In his first start as a Dallas Maverick, Nerlens Noel played some brilliant basketball, all five scorers scored in double figures, and the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 104-100.
In the first half of this game, Nerlens Noel and Seth Curry were Dallas’ best players. While the opening quarter showed a slow start offensively for both teams, with Dallas going 3-13, and Memphis 2-8 in the first six minutes, Nerlens was everywhere while Seth continued his increasingly consistent and reliable shooting. Interestingly, Dallas began the game with Curry checking Chandler Parsons, which led to numerous but often unsuccessful Parsons isolation plays on Seth. In a largely uneventful quarter, Noel made some impressive plays. From pulling up to shoot a mid-range jumper that turned into a bullet pass to Dorian Finney-Smith cutting baseline for a dunk, to blowing by Zach Randolph at the top of the key for an and-1, Nerlens looked great as a starter. With neither team able to gain much separation, Memphis finished the quarter up 22-20 on a Vince Carter three pointer over Dirk.
Unlike the opening frame, the second quarter started with a barrage of baskets from both teams led by a Z-Bo score off of an offensive rebound. Dallas followed this up with a Dirk jumper, and a Yogi Ferrell and-1 on Carter. Worth noting is that Yogi seems to be improving on changing speeds within the pick and roll. I know I’ve already gushed a lot about Nerlens, but he was the story of the quarter for Dallas. Continuing his active play, some highlights include a block on Chandler Parsons, a block on a Marc Gasol dunk attempt, an alley-oop from Seth, and a nice finish off of a Nicolas Brussino baseline assist. Behind Noel’s spirited 13 points 9 rebounds and 2 blocks half, and Curry’s 12 points on 5 of 7 shooting, Dallas entered the break with a 51-50 lead.
The second half opened with a Parsons make, followed up by a Harrison Barnes dunk on the break. While Noel continued to be active, Curry took control. We should really admire what he’s doing right now; the guy is in a zone. While Memphis looked out of sync, unable to get any good looks in rhythm, Seth turned a steal into a transition three point basket over Gasol, then followed that up with a hesitation-to-finger roll layup on Tony Allen of all people. Following a Noel two dribble drive and kick which led to another 3 points by Curry, Memphis made a conscious decision to go inside with Randolph and Gasol. While this helped Memphis end their scoring drought, Barnes came alive on the other end taking advantage of his half of the mismatch. Barnes ran Z-Bo off of screens, beat him off of the dribble and knocked in a pull-up three pointer as well. Despite a big scoring quarter from Raldolph, Dallas extended their lead to 79-72.
After back to back baskets by Z-Bo to bring the Grizzlies within three, Dallas went on a 9-0 run started by a Yogi drive and capped with a classic Dirk three point bomb from the top of the key to force a Memphis timeout. While Memphis kept the game from getting away from them behind the crafty brilliance of Mike Conley, Dallas continued to respond behind some big baskets by Yogi. After Memphis closed the gap to four behind nine straight Dallas misses, the Mavericks finished the game with some clutch free throw shooting. Dallas won 104-100.
6 Things + Bonus
- Seth Curry has been immensely impressive in his time as a starter. Despite being undersized, and not particularly quick by NBA standards, Curry excels with efficient movement and at using his defenders’ momentum against them. Unlike players who over-dribble or jab step incessantly, Curry rarely makes an unnecessary move; every movement serves a purpose. Going back to the point on momentum, Curry excels at taking one hard dribble forcing his defender to fully commit to a side shuffle, only to stop on a dime and pull up for a midrange jumper. It is beautiful offense.
- While I don’t expect Nerlens Noel to put up 15 points, 17 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 assists, and one steal every night, it feels great to have a young center with this much potential playing for the good guys. He was absolutely everywhere tonight, making his presence felt on both ends of the floor. For as long as I can remember, Memphis would kill Dallas on the boards behind the play of Gasol and Randolph. Tonight? Noel single handedly out-rebounded the Grit and Grind duo 17-16, and led the Mavs to winning the overall rebounding battle 45-39.
- If I told you before the game that the Dallas starters would respectively score 24, 18, 17, 15, and 10 points, would you have believed that Dirk would be the low scorer? Me neither, but I for one am thrilled. While this is merely a single game, having other players capable of carrying the scoring load is long overdue in Dallas.
- Dear broadcast crews: you are no longer allowed to refer to the highest paid player in the NBA (Mike Conley) an underrated player. Highest paid, and underrated are oxymorons.
- While not-underrated Mike Conley had himself a game with 30 points and 4 assists, our own Yogi Ferrell showed himself to be deserving of his rookie of the month award with 17 points and 5 assists, shooting 50% from the field. While I stand by my statement that Deron Williams is today, a better player than Yogi, I may have to change my tune if Yogi masters playing at various speeds and mixing things up in the pick and roll.
- We had another American Airlines Center proposal. Congratulations Taylor and fiancee!