Thermodynamics (n.) – the science concerned with the relations between heat and mechanical energy
A day late (blame the tryptophan-induced coma), but never a dollar short. It’s time for our weekly breakdown of the Mavs’ three hottest and three coldest performances.
This was an interesting week for the Mavs. They were blown out by the Indiana Pacers, but then bounced back the next night in Cleveland against a bad (though young and spry) Cavaliers squad. After a fairly woeful home loss to the Golden State Warriors, the Mavs proceeded to take down the league-leading New York Knicks on the strength of a (mostly) impressive second-half comeback.
So who was hot? And who was not? I’m glad you asked….
Week 4 (@Pacers, @Cavaliers, Warriors, Knicks)
1) OJ Mayo
Make it three in a row on the hot list for Mayo. Once again, the Mavs’ starting shooting guard was excellent offensively. He shot 32-of-60 (53%) on the week, including 10-of-21 (48%) from long range. He led the Mavs in scoring all four games, dropping 19 points in each of the first two games and 27 points in each of the latter two. His assist numbers weren’t great (3.5 per game), but they didn’t need to be. With Dirk Nowitzki still on the mend, Mayo’s primary responsibility is to score. He’s doing just that, and he’s doing so quite efficiently. Mayo is currently 8th in the NBA in scoring (22.2 PPG), and among the top 10 scorers in the league, he has the lowest usage rate (25.3%) and the the highest effective field-goal percentage (61%). In other words, Mayo isn’t racking up points by dominating the ball. He’s being judicious, taking mostly good shots, and making them at a very impressive (though likely unsustainable) clip.
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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.
- These recaps are beginning to be a bit of a broken record. Offensive rebounds surrendered (19), turnovers (16) and poor shooting (32.5% in the first half) doomed Dallas. The offensive rebounding is starting to get particularly grating because we’re seeing Dallas players looking at one another as to who should have gotten a particular board. They don’t lapse all the time, but its frequent enough to change the game. The turnovers were also atrocious. During the first six minutes of the 4th quarter Dallas turned it over 5 times. This game wasn’t lost in over time, it was lost in inches every other minute of regulation.
- High praise for Stephen Curry (31 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals); he dominated the overtime from tip to close. Dallas’ inability to defend the opposing point guard position is troublesome and its challenging to determine if it is Darren Collison’s (7 points, 5 assists, 5 turnovers, 2-11 shooting) fault or if the issue lies in the Mavs inability as a team to defend the high pick and roll. In losses, Dallas is giving up 19-5-9 with 3 steals, and those numbers are bogged down by a mediocre game from Raymond Felton in the Knick’s loss. These numbers have to be concerning.
- O.J. Mayo (27 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) was spectacular during the fourth and overtime, scoring 16 points. Why Carlisle went to hero ball (without even a screen to free him) for Vince Carter (9 points, 5 assists) was really confusing. Up to this point, Mayo has been sub-par at best anywhere from inside the arc. Tonight he decided he was going to score in other ways and did so with ease. I’m sure going against an inexperienced and frustrated Klay Thompson (7 points, 2-14 shooting) played into it, but Mayo has the strength and ability to get to the rim more often than he has been. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.
- The Maverick offense was particularly horrid in the first half, posting a season low point total. The offense really benefited at the second from Elton Brand (5 points, 3 rebounds) hitting a high post shot as well as his passing from the middle of the floor. Chris Kaman (18 points, 17 rebounds, 9 free throws attempted) was huge in making sure the game stayed close. When he attacks the bucket instead of settling for poor fade away attempts, he puts so much pressure on the opposing defense.
Kirk is a member of the Two Man Game family. Follow him on twitter @KirkSeriousFace
- There aren’t a lot of positives to take from a loss like this, except for the fact that it’s probably not all that representative of anything. The reality: the Mavs are now the third team this season to lose all three games of a back-to-back-to-back. At 23-20, they’ve dropped eight of ten and would occupy the West’s final playoff spot if the season ended today. Fortunately, the season doesn’t end today. This brutal stretch of nine games in 12 nights is over and I’m closer to the Mark Cuban “these losses are meaningless” school of thought than the “Dallas is a disaster” stance that clean-shaven Sam Mitchell took on NBA TV Friday night. Brendan Haywood will be back soon, Delonte West after that, and we’ll look for incremental improvements over the next month or so.
- Oh, Jason Kidd will be back soon, too. He was a late scratch. No need to play the soon-to-be 39-year-old on three straight nights. This meant we were treated to a starting backcourt of Jason Terry and Dominique Jones, with Rodrigue Beaubois and Vince Carter theoretically adding scoring punch off the bench. For JET, it was his first start since last January. For Jones, it was the first of his career. Also, this was Terry’s 1000th career regular season game.
- For the second night in a row, Dallas looked old and slow and fell behind early to a non-playoff team. The Warriors scored the first six points of the game and Rick Carlisle took his first timeout with 6:31 left in the first, down 11-5. The Mavs’ legs were dragging from the opening tip, while the Warriors, who hadn’t played since Wednesday, were full of energy, even if it wasn’t always channeled correctly. The Mavs started the first quarter shooting 2-13 and finished it 6-22.
- That energy I talked about? Much of it came from Ekpe Udoh, who was running and jumping and contesting shots all over the place. Early in the first, he challenged a Dirk Nowitzki jumper, then blocked Ian Mahinmi’s follow attempt. He blocked a Nowitzki shot a few possessions later. He should become a Serge Ibaka-like league-wide fan favorite as soon as the Warriors are relevant.
- The first quarter wasn’t all one-sided and it wasn’t just the Mavericks being sloppy — both teams had six turnovers in the opening frame. After that timeout with 6:31 left, Rodrigue Beaubois and Lamar Odom checked in. Both immediately hit threes and tied the game at 11. But in the last 3:31, Golden State went on a 13-2 run. For the rest of the game, Dallas was playing catch-up.
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There are few things sports fans cling to as tightly as a good underdog story, and Jeremy Lin’s tour with the Mavs through Summer League as an undrafted free agent has endeared him to NBA fans and writers all across the internets. Here is just a sample of the responses to Lin’s decision to sign with the Golden State Warriors:
Jeremy Lin’s agent, Roger Montgomery, via the Dallas Morning News: “All the components fell in place, especially when you look at their roster. They’ve basically got three guys who are ahead of us. We can be nothing but appreciative because we wouldn’t be in this position if Donnie Nelson and the Mavericks didn’t give Jeremy Lin a chance…He may put on a Golden State jersey, but he definitely is very, very appreciative of the shot that Donnie and the Mavs gave him.”
Matt Moore, NBA FanHouse: “Lin makes sense for the Warriors, who traded C.J. Watson to the Bulls this weekend. Stephen Curry is obviously the star,and Monta Ellis will play the backup role, but Lin provides a good skill set for a third point guard and could flourish in Don Nelson’s system, unless, you know, Don Nelson Don-Nelson’s him. The fact that he’s Asian-American (Taiwanese American, to be specific), will likely make him a hit with the Bay’s fervent community. But beyond the cliche racial implications is the fact that he’s a local boy who made the most of himself, worked his tail off, and now has a big league contract. This is a better ending to the tale than playing toy soldier for the Lakers or working in the Mavericks‘ new D-League team, the Texas Legends.”
Scott Schroeder, Ridiculous Upside: “I don’t wish to offend anyone, but I have a feeling that Lin’s Asian-American background played a rather substantial role in what seems to have amounted to a bidding war between two teams with substantial Asian communities – the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State – as well as the Dallas Mavericks (who previously showed to have interest in signing and assigning Lin to their new NBA Development League team). I don’t mean to infer that Lin isn’t worth an NBA training camp invite (he most certainly is), but I do feel that his race had a prominent role in his getting a better contract than probably any other player without prior NBA experience this offseason.
I went back and watched every one of Lin’s offensive possessions – right around 85 by my count – and he’s a pretty solid player (might be better on defense with his size and instincts, honestly), but not one that I wouldn’t make earn his job in training camp by all but guaranteeing he’ll be on an NBA roster at least until all contracts become fully-guaranteed on January 5, 2011.
Regardless, if the public relations boom goes as expected (and it seems like the Golden State fans are in high spirits already), this might pay off in a Sun-Yue-with-the-Lakers sort of way. The problem in that, though, is that Lin is getting opportunities that could be afforded to other players without the amazing background story – and I’m not sure how I feel about that.”
Brian McCormick, Director of Coaching at the Playmakers Basketball Developmental League: “While basketball fans concentrate on the athleticism of John Wall or the psychology of DeMarcus Cousins, from a developmental perspective, Jeremy Lin is the most important rookie in the 2010 class…I am not interested in the economic impact of a successful Asian-American player. My focus is developmental. We spend too much time looking at race, and not enough time controlling things within our control – our effort, skill development, practice habits and more. Once one player breaks through the perceived barrier, it becomes easier for others to set higher standards for themselves.
From a developmental perspective, I am interested in eliminating excuses. I want players to create their own positive self-fulfilling prophecies rather than allow prevailing myths to create a perpetually negative self-fulfilling prophecy to limit one’s dreams, goals and effort. Jeremy Lin may never be an NBA all-star. However, his impact as a player may not be felt immediately; instead, his greatest impact may be felt a generation from now when young Asian-Americans no longer view college or professional basketball as an unattainable dream, but a worthwhile goal to pursue diligently.”
Kurt Helin, ProBasketballTalk: “Lin might well make the Warriors, however. Stephen Curry is going to get the lion’s share of minutes at the point, and Monta Ellis will get some, but the Warriors just traded away last season’s backup C.J. Watson. They need a backup point now, and Lin is going to get the chance to get the job.
Lin won over Summer League fans in Vegas because he plays a fearless game. Nobody attacked the rim as hard as him, as relentlessly. His game is not fully NBA ready — got to improve his jumper, he’s got to finish at a higher rate near the rim. But he has a great feel for the game, makes smart passes and is the kind of guy that will change the mood of a practice because he will not coast. Coaches love players who maximize their talents, and Lin is one of those guys.”
Eric Freeman, The Baseline: “This is a phenomenal story. Lin would be the first Asian-American athlete to play in the NBA and the first Harvard product in more than 50 years. In case you forget, Harvard doesn’t hand out scholarships, so Lin entered college with no publicity. He’s a real success story, someone who worked his way to the NBA when few believed he could do it.
Yet his story goes even deeper than that. At Palo Alto High School, Lin led his team to the 2006 state championship and defeated SoCal powerhouse Mater Dei (a team with no fewer than four high-level college prospects) virtually by himself. It was one of the biggest upsets in California basketball history and made Lin a Bay Area legend. Still, his exploits weren’t enough to get him a scholarship. Lin wanted to go to Stanford and was accepted to the school as part of the normal admissions process, but the coaching staff only offered him the opportunity to walk on. (Two guards awardedscholarships during the same recruiting cycle accomplished very little for the Cardinal.) So he went to Harvard, where he had the chance to play early and often. He proved that he belonged quite quickly.”
Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images.
Box Score — Play-By-Play — Shot Chart — GameFlow
“I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”
- Unreal. Did this possibility even cross your mind last June, when the Mavs drafted a semi-unknown French point guard? Roddy has come such a long way since draft night, and he still has miles to go before he sleeps. Rodrigue Beaubois is going to be a star in this league for a very long time, and this was a giant hop toward that stardom. It’s going to hinge on a ton of factors that are too tough to gauge right now, but his climb seems inevitable at this point. Rookie seasons can yield many mirages, but I don’t think you can explain away Beaubois’ talent, physical tools, and natural instincts. Roddy just looks at home with a basketball in his hands, and with his willingness to learn, talent, and physical tools, he seems like a can’t-miss prospect at this point. I know that’s easy to say after an incredible outburst against one of the worst defenses in the league, but it’s an observation that’s been nearly a season in the making.
- The already one-sided debate that’s been raging on over Rodrigue Beaubois’ playing time? It should be nonexistent after tonight. Beaubois went off for 40 points in an absolutely surreal display of shooting prowess, in which he shot 9-of-11 from three and scored just one of his 40 at the line. But here’s the thing: the debate won’t disappear. The fact that Beaubois’ big night came against the Warriors will mark it with an asterisk, and the idea that this is exactly the type of game Beaubois should excel in will somehow demean just how impressive of a game this was for Roddy. It’s not fair, honestly, but I have a bad feeling that the perceptive powers that be will try to negate what we saw on March 27th, 2010. Don’t let them. It was a hot night against a bad defensive team, but this was a thoroughly dominating performance.
- That said, the beauty that was this 40-pointer came with Beaubois at the two. This may be some incredible evidence for Roddy’s value as a player, but not really as a point guard. Or basically, we could be right back where we started, simply with confirmation of Beaubois’ value as a scorer.
- Other than that, what is there to say? It’s a bit refreshing to have the most dynamic, high-scoring guard on the Mavs’ side of the Dallas-Golden State match-up for once; Monta Ellis (14 points, four assists) and Steph Curry (17 points, seven rebounds, six assists, seven turnovers) each shot 6-for-16 from the field, and neither could stabilize the sloppy Warrior offense. The Mavs’ defense wasn’t all that impressive, though I do appreciate Rick Carlisle’s decision to cover Ellis with Shawn Marion to start the game.
- The Warriors just couldn’t shoot. Credit to the Mavs for forcing the Dubs into plenty of long two-pointers, but Golden State missed a ton of open looks from three and completely shut down offensively in the second quarter. The same second quarter that was home to 36 Maverick points, 21 of which were Rodrigue Beaubois’. A 20-2 run and a separate 10-0 run (all Beaubois) in the second pretty much sealed the game. If not for an uncharacteristically high turnover rate for those twelve minutes, it could very well have been the Mavs’ best offensive quarter of the season. I’m pretty sure it was Roddy’s best offensive quarter, regardless.
- The Mavs on the other hand, could. Dallas shot 48.4% from the field, and an incredibly impressive 53.3% from three (on 30 attempts!) thanks to Beaubois’ handiwork. Eddie Najera (nine points, nine rebounds, two steals, one block) was an unexpected contributor from the perimeter, where he hit three of his six three-point attempts. Najera saw plenty of court time due to a minor injury (middle finger jam) to Brendan Haywood and the Warriors’ unique style of play, and he played rather well.
- Shawn Marion (18 points, 9-12 FG, four rebounds, five steals) had another strong night, and even if the Mavs on the whole aren’t rounding into playoff shape, he certainly has been. He’s been so much more effective with his runners and mid-range game over the last few weeks, and that makes him a pretty effective half-court weapon. He still misses some of his looks at the rim and isn’t a huge threat off the dribble, but Shawn’s value in the offense has improved significantly in about a month’s time. Defensively, Marion was incredibly active in the passing lanes, and if the NBA tracked deflections his stat line would be that much more impressive. Shawn was everywhere, and he was a big reason why one of the more confident offenses in the league looked a bit tentative on Saturday.
- Dallas shot just ten free throws and collected just four offensive rebounds. It didn’t make a bit of difference. The Warriors’ shooting was so awful and the Mavs’ shooting so effective that half of the Four Factors were deemed irrelevant. The bottom line, and proof that there’s truth in simplicity: the team that shoots better wins almost every game. Dallas had nearly a 20-point edge in effective field goal percentage, which was more than enough to trump the Mavs’ weaknesses in other areas.
- Caron Butler finished with 15 and four, Dirk Nowitzki dropped a 13-10 double-double, and Jason Kidd tallied 11 assists, but this was Rodrigue’s show. The game was never in doubt after the Roddy Show in the second quarter, which mean plenty of rest for the Mavs’ big guns (only Marion played more than 30 minutes).
- Brendan Haywood played almost nine minutes, but Erick Dampier did not play at all. Most of the minutes at center went to Najera, with Nowitzki playing back-up.
- The Mavs had some serious problems finishing at the rim, despite of the number of uncontested run-outs the Warriors’ defense gifted them. Scoff and shake your head at the Mavs who blew layups (Dirk blew an easy one, Marion airballed a finger roll, and even Roddy couldn’t convert on a fairly rudimentary look), but don’t forget to credit Ronny Turiaf, who only finished with two blocks but was one of the few Warriors interested in playing some real defense.
- A mixed bag for J.J. Barea, who finished with five points and five assists in 20 minutes, but also turned the ball over four times. Point guards should be allowed to make mistakes, but high-turnover games like this one don’t really indicate high value as a PG. We know J.J. is better than this, even if our love affair with Roddy makes it tough to admit. Barea is a pretty decent point guard, and for some reason his hands were a bit slippery against Golden State.
- Anthony Tolliver had 21 rebounds, including eight on the offensive end. Shame on every GM who thought this guy couldn’t be an NBA player, or who looked to use a roster spot on a name rather than a player. His fellow former D-Leaguers, Reggie Williams and Chris Hunter, weren’t as impressive. But those guys are NBA players, and for everything that has gone wrong with the Warriors this year, their ability to scout D-League and their willingness to sign that talent is pretty much unparalleled.
- Two points for Matt Carroll! He had 20% of the Mavs’ free throw attempts, and boy can that guy make his free throws.
Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images.
Box Score — Play-By-Play — Shot Chart — GameFlow
“We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret of disappointment.”
Somehow it’s only fitting that when the Mavs are on the cusp of elite status, some familiar demons push them down a peg. I couldn’t care less that they were wearing Warriors uniforms, but yet again, quick point guards had their way with the Dallas defense time and time again, and the results were downright depressing.
Nothing in this game quite turned out as it should. That much should have been certain from the opening tip, when the probable turned questionable turned out Shawn Marion found his way to the bench in a suit. That much should have been certain when the normally careful, deliberate Mavs offense was turning the ball over just for fun. That much should have been certain when the impressive Mavs defense suddenly collapsed on itself rather than on penetration, and when I was begging for Dallas to pick up someone, anyone, in transition. What should have been an easy win over an undermanned team turned out an ugly loss to just six players, and if that didn’t keep each and every Maverick up last night with nightmares of Monta Ellis layups, then we have a problem.
The first half was just sloppy basketball on both ends, which you can live with provided the Mavs show some second half intensity. But despite having a deeper roster and more talented personnel, Dallas very much looked the part of the inferior team for the latter half of the game. The offense was completely out of sorts by the time the fourth quarter rolled around, with the Warriors’ maniacal defensive strategy disrupting the Mavs’ flow plenty. It wasn’t as if Radmanovic was playing stellar defense on Dirk, or that the Warrior guards were locking down Terry; Golden State’s team defense (I know, it surprises me to type this as much as it surprises you to read it) just forced turnovers with help, double teams, and some sleight of hand (creating the illusion of a passing lane when there, in fact, was none).
The numbers don’t properly reflect just how out of sorts Dallas was when it mattered most, but Jason Terry’s infuriating turnover with the Mavs down four and just under a minute to play (video forthcoming) epitomized the night spectacularly. JET and Dirk, two machines created for the sole purposes of putting a ball in a hoop with no unexpected hiccups, combined for nine turnovers. Nine. As in, the titular Plan from Outer Space. The thing seven ate. Just to put things in perspective, before last night, Nowitzki and Terry combined to average just 3.2 turnovers per game.
The defense, as I mentioned before, was an abomination and hopefully an aberration. Though the Warriors themselves had plenty of turnovers, they more than made up for them with frequent and effective drives to the basket as well as the sweet outside shooting of Anthony Morrow (6-8 3FG) and Stephen Curry (2-4 3FG). Morrow simply had one of those games where you’re shocked to see any misses at all in the box score, as his confidence level and on-court positioning were pitch perfect. All the while, Monta Ellis had his way with just about every Maverick defender, in particular exploiting J.J. Barea on the left side of the zone defense. The only Mavs player that showed any effectiveness in guarding Ellis was rookie Rodrigue Beaubois, who managed to slow Ellis on a few drives while the Mavs were in man-to-man sets. Otherwise, the perimeter defense was a turnstyle, the rotation D nonexistent, and the interior D simply a means to the end of an Ellis three point play.
This loss isn’t the end of the world, but it should sting like hell. And it’s a shame, too. Dirk Nowitzki had an excellent night scoring the ball (28 points on 9-18 shooting), despite only getting a few touches during the game’s crucial closing stretch (Dirk had just three shot attempts in the fourth, none over the final 4:28). Jason Kidd (13 assists, 10 rebounds) had a spectacular night offensively, even if he had trouble with the quickness of the Warriors defensively. And Drew Gooden (14 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks) again filled in well for the ill Erick Dampier, providing the low post scoring the Mavs have always lacked against Golden State. But it was all for naught, and worse, the momentum the Mavs had been building over the last five games has essentially been shattered.
- File this game away as Exhibit A for why Rodrigue Beaubois should be eating into J.J. Barea’s minutes. Though Barea’s +/- on the night isn’t bad at all, he was clearly the weakest point of the Mavs’ D last night, and as such, the entry point for a lot of Golden State’s drives.
- I’m a bit surprised we didn’t see more James Singleton, especially considering Quinton Ross missed the entire second half with back issues. The Mavs missed Ross’ D (and Marion’s, and Howard’s, for that matter), and probably could have used Singleton’s energy at either forward spot to ditch the woefully ineffective three guard lineup.
- Tim Thomas is playing pretty well. I haven’t seen anything to worry about in terms of his shot selection or defensive intensity, though his mobility is pretty clearly limited by that knee injury. He looks rusty, but he’s still converting from the post and got his first look at a made three last night. Once the real, healthy rotation falls into place, I definitely see a few minutes for Thomas.
GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT: The Gold Star of the Night Goes to…I won’t even bother.