Just Vince attempting a hook shot. He made two of them, and I'm totally serious. - Ronald Martinez
This is a case of a game that was superficially close. In reality, the Mavericks killed the Raptors early and let off at the end, but never enough to actually let them back into the game. Here's the analysis.
Despite missing Shawn Marion and Elton Brand, the Mavericks didn't waver in the last game of their homestand. The Mavericks piled on early and held on late in a game that never felt close. The offensive output dipped, but nobody expected that insane output to continue.
The Mavericks didn't miss a beat in the first half. They shot 60%, led by O.J. Mayo's seven points. In the second quarter, the shooting percentage dropped but the effort didn't. Chris Kaman shot just 50%, and it's incredible that I had to use the word "just", but that's what happens when you've only missed two shots in two games.
During the second half, the Raptors seemed to be hitting almost everything they threw up, but never could close the deficit against Dallas. It was always someone stepping up for a key bucket or defensive play, culminating in Chris Kaman's dagger right-handed hook from the left block with a minute and a half left to play.
The key stat for the night was the rebounds. After allowing 15+ offensive rebounds in every game this season (including all eight preseason games), the Mavericks finally cut the trend and actually outrebounded Toronto.
Jonas Valanciunas seemed like the type of young, athletic big man who would jump all over Dallas and victimize them with offensive rebounds, but Kaman and company did a great job crashing three or four players, boxing out, and hustling. Rebounding is a mix of technique and effort, and both were present from the entire team all night.
- To start the bullets, I got to give credit to Bernard James. Sarge played just 18 minutes, but gave the Mavericks great production with nine rebounds (four offensive) and six points. He looked mobile and energetic, and probably just earned himself some playing time even when Elton Brand returns from paternity leave.
- Vince Carter may have had some sloppy turnovers (and was called out by Carlisle in his post-game presser), but he worked his way into the lane and knocked down a couple baby hooks off of the post-up. There's a reason Vince has scored 20,000+ points in his career - when he takes shots in the paint, it's a good thing.
- Besides his 17 points, Vince gave the Mavericks some big defensive plays as well. With the Raptors surging late, DeMar DeRozan drove from the wing and pulled up on the baseline. VC was having none of it, stuffing him at the point of release so forcefully he threw the ball back.'
- Troy Murphy is figuring it out. He had a couple good defensive plays to go with a three and a long two. His shot is still coming around, but I like the signing. He'll get some open looks while spacing the floor and is a solid rebounder.
- Jae Crowder was on the floor in the crunch time. Quiet game, just eight points and four rebounds, but was solid all-around. His playing time when it matters just goes to show how quickly Rick Carlisle has come to trust him. Carlisle trusting a rookie? I never thought I'd see the day!
- Kaman got love in the story's open, but for good reason. He played 33 minutes, and though he admitted his cardio is a little off since the injury, he soldiered through.
- Amir Johnson did eat his lunch defensively (18 points on 6/7), something that was called to my attention by Kaman himself. He said he wasn't happy with himself, because he felt Amir was a player who he could defend much better than he did. Expectations obviously don't mean anything, but it's nice to see that Chris is constantly looking to improve his game.
- The Mavericks travel to Jason Kidd town to face the Knicks on Friday. With Lin to Houston, do they have Kiddsanity right now? I digress. New York will actually be a good match-up for the Mavericks, so look for pre-game coverage from Kirk starting tomorrow.