Feb 22, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) drives against Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) in the second quarter at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
The Mavericks are headed into the All-Star break on a high note. Sure, the loss tonight was frustrating, but they've won seven of their last nine, going from a meandering 14-11 to a much more respectable 21-13. Dirk, who looked positively Brian Cardinal-esque for an early portion of the season, is finally rounding into form. He's scored 20+ points in ten of his last eleven games, only failing to meet that mark in a blowout win against Denver where he took merely 12 shots. So hold your head up; these are your defending champions.
With that said, this whole Lakers game was very frustrating to watch. With as many good things the Mavericks did and as many bad things the Lakers did, it would not be too far of a stretch to have seen a Maverick double digit win. Instead, they lose by four. Dirk Nowitzki was the high man with 25 points and 12 boards, but ask him, and I bet he would say he's unhappy with his play. He missed two huge free throws late in the fourth, was only 1-6 from deep despite getting wide open looks, and gave up the dagger offensive rebound to Matt Barnes after Pau Gasol missed another free throw (he was definitely pushed, but it is what it is).
Late games are not my forte, so let's go right to bullets.
Vince was the hero in the first half, scoring 18. No dunks, but let me tell you, the basket early in the first where he drove right, pivoted to the left side, and finished with a lefty layup was just as good. He's just so damn fluid when he makes ridiculously difficult moves like that, I could watch it all day. However, he gave the Mavericks nothing in the 2nd half -- just two points on a trip to the line. Some of it was the lack of involvement from the Mavericks, some of it was just him missing shots. I would like to see an emphasis to get the ball to him in the low post in the first quarter in every single game.
No Odom meant that all the bigs got thrown in there against the Lakers. Yi, Wright, and Mahinmi all got chances, but none of their play jumped out.
With that said, Wright did have the highest Mavericks +/-, and it wasn't even close. His +19 was twelve higher than Yi's. Hmm.
It seems like Kidd is still struggling a bit with his shot, but he's actually shooting 39% this month from deep. Also, one of my favorite plays of the night was a classic JKidd play. He gets blocked on a three point attempt in the corner, but he recovers to get the ball as it comes down and swings it right to the mitts of Vince Carter for a triple. He is an absolute wizard for just knowing where the ball is going to be in every aspect of the game.
So much for keeping him under 30 minutes, though. He had 34, and Dojo got just 5.
Marion played great defense on Kobe, who was not himself. Some of Bryant's seven turnovers were just sloppy plays, but several were due to defensive pressure. However, limiting Kobe to 15 doesn't matter if you can't pull out a dubya.
The Lakeshow missed 8 of 15 free throws in the 4th.