With the Chicago Bulls playing their fourth game in five nights, the Dallas Mavericks capitalized late to close out an 83-77 victory. Dirk Nowitzki lead the Mavericks in scoring, pouring in 21. Deron Williams contributed 18 points and 6 assists, including a huge three late to help put away the game. Paul Gasol led the Bulls in defeat, scoring 17 points, grabbing 8 rebounds and dishing out 4 assists.
The Mavericks looked lethargic for most of the first half, missing 10 of their first 11 shots. Luckily for Dallas, the Bulls weren't much better. Each team shot under 35% in the opening period. Despite a stronger effort in the second quarter, Chicago took a 46-36 lead into the half.
Dallas came out much sharper in the second half, quickly closing the lead. Despite much more effective offense, the Bulls took a two point lead into the final period. The Mavericks and Chicago exchanged buckets for most of the quarter, with Deron Williams and Derrick Rose putting on a show for the fans. But it was Williams and Dirk Nowitzki who put away the Bulls late, on a pair of back to back three pointers which effectively put the game out of reach.
The Dallas Mavericks are really good in crunch time.
The pace and rhythm of that game felt strange, yet as the game wore on, it felt like the Bulls were beginning to come apart just enough for the Mavericks to take advantage. Mark Followill talked about it some during the broadcast, but during the closing minutes of close games, Dallas is really good.
With three minutes left, Dirk drove from the left wing, drawing in the defense. He threw a pass to Wes Matthews near the free throw line-extended area near the right wing after one dribble. Matthews unselfishly moved it to Williams in the corner who splashed down a momentum shifting three. The next possession, Dirk Nowitzki drilled a three with a hand in his face (and after a weird shot fake) that essentially wrapped up the game. Dirk also hit another awesome shot along the baseline with 90 seconds left.
The crunchtime duo of Dirk and Williams has been magical in the last month and with Parsons and Matthews hanging out on the wings, able to knock down baskets, the Mavericks are as good as any team in the league in the closing minutes.
Chandler Parsons is key for Dallas.
There's been a lot of unhappiness among fans when it comes to Parsons. His inconsistency seems to show up when Dallas needs him the most. And in the first half, it looked like another disappearing act from the Mavericks' $15 million dollar man.
Yet the second half comeback was engineered in no small part due to Parsons. Not only did he chip in all eight of his points (a leak out lay up, a contested drive, and a baseline jumper all come to mind immediately) he also made some pretty passes leading to buckets, including one drive and dump off to Mathews who hit a pretty reverse lay up.
I think we'd all like to see more of Chandler Parsons as a ball handler. His size paired with his vision can make him lethal. Bobby Karalla of Mavs.com has shared statistics concerning Parsons actually touching the ball. Long story short, the Mavericks win more when Parsons actually sees the ball on offense.
It may be time for Dwight Powell to visit the D-League. It's definately time for Charlie Villanueva to get pushed out of the rotation.
Basketball scholars will wonder how Rick Carlisle coaxed this many wins out of a team that has a power forward rotation featuring Dirk, Powell, and Charlie V.
A million years ago, my high school coach often used the phrase "be quick but don't hurry" and I think that's a thing Powell needs to hear over and over again. He can play in the NBA, but in terms of offense, everything he does is rushed and it's showing up in the box score. Zero points, three rebounds in fourteen minutes, and a pair of rushed shots. He's shooting 28% in 2016 and 35% over his last ten games. That's awful. A stint in the Developmental league could help his focus.
And Charlie, oh Charlie V, what are we to do with you? Posting a plus-minus of -6 in only three minutes is impressive, but it's also becoming the norm. Going back to December 1st, he's posting a -69. He's played under 200 minutes in that time and has been bad to horrible in all of them. Like Powell, he's shooting terribly in January (25%) and under 30% his last 10 games. Powell at least has the good sense to rebound and attempt to play defense when he's on the floor. Charlie does none of those things and often looks like a lost elementary school kid on defense.
With Evans and Mejri riding the bench, I'm not sure what in the hell Rick Carlisle is doing. If he's insisting on his own personal challenge mode, fine, but us fans would like to see Dallas play bench players who are good at things.