You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
Mark Cuban may love Vince Carter (9-19 FG, 22 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists) more than I do, but I too admire the aging guard’s resolve. Carter had regressed a bit over the last month or so, but tonight reminded me why I was so enamored with his vitalized play in late-February and early-March. His performance was one of immense substance and resolve for a team no longer fighting for the playoffs, no longer fighting for much of anything other than a .500+ record and a lower lottery pick. Thank you for a season of stalwart professionalism, Vince Carter, and I hope to say the same as next season ends.
When Corey Brewer (6-20 FG, 18 points, five steals) scored off a steal as regulation dwindled to a close, I did not expect the Mavericks to rise up and control the overtime period. But so they did, mostly thanks to O.J. Mayo (7-13 FG, 5-7 3PT, 20 points, six assists, two turnovers), who made a late bid for changing Mavericks’ fans perceptions with a commendable scoring performance. Mayo’s ability to find rhythm and function as a key offensive weapon in the Carlisle offense seems largely dependent on his ability to limit turnovers. With an offseason and another season in Carlisle’s system, it’s a problem Mayo may be able to address and quell to some extent. There’s no guarantee of that essential improvement, but Mayo is still only 25 years old.
Though he tired a bit down the stretch, Dirk Nowitzki (9-17 FG, 22 points, 10 rebounds, four assists) provided a very resilient and potent 40 minutes tonight. He’s not the Dirk of old – he’s the old Dirk – but he’s still capable of charging an offense and bringing rebounds down with the most tenacious of elbows. Time has been the Mavericks’ bane for the last two years, and while it may be presumptuous of me, I’d like to ask time to freeze until next season, and allow this basketball Dirk to begin and end the 2013-2014 campaign in the same impressive form of recent months.
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.
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.
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.
Several weeks ago I put together a post highlighting the incredible amount of turnover on the Mavericks’ roster and rotation this season, and looking specifically at the effectiveness of different player pairs. At that point, 19 different players had dressed in a Mavericks uniform during the 2012-2013 season, not including Delonte West who was released just before the regular season started. That number has now climbed to 21, despite the team’s slow march towards 0.500 and a potential playoff berth. The larger pieces of the rotation finally seemed to have fallen into place, which means Rick Carlisle can return to tinkering around the edges. Plenty of elements have been difficult to watch this season, but among the most challenging for me has been the trial-and-error…and error method Carlisle has needed to piece together the limited specialists on this roster into a consistently reliable attack. We’ve never seen so much of the error portion of his process in years past, and Carlisle’s previously masterful performance in managing rotations have raised expectations to obscene levels. As Dirk Nowitzki has returned to form and all the new parts have become more secure in understanding how they fit around him, the tumult has eased. It’s an incredible relief to feel that identifying useful player combinations is no longer such a daily battle.
Obviously, I’m still hung up on these player combinations, so I decided to take another look, again using a Tableau Visualization. The chart below shows each different player combination the Mavericks have used this season graphed by their minutes played. I divided the season into six-game segments so each mark displays the numbers for just the previous six games. The color of each line represents the effectiveness of the unit, as expressed by Net Rating; red is good, green is bad. You can use the search filter at the bottom to focus in on any pairing that strikes your fancy.
The overall graph, displaying every combination is an overwhelming amount of information. But in looking at the hornet’s nest as a whole, a few things should pop out. The first is how inconsistent the use of different pairings has been. Injuries have shuffled the cards at different points during the season, but the jagged peaks and valleys adorning most of those lines emphasize what a shifting surface the Mavericks’ rotation has been. The second point is how inconsistent performance has been. Six games is not a huge sample slice by which to be measuring these groups, but most of the pairs, especially those at the top, have been rocketing back and forth between terrific and terrible.
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.
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 coalescence of poor fortune dawns swiftly and without warning in the world of regression to the mean and jumper reliance, and the Mavericks faced down that unfortunate coalescence in unending quantity on Thursday night.
Offensive success never neared commonality over the course of a close, slow-paced second half, but things swiftly took an awful turn for the irritating in the third quarter, when the offense of Dallas achieved impressive stagnancy.
The acceptable, if not well taken, looks which led the Mavericks to a 41-point first half dissipated instantly in the first few minutes of the third quarter as the Pacers paced out to a double-digit lead.
Why and how are the question words which spring to mind, and part of the answer lies in a second-half opening lineup which just didn’t work against a stalwart Indiana defense.
That lineup included Chris Kaman (0-1 FG, four minutes, -11) and Mike James (0-4 FG, four assists, 20 minutes, -22), each of whom appeared equal parts listless in their respective outings.
Kaman, appearing in the game for the first time, couldn’t defend Hibbert and couldn’t find an inkling of offensive rhythm.
James, who played less than usual in the first half, struggled to find space in the swiftly shifting Indiana defense and rarely escaped the perimeter.
The lineup struggled along with them and failed to find Dirk Nowitzki (10-20 FG, 21 points, seven rebounds) early in possessions, and soon the Pacers were on their way to a 17-point lead and firm dominance.
It’s a worth noting how poorly the Mavericks’ style matches that of the strongly defensive Pacers.
The Pacers simply have to much capability in the realm of size and post presence for the Mavericks to outwit.
The Mavericks have no answer for the Roy Hibberts (5-10 FG, 16 points, 11 rebounds) and even the Tyler Hansbroughs of the basketball world – those who are weighty rebounders and energetic post defenders.
Dallas relied on mid-range jumpers to save their hopes because of the Pacers’ prevalent defensive size, and failed for the most part in that region.
And on the other end, Paul George (10-17 FG, 24 points, eight rebounds, six assists) scored at will.
In this I felt the Mavericks were less at fault. George is a great, versatile player, and he made many thoroughly tough looks.
The Mavericks may have been better served to place Shawn Marion (4-7 FG, eight points, four rebounds) on George instead of Vince Carter (5-13 FG, 14 points) and company, but tonight felt like a night when there was little the Mavericks could have done to hinder George, no matter who acted as his defensive foil.
No Maverick made more than half their field goals, and Dirk’s 10 of 20 makes was the only output in that realm.
Ian Mahinmi (4-8 FG, nine points, seven rebounds) played fairly well in his return to Dallas.
His return offered a reminder that his presence would be very welcome on a team that lacks for size and reliable defensive centers.
The Mavericks did a pretty poor job of finding ways to get three-point shooters open throughout Thursday’s game.
Dallas made four of 14 three-point attempts, and few of those attempts could or should be classified as ‘clean looks’ .
When Anthony Morrow (2-4 FG, 0-1 3PT, four points, 11 minutes) entered the game, I had some hope that he’d be use to run off screens and take threes, the skill that’s defined his entire career.
Instead, the offense continued its jumbled ways and Morrow looked lost within the team’s movement.
The Mavericks’ playoff chances decreased considerably with this loss, but with the aid of the Bucks’ victory against the Lakers, some hope remains.
It seems somewhat trite to describe Saturday’s game against the Bulls as a ‘must-win’, as such a description will be used for pretty much every remaining Dallas’ game, but with the Jazz holding the tiebreaker between the two teams, every game lost counts considerably.
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)
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).
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.
With a 113, 108 victory over the Utah Jazz, the Dallas Mavericks moved to two games below .500 for the first time since Dec. 20. The victory now has Dallas is now tied with Utah for 9th in the west, two games back of LA for the 8th spot in the West with 12 games to go. Mike James tallied a season-high (game-high) 19 points to go along with three rebounds and a team-high-tying five assists in 32 minutes against the Jazz on Sunday (previous high: 14 points vs. Oklahoma City Mar. 17). It was his highest scoring game since Feb. 20, 2009 at New Jersey (19 points), as a member of the Washington Wizards. He scored in double figures for the seventh time in his last 12 games (ninth time this season). James is averaging 12.2 points and 5.0 assists over his last five games. By going 3-of-4 from 3-point range, James has shot 54.2 percent (13-of-24) from deep over his last five contests. He has made at least one 3-pointer in each of his last 13 games and is shooting 48.3 percent (29-of-60) from beyond the arc in that span.
Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 11 points and five rebounds in the opening half. He finished with 17 points and six rebounds on the night. He did all of his damage in just over 26 minutes of action. He rested the entire fourth quarter.
Some notes before the quotes:
- The Mavericks had seven players in double figures in the victory over the Jazz on Sunday: Mike James (19), Dirk Nowitzki (17), Shawn Marion (15), Vince Carter (15), Darren Collison (13), O.J. Mayo (10) and Elton Brand (10). It marked the fourth time this season that Dallas had seven players in double digits (also Dec. 12 at Boston, Jan. 20 at Orlando and Mar. 8 at Detroit). The Mavericks did not have one game with seven players in double digits all of last season.
- After a scheduled game off, Elton Brand went a perfect 5-for-5 from the field and managed 10 points, five rebounds and two blocks in 18 minutes. He scored all 10 of his points in the first half. Brand’s second block at the 4:32 mark of the fourth quarter was the 1,700th block of his career. He became the 24th player in NBA history with at least 1,700 rejections.
- Dallas shot 54.3 percent (38-of-70) from the field in the win over the Jazz on Sunday. The Mavericks improved to 17-3 this season when they shoot at least 50 percent from the floor.
Here is the quoteboard for Dallas’ much-needed victory over Utah.