spontaneity of the point guard position, and makes one wonder what could have been if that relaxed personification had appeared with more frequency over the course of a long season.