The Dallas Mavericks outlasted the Brooklyn Nets in a foul and turnover ridden game, 105 to 96. Harrison Barnes led Dallas with 21 points and 7 rebounds, with Seth Curry chipping in 18. Isaiah Whitehead put up 21 points off the bench for Brooklyn.
The first half was an ugly, disjointed mess. After such a fluid and fun game against the Lakers, the Mavericks couldn’t buy a bucket against the Nets and turned the ball over eight times. Dirk Nowitzki missed his first five shots before finally connecting on a pair of jumpers in the second quarter. The Nets led by as many as nine points before Dallas finally closed the gap and briefly took a lead late in the half. Brooklyn promptly took the lead right back, scoring the final six points to take a 49-46 lead into halftime.
The third quarter wasn’t any better. The Nets continued their run from the first half, eventually extending the lead to eight points. The Mavericks rallied back with the help of some zone defense to tie the game near the seven minute mark but could not take the lead. A sweet Wes Matthews drive and kick led to a four point play for Seth Curry which resulted in the Mavericks taking a three point lead. The final few minutes were a slug fest of free throws and Dallas took a 74-73 point lead into the final quarter.
The Mavericks opened the fourth with a pair of Dirk threes. The Nets also committed all five fouls in the first four minutes and eighteen seconds of the quarter. The combination of these two factors put the Nets on their heels for the first time all game, which resulted in Dallas building a lead which they would not relinquish.
Possession of the basketball is key to all Dallas success
That first half was just brutal. Eight different Mavericks had a turnover. Sloppiness with the ball is one thing the Mavericks simply can’t do. Earlier this week, Rob Mahoney made the following observation in Sports Illustrated:
Slow the game down enough and attention to detail can become just as valuable as other qualities Dallas might lack. Keep your turnovers low and even a flawed roster can find advantage in attempting more actual shots than its opponent. Give your defense a chance to set on every possession and you just might take away enough of an opponent’s easy baskets to win.
This is how the Mavericks have slogged their way back into the playoff picture after starting the season 4–17. They are 22–19 since, with one of the 10 best net ratings in the league.
That first half was a clinic in what the Mavericks can’t do. The shooting can only keep the Mavericks in so many games, so ball control and some twinges of defense will have to do the rest.
Get healthy Nerlens!
The Nets abused Dirk Nowitzki in the pick and roll during the first three quarters. They simply ran them until they had Dirk isolated onto a player he couldn’t stay in front of. Nerlens Noel’s absence was felt in a major way tonight, despite Dallas holding on to win. Had the Nets stolen one, that mismatch would have been the key reason why.
Thank goodness we don’t have to root for the Brooklyn Nets!
It would appear that the Nets...
Have some holes in their roster.... YEAAAAHHHHHH.
I kid. The Nets played really hard. I got this tweet just before the end of the second quarter, when Dallas briefly took the lead:
@KirkSeriousFace Nets have been scrappy all season. Usually stick around for half or 3/4 to make thing interesting— Paul Boehl (@Boehl7) March 11, 2017
And the game played out exactly like Paul told me it would. The Mavericks play Brooklyn again next Sunday, so hopefully the coaching staff can figure out what else can be done to keep a team this feisty at bay.
See you tomorrow against the Phoenix Suns.