Heard the expression "inches away from" doing whatever? The Mavericks were just an inch away from losing that game, and I am being completely literal, after just watching Carmelo's jumper spin out.
The story for the Mavericks, though, is their late offensive rebounding. Two of them, both of them crucial, were acquired with two minutes left, one by Kidd (thanks to a Chandler tip out) and one by Butler. With a three point lead, Dallas was able to whittle the clock down an entire minute during this sequence.
However, another offensive rebound, this one a tip dunk by Carmelo, almost cost us the game. Had that Carmelo jumper to end the game swished home, his lack of a box out would be a much bigger deal.
Though those offensive rebounds were important, the overall effort rebounding the ball was great. Effort and hustle was clearly evident, especially in the second half. Chandler especially, who has missed some box outs in previous games (and still probably missed a few tonight) seemed to be all over the place, getting contested rebounds. The overall rebounding margin ended up being +6, but the effort, in my opinion, was even better than that stat.
The other reason the rebounding was important was because the Mavericks utilized a zone defense for much of the game. This zone is not just a way to cover up Barea, but something Carlisle views as a legitimate defensive option. While this game did not show its complete effectiveness (46% shooting and 101 points for Denver), Carlisle obviously likes what he's seeing out of it.
- Clearly, Carlisle has not determined his rotation yet. Dominique Jones got several minutes early, as one of the first subs in the game, but didn't play after that. Brian Cardinal got some looks, though he did nothing with his time either. Dirk got early rest in the 3rd, came back late in the quarter, but then got a one minute break in the 4th. There are still things with the rotation that Carlisle is adjusting.
- Only 13 turnovers were committed by the Mavericks, which is a respectable number. However, most of the turnovers were head slappers. Multiple travels by both big men, forced passes to a cutting player, and at least one pass that just was not in the right place. I think the reason it seemed so much worse was that many of these turnovers were immediately turned into points on the other end of the floor.
- JJB had a up and down outing, and yes, there was some "up" to it. I think I need to do a player analysis piece on him to try to determine his role moving forwards. Look for that this weekend.
- I loved aggressive Dirk. He may have missed that hard, driving dunk, but I appreciated his back downs in the post to get easy layups and his drives from the elbow instead of settling. I liked the driving hook, too. He hit his fair share of jumpers, but it certainly looked like his crazy shots were not on today. Didn't see a lot of one footed fades or pump fake swim move shots go in. That just goes to show that even on bad shooting nights, he can still almost always drain a face up j and still shoot over 50% (almost...15/31). And I think he was probably fouled on that last shot...I heard people said it, and plus, Dirk just doesn't miss like that.
- Quick FT shooting note: all is well. 17-19 tonight.
- Good to see Butler contribute late, hitting a huge, ballsy three and getting that offensive board I mentioned.
- One last thing: I mentioned I loved Chandler's hustle, but what I loved even more was that he listened to Carlisle. Early in the game, he jumped straight up but brought his hands down, trying to block the shot. He got a foul, and had to go to the bench. The camera showed Rick talking to him, and even demonstrating to him to keep his hands up. Later in the game, Chandler was in a similar situation, but this time, didn't foul. And then, very shortly after, did so again. If I recall, there was even a fourth instance in the 2nd half were once again, Chandler went straight up, didn't foul, and made the offensive player make a tough shot. He didn't, Chandler got the rebound, and Carlisle is happy.