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Game Recap: Dirk-less Mavs Blow Past Cavaliers 102-95

Can the Dallas Mavericks actually be called "the Mavericks" without Dirk Nowitzki manning the four?  The 19-7 Mavericks are coming off of a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Houston Rockets hoping to start another winning streak.  The 20-7 Cleveland Cavaliers come in looking to extend their five-game winning streak by taking advantage of a Mavericks squad missing its star player.

Does the underdog have his day?

Game as a Whole:

Tim Thomas led the Mavericks to a resounding win against Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight.  The Mavericks tonight have proven, somewhat, that they are officially one of the deepest teams in the NBA, as it is never easy to replace your franchise player and pull out a win at the same time (against the East elite no less).

There were points where the game could have easily gone Cleveland’s way, however the

Mavericks seemed to have a response to everything the Cavaliers tried to execute.  Defense was the Mavericks bread and butter tonight.  Not only did they hold Lebron James to just 23 points (on 19 shots) they allowed only one other Cavalier to hit double figures (Anthony Parker with 12). 

When the defense is as active as it was tonight and the Mavericks are attacking the paint, they look like one of the deadliest teams in the NBA. 

Let’s look at the quarters…

1st Quarter:
  • The Lebron powder ritual delays the game for at least three minutes while they clean up the floor.
  • Tim Thomas misses a short jump shot and Dampier gets an offensive rebound.  Not a good sign when Dampier misses the put back. 
  • Jose Juan Barea, seems to like to start off with a three pointer almost every night.  He makes it.
  • 10:07, Barea hits Marion for a fast break layup.  Unsure whether the Mavericks should try to run tonight when Shaq is on the floor.
  • 9:03, Erick Dampier is playing Shaq well in the first few minutes (forces a travel).  Lets see which big man gets in foul trouble first. 
  • 8:24, Another fast break basket (this time Tim Thomas) after a defensive stop.
  • 7:24, How do you fall for a pump fake from J.J. Hickson?  Don’t jump to block the shot, stay on the ground.  
  • 7:11, Marion misses a mid-range jump shot.  Has Marion made anything more than 15 feet away from the basket this year?
  • 6:27, Tim Thomas hits a three pointer.  He needs to have a big game tonight. 
  • 6:05, Gooden makes a great decision by putting the ball on the floor and attacking Shaq (2nd foul).
  • 5:30, Cleveland defensive breakdown leaves Gooden with an open baseline jumper.  Gooden is moving well without the ball. 
  • 4:50, Howard nice defensive play to keep the ball out of Lebron’s hands.  Turnover leads to a Jason Kidd three (no toe on the line). 
  • 4:05, Howard rolls perfectly to the basket and hits a layup off of a Kidd assist.
  • 3:29, Gooden hits a put back.  The offensive tempo of the game is really fast right now. 
  • Josh Howard and Shawn Marion are a great tag team against Lebron. 
  • 2:08, back-to-back traveling violations by the Cavaliers.  Mavericks haven’t capitalized.
  • 1:38, Terry hits a mid range jumper.  Most of his shots haven’t been falling these past few weeks.  Need scoring from Terry tonight.
  • :50.7, Thomas puts the Mavericks up by two with free throws.  Grabs a rebound on the defensive end. 
  • Shoot out in the first quarter is over.  Cavaliers up one. 
2nd Quarter:
  • 11:40, Josh Howard hits a running banker (and 1).  He converts the three-point play to give the Mavericks the 2-point lead.
  • 11:02, Terry is on the line for two shots.  The Dallas bench already has 15 points.
  • 10:38, nice save by Barea to put the ball back into play.  Josh Howard makes an ugly play toward the basket (running one hander) but it turns into a score on a broken play (Drew Gooden with the tip in).  
  • 9:51 Six-point lead for the Mavericks.  The Mavericks are attacking Cleveland off the dribble and drawing fouls.  Drew Gooden is on fire, hits a hook shot to give him 10 points.
  • 8:37, Barea throws a lead pass that leads to a turnover.  Dirk says "nice pass" from the bench.  Dirk needs to do color commentary more. 
  • 8:00, Jason Terry is doing a pretty good job staying in front of Delonte West.  He isn’t necessarily stopping him but at least he is slowing him down.
  • 7:05, Cleveland goes on a run as the Mavericks get complacent shooting jump shots and not attacking the rim.
  • 6:24, Shawn Marion draws a shooting foul.  Lebron picks up a foul almost immediately after coming off the bench.
  • 6:01, Jason Kidd with an 18 footer.
  • 5:46, Jason Terry takes it to the basket for a scoop.  Mavericks are now attacking the basket again, thank you very much. 
  • 4:37, Josh Howard baseline teardrop gives the Mavericks a two-point lead.
  • 4:08, Kidd takes it to the basket and gets fouled.  It’s weird/nice to see Kidd taking it to the basket tonight as well.
  • 3:20, Shawn Marion hits Eric Dampier with a nasty assist.  Dampier shot fake to dunk.  That was a beautiful play.
  • 2:49, I don’t know what Jason Terry was thinking when he decided to try and dunk on Andersen Varejao in the paint but it pays off with a trip to the line. 
  • 2:09, Varejao is confused and thinks he is shooting free throws (no such luck).  
  • 1:40, Tim Thomas with the up and under.  Mavericks are still attacking the basket. 
  • Mavericks lead by two going into the half (Lebron misses a three off the front of the rim to end the quarter).
3rd Quarter:
  • 11:48, Illegal defense (technical foul on Shaq).  Didn’t know Tim Thomas would be shooting the free throw (he misses).
  • 11:38, Tim Thomas makes up for the missed free throw with a 13-footer jumper.
  • 11:18, Jump ball as the ball gets wedged between the rim and backboard.  I think possession should go to the other team. 
  • 10:54, Barea gets a fast break layup after a nice block from Marion. 
  • 9:57, Dampier gets another lob at the rim (his second tonight) but misses the shot.  Takes his third foul at the other end. 
  • 9:29, Three-pointer from Tim Thomas.  He has really stepped up tonight in the absence of Dirk. 
  • 8:47, Barea goes around the "Big Slowness" and hits Dampier rolling to the basket.  Run that play again out of the time out, Carlisle.
  • 8:09, Tim Thomas is streaky and currently on fire.  Look for the ball to continue to go to him. 
  • 6:42, 18 points for Tim Thomas.  That knee injury is a thing of the past.
  • 5:23, Bad choice from Jason Kidd on the three.  Mavericks are currently only up by three.
  • 3:22, Jason Terry jumper to give the Mavericks a four point lead. 
  • 2:49, Marion hits a runner in the lane with the assist from Kidd. 
  • 2:00, Marion goes with the exact same runner in the same spot except Jason Terry assists.
  • Josh Howard has been relatively quiet tonight.  Defense has not been too bad. 
  • :12.1, Terry hits a contested jump shot at the elbow.  Lebron James picks up an offensive foul on the other end. 
  • They review the play and put time back on the clock, the Mavericks just let it run out. 

4th Quarter:
  • 11:25, Jason Terry seems to have found his shot again (makes a runner).
  • 10:54, Terry hits Gooden with an assist for a nice layup.
  • 10:17, Skip pass to Josh Howard who hits a three.  The Mavericks are still keeping the scoring up but the defense has fallen off a bit.
  • 9:27, Splendid block by Gooden on Lebron, leads to a basket on the other end by Howard. 
  • 8:27, Lebron picks up his third foul catching Tim Thomas in the act of shooting with the shot clock running out.  Thanks for bailing the Mavericks out, Lebron.
  • 8:10, Mavericks only up by three.  Need to get back in the paint.  
  • 7:20, Tim Thomas has cooled off.  He has missed three consecutive three pointers. 
  • 6:30, Josh Howard takes himself out of the game after missing a short shot and almost getting his own rebound.
  • 5:52, Dampier with the up and under.  Glad to see him exploit that mismatch. 
  • 5:12, Tim Thomas gets fouled going to the rim.  That is much better than him taking another three. 
  • 4:46, Great defensive stop by the Mavericks leads to a Marion post score on the other end.  The Mavericks are closing the quarter out strong. 
  • 3:56, Jason Kidd might have just hit a dagger three. However, the game is never truly over if you have Lebron. 
  • 2:35, Jason Terry hits a big three as well. 
  • 1:49, It always shows you how hard your team wants to win the game when one of your top players goes to the floor for a ball.  Jason Terry tries to get the jump ball call on Moe Williams. 
  • 1:14, What a pass from Tim Thomas to Marion in the lane!  Marion extends the lead to three possessions with a layup. 
  • :10.8, Terry isn’t making his jumpshots but he gets a contested scoop shot in the lane. 
  • Mavericks win 102-95.

Some Choice Statistics:

  • The first time Eric Dampier has ever been ejected in his NBA career came in the Mavericks loss to the Houston Rockets on Friday.  
  • Jason Kidd this year is the only player in the NBA with a rebound/assist double-double.  Pretty amazing that he rebounds so well for a guard. 
  • Tim Thomas has only missed one free throw this year.  He is 17 of 18 from the line. 

Closing Thoughts:

Six players in double figures and 38 points in the paint is usually going to put your team in a good position to win a ball game.  The Mavericks should look to consistently attack the paint and not fall in love with the jump shot on consecutive possessions to keep their offensive efficiency up.