I close my eyes and listen.
“It’s short! But it falls to Dirk and he can...,” Mark Followill bellows from my TV, getting interrupted by greatness.
The crowd erupts so violently, so loudly, you can’t make out the rest of Followill’s call. Dirk splashes in another clutch basket to send the game to overtime.
“DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRRRRRRRRRRK,” the Mavs PA announcer screams.
As I sit at my desk, pounding out this article, I’ve closed my eyes and listened to these words and sounds a hundred times on a loop. My heart beats a little bit faster each time I hear the snapping of the net.
These are sounds I’ve heard in general for almost 20 years. I never get tired of it. I have a slice of my brain that’s just a memory bank of Dirk greatness stored for whenever I want — bad days at school, girl trouble, trying to find a job, learning how to adult. Eventually, I won’t be adding to that part of my brain. Eventually, the new sounds will stop.
I’m not sure what I’m going to do exactly when that happens. Dirk Nowitzki is a god damn treasure and his greatness has touched my life in ways that sound really stupid in the grand scheme of things but it matters. It helps.
Tomorrow I’ll wake up and it’ll be another day. It’ll be another day closer to when I stop collecting the new sounds for my memory bank. I’m sure in the next few days, weeks or months, I’ll feel like crap. When that happens, I’ll close my eyes and listen.
“It’s short! But it falls to Dirk and he can...,”
I’ll hear the crowd. My heart will start beating a little faster. And everything will be OK.
Onto the notes:
- This ain’t Harrison Barnes’ team yet.
- But it almost is. Barnes was incredible tonight with 31 points on 12-of-20 shooting. He routinely attacked the rim in the fourth quarter and overtime, no matter who was guarding him. He took the NBA’s best rim protector, Rudy Gobert, to the rack and scored over him. He took Derrick Favors to the cup and scored over him, plus the foul. Barnes got calls tonight he hasn’t gotten all year and I can’t help but wonder if referees are finally used to him being a guy that doesn’t just stand in the corner and launch threes. Barnes had his moments of predictable mid-range stall outs, but he was miraculous in getting more than what the defense was giving him. It was a constant stream of drives against one of the better defensive teams in the league. Oh, and only one turnover too.
- Dwight Powell played seven minutes, scored zero points and was a minus-1 on the night. Statistically, he did almost nothing. Yet, I’m compelled to gush about him because finally, after weeks of me suggesting (complaining) about how the Mavs used Powell to guard the pick and roll, the Mavs have finally changed. The Mavs overall scheme to defend the pick and roll is conservative, with the big dropping back into the paint and letting the guard take an open jumper in hopes of walling off the rim. That never worked for Powell, because that let guards get a head start to the rim, where Powell is terrible at guarding. Powell’s greatest asset on defense is his speed and finally, the Mavs are trapping the pick and roll with Powell. Rick Carlisle has busted it out late in games, throwing teams off and causing turnovers and discombobulation. KEEP DOING THIS. Powell’s rim protection is equal to a broomstick with a bucket on the end of it. Using his speed has been a nice weapon to unleash on teams in these last couple games and I hope the coaching staff keeps employing it whenever Powell is on the floor.
- Devin Harris looked like 2006 Devin Harris and it was weird and awesome as hell. He was a defensive pest and a blur to the rim in transition and off screen and rolls. Harris’ size allowed the Mavericks to defend better during their comeback. I love Yogi Ferrell, but he was just too short against a team as huge as Utah. Harris gave the Mavs backcourt the balance it desperately needed on defense while giving it the scoring punch it also needs (13 points) with no J.J. Barea.
- The Mavs are still a well-under .500 team but their ability to cause turnovers (12 steals and 21 Jazz turnovers) and protect the ball on their end (11 total turnovers) is a great equalizer. Dallas just doesn’t beat themselves on offense and almost always gets a shot up. It isn’t always a great shot, but it’s a shot nonetheless and for a team that’s starting Dirk at center, the fewer live-ball turnovers the better. Dallas is out-matched talent-wise in a lot of matchups but their ability to take care of the ball can level them with almost anyone in the league. It almost feels like they’re cheating the system, like counting cards at a blackjack table.
- Carlisle said after the game that it was Justin Anderson that swung it. The Mavs were down 21 when Carlisle dusted off the youngest player on his roster and rolled him out there to see what would stick. Anderson had one huge play, the putback slam on the missed free throw and energized the Mavs back into the game. He was a plus-16 in his 10 minutes and seemingly got the Mavs back on track. I don’t doubt Carlisle at all about Anderson’s impact, but damn if he doesn’t still do stuff that makes you want to rip your hair out.
Watch Anderson. He owes Salah dinner after this. Amazing how aloof on defense he is right now. pic.twitter.com/AgSOwRIYi6— Josh Bowe (@Boweman55) February 10, 2017
Anderson has his back to the ball and he’s not even paying attention to his man! For every putback slam from Anderson, there’s one of these brain-farts. If he can ever cut out the mental boofs, he’s going to be special. Still, good on him for getting thrown into a game after inconsistent playing time and contributing in some way.
- Seth Curry is so good now, he made Rudy Gobert look like Dwight Powell. Curry doesn’t have the handles like his brother, but he has the sweet hesitation game that lets him change gears on a dime and herky-jerky his way to the bucket. Curry had 16 points with just one made three and he continues to get better inside the arc.
- The way the Mavs grind out possessions to get good shots is a thing of beauty. Neither of Dallas’ guards are great creators so the Mavs just keep passing, screening and rolling their way to get good looks. The amount of movement on select Mavs possessions is dizzying — Dirk is relentless with his screening, constantly setting picks till he gets the desired mismatch in the post, a clean look at a jumper or his guard gets a clear path to the bucket. It’s wonderful watching Dirk ply his craft in this area, as he refuses to let a defense snuff out the initial pick and roll and go to something else. If you’re gonna beat the Mavs pick and roll/pop game with Dirk, you’re going to have to stop it three to four times a possession. Dallas never lets you rest on that end and they wore down a tired Jazz team.
- Gobert fouling out before overtime was huge and swung the game — Barnes showed no fear going against Favors and Dirk was a bit more comfortable on defense. Favors is a really nice player, but Gobert has turned into like a go-go-gadget version of Tyson Chandler. He’s such a great two-way guy now.
- Not much from Yogi Ferrell tonight (nine points, five assists on 3-of-8 shooting in 26 minutes) but that’s OK — Utah is a bastard of a matchup for him, with the Jazz’s big backcourt and wing players. He’s still not embarrassing himself though or looking like he’s a flash in the pan. Even in those 26 minutes, Yogi had four steals. He’s an absolute pest when you can’t get a body on him when he’s guarding.
- Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.