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Dallas could have rolled over without Dirk...actually, never mind. This team isn't really good and lost to a team that is pretty good in another close and gut-wrenching fashion on Thursday night.
What's the point? I could open this recap saying the Mavericks gave a valiant effort without their MVP, but that's been said enough. I think the Mavericks have had enough moral victories this season. They lost to another good team on the road in a close game, this time 100-97 to the Golden State Warriors.
It was a really weird game all around. Both teams didn't shoot particularly well in the second half, both teams grabbed a lot of offensive rebounds and both teams fluctuated runs throughout the game. Golden State would spring off eight in a row, with Dallas then responding with seven of their own. Really weird game that had a weird flow to it all.
In the first half, the Mavericks fell behind by as many as 11 before getting back into the game and trailing by only two at halftime. Elton Brand and Dahntay Jones started tonight as Dirk Nowitzki didn't play because of a bad hip that was supposedly injured during the Portland game (when the hell did that happen?)
Shawn Marion kept the Mavericks in it throughout the first half, taking Dirk's spot in those pick and rolls and using all his assortment of odd finishes. He also rebounded like a mad man.
The second half was poor offense from both teams. Shawn Marion had two brain-dead turnovers, Brandan Wright forgot how to dunk and the Warriors just kind of dribbled around and shot jumpers or missed shots near the rim.
Somehow, the Mavericks had a chance after falling 92-79 near the start of the fourth quarter. A nice little run and a Darren Collison jumper tied the game, but then the Warriors ripped off five straight, Wright forgot how to dunk again, Mayo missed a free throw and that was pretty much it.
Whether it's turnovers, missed free throws, late technical fouls, you name it -- the Mavericks have probably done it to lose a close game in the fourth quarter. Eventually, the Mavericks are going to run out of ways to lose these close games. Maybe that's when it turns around? Nah. They'll probably just invent new ways. Like Vince Carter slipping on a discarded sweaty headband while attempting a layup, or something. Onto the bullets:
- I really like a lot of things about O.J. Mayo, but he is infuriating to watch. No matter what he does, no matter how well he seemingly plays, he commits just enough bad basketball plays to make you wonder if he's ever going to get it. Tonight, he scored 25 points on 8 of 13 shooting, dished out six assists and had two turnovers. Pretty good, right? Wrong. He played miserable off-ball defense (like he has his entire career) on Klay Thompson, allowing Thompson (27 points, 11 of 18 shooting) to get off clean look after clean look. His second turnover was a mindless half court pass that sailed off the fingertips of Shawn Marion with the Mavericks looking to tie the game with four minutes left. He missed a free throw that would have tied the game with 43 seconds remaining. Once Mayo is able to do the good without the bad, he'll be a pretty special player. I'm not sure that's going to happen this season or with the Mavericks.
- That Mayo missed free throw? Practically everyone on Twitter called it. And why not? From Bryan Gutierrez, Mayo is 14 of 22 at the free throw line in the last minute of games in which the Mavs are within five points. Mayo's an outstanding free throw shooter -- 85 percent or better. It's all in his head now.
- Seriously, can't excuse Shawn Marion for his two awful turnovers. One was a Mike-Beasley-esque pass directly to the other team on a fastbreak, the other was a swing pass about 20 feet over the head of Darren Collison.
- Elton Brand has morphed back into November Elton Brand -- the one who had no lift on his jumper and a step slow in every other phase of his game. Brand didn't do much to alter the game in his 19 minutes of play.
- The injury to Chris Kaman (who no one is sure when is coming back) has opened the door for Bernard James and Brandan Wright. Once again, James looked up to the task (6 points, 8 rebounds in 18 minutes) although a little over matched when playing defense one on one against either David Lee or Carl Landry. Wright had a pretty good three quarters but then a disastrous fourth -- he was blocked three times (one was a pretty clear goal tend, the other a 50/50 foul, no-foul that pretty much decided the game) and had an awful turnover. On all three of Wright's attempts late in the game, he should have powered his way and tried to slam the ball home to try and at least draw free throws.
- Dahntay Jones played 13 minutes, missed all of his shots and didn't provide anything. That's all to be said.
- Other than Thompson, the Mavericks did a really good job in making things tough for Golden State's other scorers. David Lee (15 points, 20 rebounds, nine assists) was masterful, but his playmaking was because Dallas did such a nice job of cutting off any lanes to the basket from any of the Warriors guards not named Thompson. Lee did most of his damage off his seven offensive rebounds (whether he got a put back, was fouled or kicked it to an open shooter.) Jarret Jack missed 10 shots (although he hit a pretty big one in the fourth), Bogut was shaky offensively and Landry had contested looks all night. Can't blame the Mavericks defense in this one, especially late.
- Vince Carter (22 points, 6 of 18 FG, 6 of 7 FTs, 4 assists) turned in the kind of performance I'd expect without Dirk: he was shot hungry, but compensated some of his wilder shots by some honest to goodness drives at the basket in an attempt to get to the line. Some of Carter's drives resulted in an easy reject for Golden State, but honestly, with how bad the Mavericks offense looked at times, I have no problem with Carter trying to generate something by going toward the rim. He only shot 4 of 11 from three and more than half of those misses were on some pretty good looks.
- Again, can't say enough about Marion's steady play (18 points, 17 rebounds, 8 of 11 shooting). Other than the two idiotic turnovers, the Matrix was in his goofy-awkward-runner glory tonight and bailed the Mavericks out on a lot of possessions that were heading no where with some offensive put backs and sneaky dive cuts.
- Darren Collison had trouble getting off his own shot, but he didn't let it affect his floor game (7 assists, 2 turnovers). I wouldn't call it a great performance or even good, but Collison held his own in pick and rolls with Jack on defense and played it safe in the half court when he couldn't generate his own offense. Of course, that meant the Mavericks had a lot of "dribble, run a pick and roll, dribble some more, run a pick and roll, shot clock winding down, QUICK SHOOT A JUMPER" possessions, but I'll take that over Collison trying to be overly aggressive and throwing the ball away.
- That "dribble, run a pick and roll and panic shoot a jumper" was the primary reason Dallas attempted 25 threes without their best jumpershooter tonight. Every player on this Mavericks roster fits in nicely...with Dirk. Take away Dirk and that forces players into uncomfortable positions and leaves the Mavs without a reliable place to throw the ball to. It also takes away any of the Mavs post up opportunities, which is why the Mavericks dribbled around and shot so many threes.
- Dirk's absence doesn't just change the offense -- it hampers the defense as well. If Dirk were playing, Carlisle could have easily switched Marion onto Thompson when Thompson started roasting Mayo off the ball. Alas, Marion was needed to guard either Lee, Landry or Bogut and only started defending Thompson when the Mavericks played a matchup-zone in the fourth.
- Jae Crowder attempted six shots in 15 minutes, making one. He also posted the ball up a few times and all those possessions went absolutely no where.
- Mark Cuban is pretty pissed off. The last play in which Wright was blocked by Bogut was about as 50/50 a play you can get in the league. Wright hesitated just a second and allowed Bogut to catch up. Wright then went up and Bogut does hit him on the arm, except Bogut isn't swinging, he just kind of has his arms out. Bogut then hits the ball for the block. Should it have been a foul? With the way refs call games lately, I have no idea. Wright did somewhat go into Bogut's arm with his shot, but Bogut wasn't going perfectly straight up either. And there definitely was contact on Wright's arm from Bogut. Considering the refs were allowing a lot of contact throughout the fourth quarter, that was probably the right call. I think. I don't know.
- Also worth noting, Rick Carlisle is also pretty pissed off. Just two days ago when the Mavericks lost to Portland, Carlisle said there's no sense in "bellyaching" and the Mavs just needed to forget it and fight on. This is pretty much a complete 180 on how Carlisle handles controversial calls -- he usually goes right to what the Mavs could have done before/after the call. Rarely do you see him blatantly go after the officials like this. I don't know what to make of it. He could be just standing up for his guys after a brutal loss. Or maybe he's just had enough. This season would drive any coach mad.
- Dallas plays tomorrow in Phoenix, most likely without Dirk. Let's hope it doesn't come down to one possession in the fourth quarter.
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