Jason Kidd came out aggressively searching for his shot, the Dallas Mavericks built a big lead in the first half, lost it, built a big lead in the second half, lost it, Vince Carter was garbage, Rodrigue Beaubois continued to play well, Lamar Odom not so much, Knicks went on a 15-0 run in the 4th, Dirk closed, now to the important part:
I love Tyson Chandler (his new beard is weird though).
I could watch the ring ceremony all day (find it here). I totally understand the decision to let him go, but last night showed once again why he will be beloved and admired forever by his former teammates and Dallas sports fans. He played through a wrist injury that won't need surgery after the season, according to Tyson, but does hurt a lot and normally needs time to heal. Not if you're a warrior, not if you're Tyson. More importantly, two minutes of ring ceremony summed up the extraordinary brotherhood last years team shared, and that Chandler was the glue. He received his ring, pumped his fist into his chest twice and pointed to the Dallas crowd, the Mavericks players, whatever. It doesn't really matter. He is still a part of our team, ever will be (was someone else truly irritated when he joined the Knicks players after receiving his ring, like... hey, wrong side bro, no?).
After all I think it actually was a good thing that he didn't return. Not that the Mavs can replace him as a player, as a leader, as a friend, but it helped cementing his legacy, which really was one although he only was here for a year. Why? Imagine he comes back on a huge contract, gets injured or can't fulfill the (raised) expectations. Don't we want to remember last years team and all of its components as what it truly was? A hell of a one year ride, a special group of players that came together for one goal, fought for each other and came out victorious. It's something that happens once every ten years, or twenty, or thirty, who knows. I want to remember this team exactly as special as it was, don't spoil it by bringing all players back, maybe underachieve this season, hear all the analysts telling you that last years group really was only lucky, that they can't repeat, that they aren't good enough in any other season.
Dirk Nowitzki said the championship is something nobody can take away from them and now they can't even reevaluate last years roster, because it doesn't exist any longer. I like it. I think secretly some dudes would have wanted Cuban to stick with the roster at all cost. Not only because it would have made sense, but also because they wanted evidence that the team should have been swept by the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round, by the Lakers in the second, by the Thunder in the Western Conference and by the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. It won't happen. This was only one year, nothing to add, and more importantly, nothing to subtract. We'll also remember this team as special as it was because Tyson Chandler didn't get his new contract here. Trust me.
Oh, you're right, there was a game as well: Jeremy Lin underachieved, Carmelo Anthony was expectedly shut down by Shawn Marion, Tyson got unexpectedly outplayed by Ian Mahinmi, the Mavs couldn't find their long shot outside Kidd and Roddy, but still won.
OK, seriously... onto the bullets after the jump.
- Jason Kidd played his best offensive game all season. Not only did he hit 50% of his long bombs (3-for-6), but he also drove to the basket and actually tried to finish, including a coast to coast fastbreak that ended up with two attempts at the charity stripe. Look, Jason Kidd won't do it all season, won't do it all game, but he is still a crafty player that can get to the rim, post up the Lin's of this world. And the Mavs should let him. Opponents doesn't defend him outside the three ball, and rightfully so, because even if he has a clear lane, he exclusively decides to pass. I honestly think he could get four or six point per game out of these opportunities and that would be a huge boost for the Mavs.
- Roddy outplayed Jeremy Lin, was aggressive and got to the line six times, which is crucial. Some time ago the "Hot Button" feature at ESPNDallas.com asked which player will have the greater career: Jeremy Lin or Rodrigue Beaubois. Unsurprisingly, an overwhelming majority voted for Linsanity and it was almost profanity to even compare Roddy to him, because the sensation was still growing and Roddy picked up DNPs. Things have changed. Lin is regressing with the full complement of players available for the Knicks and Roddy is on the rise with Delonte West out. A players talent is not at all the lone indicator for individual success, I say circumstances and opportunity are in most instances. Lin is still legit, but his value declines with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire back, Roddy's value rises with Delonte West out. If that continued, whom would you pick at the hot button?
- Vince Carter struggles after the break. The Mavericks sure were hoping he could be their Josh Howard, Caron Butler type of player, mainly an early first and third quarter scorer that gets the team going. It doesn't happen lately. He's averaging a PER of 7.48 after the break, shoots 32.50% overall and 20.00% from three. Before the break, he posted a PER of 16.28, shot 44.23% and 43.96% from three. Quite a difference I'd say. He looks gassed, also defenses seem to treat him more aggressively, deny him the ball, body up.
- You want more on opportunity and circumstances? Take Ian Mahinmi, who now gets big minutes with both Brendan Haywood and Brandan Wright sidelined. And he produces. He still has these silly fouls going, but his defense was decent and he is the Mavs best rebounder after the break at 15.57%.
- Dirk was Dirk, what can I say.
- No game without a poor offensive stretch from the Mavericks, this time the Knicks went on a 15-0 run to start the 4th quarter.
- Lamar Odom had a crappy night, but let me put it this way: It was one of those games. I can't say he didn't try or wasn't committed, his defense was great, but he missed all these chippies at the rim (1-for-5) in the first half. On some of them he may got fouled, at least he turned to the officials in disbelief a few times. But hey, we do give Marion credit when he plays great on defense (who had yet another otherworldly performance against Melo), but can't get anything to go on the offensive end. I'll apply the same standards here.
- After complaining about the free throw disparity, the Mavs attempted seven more free throws than the Knicks, who normally shoot five more per game than the Mavericks. Uh-Oh?! I know, the Knicks didn't lose that game because of the referees, but because Melo played like Odom and Tyson wasn't Tyson with the ring on his finger (can't imagine you can grab many rebounds with that, gravity and all). Jason Kidd himself should have been whistled for a flag-1 after catching Lin's head on an attempt to swat away the ball. Anybody who tells me that officiating is not a huge part of the game is making a fool out of himself. Forget it. The anatomy of officiating in the NBA is really simple: Criticize and you're searching for excuses, referees are untouchable, the NBA throws fines at everybody to keep the topic down, pretending that they don't make any mistakes, which is not honest. Furthermore, you get the feeling that referees are so bad, that the NBA has to protect them in order to keep their reputation. There's virtually no media coverage on these topics. Did you ever see an ESPN headline stating "Joey Crawford had an all-time poor officiating night!" No? Why? Nothing wrong with it.
- Last night presented a perfect example of that: With approximately 1:30 left in the fourth quarter, the ball went out of bounds off Amare in an attempt to drive to the rim. I think it was Marat Kogut who initially said it was Knicks ball, but they reviewed the play because it was within the last two minutes of the game. Replays clearly (and I use the upper case, the bold font and exclamation points here, because it's appropriate: CLEARLY!!!) showed that nobody but Amare did touch the ball. Yet the crew said the call on the court stands, which indicates that there was not enough evidence to overturn, which is a joke (and I use the upper case, the bold font and exclamation points here, because it's appropriate: A JOKE!!!). I don't mind that, but what I do mind is the reaction of my beloved broadcasting crew of Foxsports Southwest. They were tiptoeing around the topic, saying... well, that went unexpected and stuff.
My advice to all crews that appear on national television: Stand in front of a mirror and say the following sentence: "Marat Kogut and the officiating crew just got that call bla-tan-tly wrong!"
Say it ten, a hundred, a thousand times, until you're no longer ashamed of saying, even thinking it.
In my eyes the officials might have figured during the replay that Stoudemire got hacked, lost the ball because of that and therefore gave the Knicks the ball back, who had only a slim chance of winning the game anyway, but minus multiplied by minus only becomes a plus in math.
- That's it. Mavs have one day off and then play their only back-to-back-to-back. That should be fun, I guess.