Last night the Dallas Mavericks eked out a win over the Memphis Grizzlies in Graceland, a feat they had been unable to accomplish on their prior three tries. The game was not pretty, with the Mavericks only leading for 3:02 minutes in regulation (during the second quarter). But a win is a win, and we’ll take it! Tonight the Mavs take on the Orlando Magic (52-22) who are sitting comfortably in second place in the Eastern Conference. The Magic have also had a nice long break, having not played since they beat Denver on Sunday. Dallas, however, is coming off of a scrappy overtime win and will need to dig deep to find the energy to battle Howard in the paint.
Will the Mavericks extend their current winning streak to four, or will the Magic put a stop to their playoff momentum?
Game as a Whole:
It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was pretty ugly. Dallas shot just 38% for the game and just 29% from beyond the arc. This wouldn’t be so terrible, except Orlando held a three-point shooting clinic with 68% on the night. Mikael Pietrus was particularly brutal, hitting 6 of 6 from distance. One statistic that was clearly absent tonight for the Mavericks was their assists- they had just 7 to the Magic’s 15. For a team that prides itself on sharing the ball, this was a pretty poor showing. Dirk was clearly not as cold as he was last night, leading Dallas with 24 points. JJ Barea provided a spark off the bench with 16 points in 17 minutes. Shawn Marion and Caron Butler were noticeably absent again, scoring just 4 and 3 points respectively. Both Erick Dampier and Brendan Haywood committed too many fouls and didn’t show strong enough under the basket. Facing a team with one of the best centers in the league, this was a pretty significant issue.
Vince Carter, who hasn’t had a superstar season, found his shot tonight, and was hitting them at the most inopportune times. Every time Dallas would get a big shot, Carter didn’t waste a moment getting back to open up the gap. Between Carter finding his rhythm and Pietrus having a career night, the Mavericks couldn’t climb back into the game. Some might argue that there were missed moving screen calls etc. on Dwight Howard, but franchise players get franchise calls, and Howard played a solid game, with 17 points and 20 rebounds. He has 59 double/doubles and 9 games with at least 20 rebounds this season. Face it, tonight the Mavericks got beat.
Let’s Take a Look at the Quarters:
- Orlando wins the tipoff and scores first.
- Dirk’s first shot is short. Let’s hope he gets a faster start than he did last night.
- Howard is walking all over the Mav’s front court.
- 10:07, Kidd hits a rare midrange jumper to put Dallas on the board. He’s all over the defensive rebounds as well.
- 9:49, He’s clearly feeling it. He takes the ball down, sets his feet and hits a three.
- 9:11, Marion gets a long offensive rebound and hits Haywood for the easy dunk.
- 8:14, Marion takes a weird shot, but Howard gives him the goal-tend.
- 6:46, Butler draws Matt Barnes on a shot fake and gets the foul. He makes one of two.
- Orlando is committing some silly fouls.
- 5:52, Kidd strips the ball from Carter and Haywood converts on the resulting fast break.
- Dirk is having a hard time getting started again. This isn’t going to cut it in the playoffs.
- 4:13, When he does get a bucket to drop, it sure is pretty.
- The Mavericks are playing sturdy defense.
- 3:08, The shot clock doesn’t get reset when the Mavericks get the ball from the Magic, and it goes off at the wrong time. They reset it at 20 and the Mavs inbound the ball.
- 2:19, Dampier gets a rare offensive rebound and puts it back in for his first points.
- So far the teams are looking pretty well matched, and Dallas doesn’t look too exhausted.
- Rodrigue Beaubois joins Kidd in the backcourt to start the quarter.
- 11:00, Dirk drives to the rim and gets fouled. His first two points are on the board.
- 10:11, Butler almost commits a shot clock violation but gets fouled just in time. He gets both to fall.
- 9:27, Terry connects on a midrange jump shot.
- 8:55, Dirk hits his classic fadeaway. It went in. You saw it. Now keep doing it!
- Roddy is running the point while Kidd takes a break.
- 8:18, Dirk makes a beautiful spin to the basket for an easy two.
- 7:42, Terry takes the fast break all the way for the score with a scoop.
- 6:25, Dirk puts himself in double digits. This is much better than last night.
- 5:47, This time Dirk uses the glass to bring the game to a tie.
- Both teams are struggling to create effective offense.
- Kidd comes back in, as do Haywood and Marion.
- Lots of offensive rebounds, no made shots to capitalize.
- 1:13, JET with a runner in the lane. Mavs down by 5.
- :24.2, Haywood takes a hint from Dirk and uses the glass to put one in from close.
- 11:42, Kidd passes cross-court to Dirk who sends it to the hoop with style.
- Orlando quickly leads by 10 early in the half.
- 10:31, Dirk is going to take matters into his own hands. He hits again.
- Haywood picks up his fourth foul with an illegal screen.
- 9:39, Butler gets a steal and instead of forcing the issue, he finds Dirk for the score.
- Dirk saves the day again by getting fouled just before the shot clock expires. He makes both free throws.
- 5:24, Kidd gets a huge steal and Barnes fouls him to prevent the fast break points. Everybody wants to hug Jason Kidd. He makes both.
- JJ Barea sees his first minutes after missing all of last night’s game.
- 4:24, Dampier gets a huge offensive rebound off of Dirk’s miss and is able to put it back in for two.
- Kidd and Terry blow a fast break, and then Carter gets the and-1 on the other end.
- Mavericks are shooting 34% on the night so far. Simply awful, and they’re down 16.
- 1:49, Barea creates his own offense and hits the jump shot.
- :42.6, Dirk steps around Bass and puts in a little dunk. He has 24.
- Jet throws the ball to Dampier’s back to ruin another offensive set.
- 10:59, Jet makes it up by driving for a layup.
- 9:08, Somehow 6-foot Barea scores over Howard. But Carter comes right back to score on the other end.
- 7:51, Barea with a three. Hey, whatever works. Again, Carter answers right back.
- 7:21, Barea providing a little spark off the bench with a layup.
- 6:52, JET takes the contact and makes the basket for the and-1. He completes the three-point play. Mavs down 13.
- 5:15, A miss by Marion is kept alive by Dampier, who then gives it back to Marion for the score.
- 4:36, JET with a MUCH needed three-pointer. Now Mavs are only down 10. Who ruins it? That’s right, Carter comes right back and hits two.
- 3:15, Barea hits a long two to bring it back to a 13 point game.
- Orlando gets consecutive offensive rebounds. Fortunately they commit an offensive foul before they can capitalize.
- 2:16, Barea is putting on a show with another three. GET A STOP.
- They get the stop but Dirk takes and misses a three.
- 1:14, Barea again! He goes right for Howard and puts it in. It’s a 9 point game.
- Pietrus hits a dagger three. He is 5-5 tonight.
- Make that 6-6. Game over.
Some Choice Statistics:
Not a statistic so much as an interesting fact: Mikael Pietrus is credited with discovering Rodrigue Beaubois. Both are native to Guadaloupe, and Pietrus brough Roddy with him to France to play on their National Team after seeing his potential in a basketball camp.
Yes, tonight was the second of a back-to-back. Yes, last night’s game went into overtime and the Mavericks are probably tired. But they missed a lot of easy opportunities tonight, so there are no excuses. When they face the Thunder on Saturday, they’re going to need to keep their heads in the game.