If you were to wander past the television and see the score, you might imagine tonight's matchup between the Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics, two 11-win teams with aspirations of much greater things, was an exciting shootout that ended inevitably and tragically because someone just had to lose.
Frankly, they both probably deserved to take the loss. But Boston didn't, as the veteran squad managed to make fewer mistakes after regulation, and a bundle of clutch free throws from Paul Pierce served to ice the game(and some bad passes from the other side helped, a lot).
Dallas began the night with an O.J Mayo turnover, and rarely has the opening possession so perfectly set the tone for what was to come, as Mayo would end the game credited with nine miscues, and his team a whopping 27. The hot-shooting Mavs would keep the margin close early, however, with a balanced barrage of jumpers from Chris Kaman, O.J Mayo, and Derek Fisher, and after the first Dallas was within a basket.
The second period saw the shooting suddenly turn cold, with Boston putting up the first eight points, stretching their lead to 10, and Dallas needing nearly five full minutes to get back on the scoreboard. Fortunately, Boston also began to miss shots they weren't missing in the first quarter, and an O.J Mayo jumper made the Celtic lead five at 48-43 at the break.
The third quarter began, and we should probably have a widget that can just insert this line into every recap, but Dallas scuffled out of the locker room in the second half, surrendering easy baskets, open threes, silly fouls, and carelessly giving the ball away with passes that a team simply shouldn't be making two months into the season. Halfway through the quarter, Boston had opened up a 13-point advantage and it appeared they might simply run away from the sloppy-playing Dallas club.
Then, Darren Collison checked in, and for a brief flash, we got a look at just how good he can be when the light turns on.
Collison would hit a corner three with 4:35 left, then assist Elton Brand on an and-one that made the deficit single-digits. Collison would then score the Mavericks final six points of the third quarter, pushing the pace and beating his older Celtic counterparts down the floor for layups and short jumpers. Rajon Rondo would hit a buzzer beater, but Collison's offensive outburst would keep Dallas within striking distance at 76-70.
The momentum shifting back toward the visitors, Dallas would continue to shoot the ball well, but turnovers also remained an issue, and though Dallas would take their first lead with under two minutes left on a Derek Fisher three, they could not make the killing blow against the Celtics, and with a tie game and the ball a poorly executed final possession saw O.J Mayo, after a bizarre exchange between him and Vince Carter, go past his man, Rajon Rondo, only to have the ball knocked away. Rondo would not get a clean look at the other end, so Dallas was fortunate to see extra time.
Mayo would get a shot at redemption in overtime, however, after a Kevin Garnett jumper gave Boston a two point lead at 105-103 with 26 seconds left. O.J Mayo again beat Rajon Rondo, and when Garnett was late to meet him at the lane, Mayo converted a nifty layup to tie the ballgame once more, and a missed Paul Pierce jumper(under heavy and admittedly foul-worthy Dahntay Jones defense) kept the game going for yet another five minute period.
Here, however, the Dallas mistakes would finally prove too costly to overcome. A likely tired Mayo, who played 52 minutes tonight, would miss several jumpshots, then turn the ball over with a minute left, and Boston would build a lead that free throws would protect. The final punctuation on the night came when Darren Collison, with five seconds left and needing to make a solid inbound pass to give the Mavs a chance to hoist a potentially game-tying three, threw a fastball past a diving Roddy Beaubois. Boston would hit more freebies and a worthless Mayo three ended the night with Dallas down by 2 going on 20.
- Just to reiterate, Dallas had 27 turnovers, more than twice as many as Boston, and 16 of them came from the backcourt combo of Mayo and Collison alone(yeah, they combined to turn the ball over more than the entire other team). I can't honestly imagine how Dallas was even in this game considering that number, but sufficed to say it isn't winning basketball. Period.
- Now, Dallas did shoot 51% from the field, on the road against a team with a solid defensive reputation, but it all feels pretty hollow with the "L". Both Mayo and Collison would also miss key free throws down the stretch, which, along with the bad passing, made keeping the game tied an even more daunting task.
- Mayo played 52 minutes, and shot 10-19 from the field(really, it's 9-18, since the last shot was a completely unguarded garbage three as time expired), but the longball was not there when it mattered, and Mayo got his only free throws on the night when he was mistakenly fouled by Rajon Rondo after Boston went over the foul limit. Really, you kind of wonder why with 20 seconds left in the first overtime and 40+ minutes of logged gametime Mayo had only attempted 13 shots. That, along with the nine turnovers make this a fairly unimpressive night despite another 20-point performance and shiny shooting percentages.
- Dallas played a lot of smallball tonight(Marion was even the center for some stretches), which hid the fact that the bigs combined to go 10-14 for 23 points and 12 boards. Kaman would see the most action with just 24 minutes.
- Collison still makes some awful passes, including but not limited to the pick and roll play that he still does not competently read. That being said, his speed was a real weapon tonight, and he was responsible for the third quarter comeback that kept Boston from blowing the game open. It's hard to be too positive when the guy has more turnovers than assists, but hey, I'm trying.
|Final - 12.12.2012||1||2||3||4||OT 1||OT 2||Total|