"Life is meant to be enjoyed, not endured." -Anthony J. D'Angelo
Sometimes, all you can do is watch and hope to survive.
The Mavericks did survive. They survived Johnson's three rolling off the rim, just short of tying the game. They survived Dirk's 2/9 fourth quarter, missing shots that are usually makes. They survived their own poor execution throughout the entire game, especially on offense. It wasn't pretty, but its hard to get too upset when the outcome is a win, on the road, on the second game of a back to back against a solid team.
What is easy, however, is to see room for improvement.
The first half ended with the Mavericks leading by 12, and yet, it seemed like it easily could have been an even bigger lead. On offense, there were a handful of airballs (including one from Dirk!), some ugly misses on what should have been high percentage finishes, and several cases of either passing too much or not passing enough. Defensively, Atlanta scored 14 fast break points way too easily, capitalized on several long offensive rebounds, and appeared to have figured out Dallas's zone on certain possessions (though the 42 points indicated they never truly did).
The beginning of the third quarter saw Dallas jump back to a big lead, a habit so far this year. The big contributor was DeShawn Stevenson, who knocked down three triples. However, Atlanta slowly forced their way back into the game, and by the 3rd, had whittled the lead to nine after trailing by 18 halfway through the quarter.
In the beginning of the fourth, it was Jordan Crawford getting hot for the Hawks. He knocked down four straight shots. Atlanta never could close the gap. They remained close, but never ahead. It wasn't until Bibby's three with 36 seconds remaining that they were even within a shot. Two more minutes in the game, and this outcome may have been quite different, but Dallas's early work was enough to walk out with a victory. Enough to survive.
- Another poor shooting day for Barea. If he was a proven big time scorer in the NBA, I would be complementing him, because he's still looking for his shot, even though its off, while not forcing stupid shots because he's angry. Sadly, he's not. He's a backup point guard who can score, but not well enough to have a four game stretch where he takes 35 shots and makes just seven of them. Even if he's on fire, I'm not sure I want him taking 35 shots in four game! I do appreciate his big three pointer to swing the momentum in the fourth quarter, though.
- Dirk definitely did not look like Dirk today. He airballed one shot, banked a fadeaway jumper almost off the top of the backboard, missed back to back free throws, and on one possession, refused to take a shot despite being reposted twice by Barea, causing a wild trey with the shot clock winding down by the aforementioned Puetro Rican. Combine that with several late misses,
- Butler's shot selection was much better this game. He only took two shots from 20 feet or longer, and stayed away from those shot clock draining baseline iso's. Instead, he found open jumpers close to the rim, slashed, and got out on the break. While he still is not finishing well at the rim (just 45% at the rim this year, down from last year, which was also awful), it is good to see some improvement.
- That Tyson Chandler lob has been a big part of the offense this year, but its not for everyone. Two or three passes were way off target resulting in turnovers, and once, it was run for Marion, who couldn't covert (on a poor pass by Kidd)
- Stevenson has been money this year. Unlike last year, he knows his role. No more fadeaway 22 footers, no more wild drives, no more forced shots. OK, who am I kidding...he took a couple fallaway mid range jumpers, not the highest percentage shots even though he made one and got fouled on the other, and also tried to zip a pass to the big that sailed out of bounce. But overall, he is much more under control, and that allows him the success.
- The reason he hasn't got even more minutes, though, is because Terry continues to play well. Fifteen points and seven assists, with 50%+ shooting. I could write some garbage about Terry being a better teammate and passing the ball more, but really, he's just hitting his shots this year, at a higher clip that 09-10. He just needs to stay consistent.