Mavericks hang on, hand Knicks their second loss, 114-111

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

It was wild, it was crazy and sometimes maddening, but the Mavericks knocked off the league's hottest team on Wednesday night behind some great shooting from Vince Carter, O.J. Mayo and Jae Crowder.

When the Knicks and Mavs broke from their respective huddles with 24 seconds left and Dallas up 112-111, I almost spit out my drink, if I had any. The Mavericks lineup featured no center. None. It featured Vince Carter matched up with Tyson Chandler. Chandler, who had been absolutely wrecking the Mavs in the paint in the fourth quarter.

Instead, Carmelo Anthony rose up for a contested mid-range jumper. No good, Mavs make their free throws and win. A tremendous win against the hottest team in the NBA.

It started with a weird first half. The Mavericks weren't doing much defensively, weren't getting to the line and relying on jumpers. Yet they were only down five at half because of O.J. Mayo and some solid rebounding.

The Mavericks bench exploded in the third quarter and the start of the fourth, with the Mavs pushing a 10-12 point lead behind Vince Carter and JAAAEE CROOOOOW-DAAH. The Knicks ball movement stalled and the Mavs pushed with every opportunity, finally securing some rebounds.

Dallas fouled approximately 456 times in the fourth quarter, including about 238 and-1s to Tyson Chandler. Somehow Dallas held on with some clutch shooting and shaky playmaking from New York. A spectacular win that should quiet some of the negative comments that have crept up in the last few days. Onto the bullets:
  • I tweeted earlier in the night that no matter what, people will continue to hate Vince Carter because of his past. But the man has been so damn engaged since becoming a Maverick. It hasn't always resulted in great numbers or even consistent play, but Carter has been one of the hardest working Mavericks in the last two years. Tonight, the numbers finally matched the effort. Carter had 25 points off the bench and routinely bailed Dallas out with tough pull-ups and deep threes. Again, Carter wasn't perfect (he still had some head-scratching attempts) but he looked fully locked-in. I'm not sure what spell Rick Carlisle has Carter under, but I hope it continues.
  • We're slowly getting to the point where these O.J. Mayo stat-lines aren't all that surprising (27 points, 10 of 17 FG, 3 of 7 from three). Mayo only got to the line five times and a few were from pump faking defenders on mid-range pulls ups. But the shot making has just been fantastic. Surely this can't last, but for now, Mayo is the man. The confidence and demeanor is night and day from last season in Memphis to right now. Perhaps all Mayo ever needed was a coach that gave him the green-light? I'm not so sure yet, but Mayo carried the offense tonight and did more damage inside the arch then he usually has done this season. His mid-range jumper looks great, especially off one-dribble.
  • DARREN COLLISON LIVES. Collison has struggled so much lately that Carlisle has actually pulled him early in quarters to get Dominique Jones into the game. Yeesh. But tonight, Collison was at his best: pushing it after every miss and attack, attack, attack. Collison has never been a great pick and roll player and he struggled there again tonight, but he was finally let free in transition again and was more creative in his isolations in the half-court (17 points, 7 of 11 FG, 7 assists, 3 turnovers). It was nice to see him rebound from a poor first half to post no turnovers in the second half. Interestingly enough, Collison rarely handled the ball down the stretch, with Carter and Mayo initiating the sets. Wonder if that's a statement on Carlisle's current trust with Collison? Just something to keep an eye on.
  • Dominique Jones: five assists, one turnover as the backup point. I think we have an actual NBA player here, folks.
  • Let's go back to the Knicks final possession: an isolated Carmelo jumper against Shawn Marion. Raymond Felton (18 points, 11 assists) and Tyson Chandler (21 points, 13 rebounds) were absolutely destroying the Mavs with their pick and roll game. Chandler had three and-1s, while Felton blew by any help defense for uncontested layups. How was that not their final play? AND VINCE CARTER WAS GUARDING CHANDLER. There's no way Mike Woodson looks at that game tape and doesn't convulsive and throw up at the same time. That's a brutal, brutal, BRUTAL play call. Dallas seriously lucked out. Can't emphasis this enough. (Carlisle said he played this lineup so they can just switch automatically because their pick and roll defense was so bad. So there's that.)
  • CROOOOOW-DAH. Troy Murphy started (I guess to get Elton Brand used to his backup big role) but exited the game with some sickness. That led to Jae Crowder (12 points, 3 of 5 from three) starting the third quarter, and shit guys, he's awesome. I don't know what else to say. He hasn't played any consistent minutes in the past week, then just steps onto the court and goes off like he's been a starter all month. He had a foolish turnover before he went to the bench for good, but still, there's so much to love from this second round pick. The Knicks absolutely lost him a couple of times in transition, and Crowder buried them.
  • Jason Kidd looked positively June-2011-like. Timely threes, great extra passes and skip passes and some uncanny steals. Kidd's game regressed pretty bad in 2012, but he has an amazing role with the Knicks right now, essentially playing an off-ball point guard, if that makes sense.
  • There were some positives in the first half, but the Mavericks were lucky to be down single digits. Dallas was passive on double-teams and even slower on the proper rotations. The offense was primarily give it to O.J. Mayo and see what happens. It wasn't a great formula, but with some solid rebounding, the Mavericks were able to hang in. The Knicks should have been up 12 to 15 points but were only up 54-49. That's huge.
  • A big reason the Mavericks stayed in it was because of O.J. Mayo's 13-first half points and when Dallas wasn't turning it over, actually making some shots. Dallas was really, really perimeter-oriented in the first 24 minutes, with Chris Kaman being befuddled by constant double teams. Dallas only shot five free throws in the first half and the Mavericks lived and died with the jumper through the first two quarters. Again, lucky to be down only five.
  • Chris Kaman's pick and roll defense wasn't just bad, it was appalling. Kaman has never been known as a pick and role defensive specialist, but he was especially bad on Wednesday night. He constantly looked a step slow as Raymond Felton had a free lane almost every time he ran a pick and roll with Tyson Chandler. Part of that is the also equally bad defense of Collison, who got swallowed up on a ton of picks. Kaman and Collison really need to nail down their communication of they are to be part of the closing lineup for Carlisle. The pick and roll defense can't be that bad.
  • I leave you with this: I am extremely thankful for Shawn Marion.

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