Sometimes there's a specific reason to why a team lost.
No game story, but very extensive bullets after the jump.
- If you were to label a reason, it'd be Dirk's poor shooting. In the victory the Mavericks had last week against San Antonio, Dirk was stellar all night, and his combination of brilliant, fading swishes and crisp overhead passes to an open shooter was unbeatable. Tonight, he did not hit those shots, and when he got the double, was not able to exploit the passing lanes and open players.
- With that said, I'll blame a couple of things for Dirk's struggles. First off, the Spurs really did do a good job of dictating what shots Dirk took. Last week against them, Dirk got whatever shot he wanted. Tonight, some of his normal shots were shut down while he was forced into different, tougher ones. Still makeable, but harder shots, and more importantly, not always the shot Dirk was looking for. They also did a good job contesting his shots cleanly. However, they fouled him plenty with body contact throughout the game, something that was rarely called by the referee crew. It wasn't a couple calls that were egregiously bad, but consistent non-calls throughout the game as Dirk was bumped, bodied, pushed and nudged through the game. I'd understand if some of the times the referees let the contact slide, especially when Dirk was the one initiating it, but to go the entire game without ever calling it is simply ridiculous. I'm not asking for the twenty-four free throws Dirk got in the Western Conference Finals, but is a happy medium too much to ask? Maverick fans know exactly where I'm coming from, and Jason Kidd echoed these same opinions earlier in the year. I'll leave it to him: "Dirk [Nowitzki] should live at the line if they would call it the way it's supposed to be. But he doesn't." (source)
- One more thing about Dirk: the box score only credits him with two rebounds, but I noticed several times he tipped the ball to the teammate. He does not get credit for those boards, but honestly is helping his team more than if he had just controlled it, because it helps the transition get started.
- The transition was a weapon that the Mavericks did use to keep it close through three quarters. Terry hit three of his four triples on the break, and while ESPN reports just 13, there were certainly many more times that a quick set created thanks to getting out a running was able to get the Mavericks a basket.
- On the other end, the Mavericks defense was too inconsistent, and ultimately pretty porous. They would alternate between forcing a tough look and blowing their pick-and-roll rotations and allowing a wide open dunk. The worst moment was allowing a layup to Danny Green off an inbounds pass from the baseline.
- One of these breakdowns left Tim Duncan unguarded and allowed him to get the most violent dunk I've seen from him in several years. Ironically, it was immediately after he was the recipient of a flagrant one that was called on Brian Cardinal. It wasn't a flagrant; rather, just a poorly aimed swipe and an attempt to wrap him up that support him, but I'm sure Timmy's reaction and an unhappy crowd was pretty convincing for the referees.
- Living in Austin, the Maverick broadcast is blacked out in my area. It's a treat when the Spurs come along because they are in my market. Unfortunately, that means the Spurs announcers for an entire game. They surprised me today when they offered up an intriguing statistic: Dirk and Kidd are the only two players to have a thousand three pointers and eight thousand rebounds in their career. Don't get your hopes up, though. It wasn't long after that they accused the twelve year vet Shawn Marion of stealing his one legged floater from DeJuan Blair. Yes, the same DeJuan Blair that was ten when Shawn was shooting that floater as a rookie for Phoenix.
- Speaking of Marion, it was good to see him back in the lineup. He was able to get thirteen points on eleven shots -- a decent night for him -- but still is struggling with his offense on the low post.
- Marion starting meant Vince Carter was back delegated to the bench. He turned in nearly nothing in 24 minutes. However, he shot a couple of three pointers left handed after a whistle blew the play dead. Drew iron on both.
- Matt Bonner missed a wide open dunk, so this game wasn't ALL bad.
- Center watch: Ian Mahinmi looked real good, posting eleven and nine with a couple of blocks, and only missed one shot. Brandan Wright got less minutes, but picked up three blocks that all looked way too easy. Forget how high he can jump, all he needed was those freakingly long arms (in a very, very good way if you ever read this, Brandan).
Final tally: 13 points, 10 rebounds, 5 blocks, 5/7 shooting from the floor.
- Jason Kidd has to get some love. Four of eight from deep, hit a contested pull-up jumper from the elbow (a shot he's looking for more and more often, it seems), and tallied seven rebounds. Of course we all knew this, but he has honed the craft of running a fast break. Lately, he's been using the one handed bullet pass to advance the ball up the floor, picking it up off of a dribble and just rifling it where it needs to go. Not many players who can make that pass like he does.
(EDIT: I incorrectly said he had seven assists. He had just one. No fault of his own, though, let me assure you. Teammates did not finish the plays. I've been saying for years the NBA and stat geeks should start a stat called assisted shots, or something to that extent, that counts the number of times you would be eligible for an assist. This way, even if you make five or six beautiful passes to wide open three point shooters and they miss every one, there is still a stat that shows that, because you'll have zero assists. Tonight, Kidd made some nice passes but teammates didn't finish.)
- Roddy Beaubois had a pretty average game, but considering the Mavericks were running the offense through him a lot when he was on the floor, it would have been nice to see a little more offense. Still, a 10/4/5 line with 50% shooting is nothing to complain about, though the three turnovers sours it just a bit.
Alright, I hit just about everyone. Quick turnaround, as the Mavericks go down to Houston to battle the Rockets tomorrow night. Let's hope for some respect from Dirk, better defense, and a win. I'd be happy with just the last one, though.