Saturday, February 5, 2011


On Friday night for the Dallas Mavericks, it was the same-old, same-old. Being out-worked be a supposedly more physical team. Defense seemingly not in the cards. Dirk Nowitzki putting the team on his back with his teammates floundering down the stretch. Another big game in the spotlight with a national TV audience to laugh at the Mavericks and think "Yep, this is another first-round exit, soft team."

And really I couldn't get over how horrendous things were going for Mavericks not named Dirk and Tyson Chandler. After the Celtics took a six point lead with a little over three minutes to go on a ludicrously left-open Ray Allen (I remember screaming "WHAT KIND OF F***ING DEFENSE IS THAT?! THE "LEAVE RAY ALLEN OPEN" DEFENSE?!") I started to get my depression filled night of Maverick sorrow all ready. Things changed, however. The Celtics started rushing shots (Ray Allen's quick trigger on a three under a minute to go was really, really surprising for a veteran like himself) and the Mavericks, well did the same if it wasn't Dirk. Jason Terry and DeShawn Stevenson looked completely panicked with their last attempts from the field, and luckily Terry was able to cool his jets (pardon the pun) to knock down two free throws to get the Mavericks within one after two appalling shots from himself and Stevenson.

The ensuing offensive possession was a tad surprising -- A pick and roll with Rondo and Garnett, with Garnett popping out on the pick instead of rolling towards the basket. If you've watched any close Celtic game in the last three years, you know the clinching play is either Ray Allen curling to the baseline for a corner three, or Paul Pierce operating at the free throw line, looking to knock down his patented elbow jumper. Neither happened and while Garnett was relatively open, he was a bit outside his range, very close to the three-point line. The jumper rattled in and out, and the Mavericks were given life yet again.

The play that ensued was sheer beauty.

Running off "interference" from Tyson Chandler and Shawn Marion (I say that because they weren't setting picks, persay, but Terry did use them to try and shed Rondo to a degree) Terry then curled of a Dirk screen that blew up Rajon Rando. Garnett was forced to step out on Terry leaving Dirk completely open for a short midrange jumper which he could have taken immediately or worked the clock a second or two more and shot over Rondo or accepted the double team. But Terry's pass was directed straight into Dirk's shins thanks to Garnett's ability to bother Terry on the catch. Dirk was able to gather and was swarmed by Rondo, Perkins and Allen. Garnett stayed with Terry and Pierce was able to both stay with Marion and Chandler as they were both on the weak side. With Marion not being a threat at all to shoot the corner jumper, he primarily stayed with Chandler to prevent an easy drop down pass from Dirk. What surprises me is Allen leaving Kidd. Rondo and Perkins already had decent position to double Dirk and prevent any easy outlets. Dirk, somehow, was able to keep his composure on the wild pass and found Kidd open at the top of the key. The rest, as you say, is history as Kidd calmly shook Allen off as he tried to run him off the three point line and then knocked down the game winner.

Jason Kidd was 3-for-9 and 1-for-4 from three before that shot. Remarkable, also considering that while it may seem like an easy, open shot (not regarding the stressful conditions of the shot) anyone who has ever played basketball will tell you that shooting a three-pointer (or any long jumper) is increasingly harder after having already stepped into the shooting motion and pump faking. The fake throws you out of your rhythm and unless you want to hit a two, you can't step into the shot with an escape dribble. Your balance is all off and the entire motion of taking the shot is different and more awkward than a simple catch and release. Bravo, Kidd.

I realize this is still regular season game, before the All-Star break, but you can't help but get chills after a game like this. This is still a different Maverick team and while the steady play of Dirk, Terry, Kidd and Marion are nothing new, Tyson Chandler is quietly becoming the best off-season acquisition this side of Miami and New York. It's hard not to notice, but Tyson Chandler is completely eradicating the Erick Dampier Era, averaging a double-double since January and putting up 15 and 10 last night. He's a true difference-maker in every sense of the phrase, and much more deserving of an entire post rather than this measly paragraph. Watch Chandler closely at the end of the clip right after Kidd's three splashes down. I've never seen Erick Dampier jump or be as excited as that. It's a joy and a pleasure to watch.

And what more can I say of Dirk Nowitzki, whose 21 of a game-high 29 points came in the second half, against what is regarded the best defense in the NBA? I've been in agreement with others that we shouldn't rush to arms and declare Dirk being back to his first team All-NBA self, but it's hard to argue with the results we've seen the last week. It's a shame I have to bring up his dreadful rebounding numbers (four on Friday is not acceptable) but considering he finally grabbed an offensive rebound, Chandler and Marion had a double figuring rebounding nights and he carried the team throughout the third and fourth quarters, I'll give him a break.

There are still some concerns of course. Before the final three minutes of the fourth quarter, Dallas' defense wasn't anything to write home about. The rebounding can still get better. J.J. Barea finally touched his feet to the ground after spending a week or so in basketball heaven. But this is still without Caron Butler's 15 points and five rebounds every game. It's still a shame we probably won't ever see this team with Butler and Roddy Beaubois fully healthy, but right now, it was nice to see the Mavericks rise up when the nation is watching.

(If you want to laugh or indulge in seeing the other side, check out CelticsHub, CelticsBlog and RedsArmy game recaps and read the comments section. Don't be a troll, but it is amusing to see BOSTON fans complain about foul calls.)


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  1. The team still needs a another wing player or legit SG, but damn was that not one of the most satisfying wins in a while even with all bad shot's taken near the end. The Mavs should not be taken lightly, Dirk pushes this squad into at least a tough challenge for any team in this league. There are still holes, but it's good to see them fighting and looking reinvigorated again.

  2. Thank God the NBA doesn't call traveling violations, Kidd definitely picked up both feet on that shot. Still a great shot, and no complaints about the no call.