On a Halloween Sunday, the Mavericks pushed aside the demons raised by the lack of late execution against the Grizzlies on Friday night and coasted to a 99-83 victory over the winless Clippers in LA.
Let's break down our First Impression thoughts as the Mavs
moved to 2-1 …
Though Caron Butler led all scorers with 17 points, this
was a game defined by the play from the center position … in particular
of Brendan Haywood and Tyson Chandler. Continuing to live via either
feast or famine at the offensive end with their centers, Sunday, Dallas
saw them feast.
Left to gather their baskets solely by alley-oop or with
offensive rebounds, Haywood and Chandler took to both and finished at
the rim or earned trips to the free-throw line to total 18 points, 11
rebounds and three blocks between them.
Haywood, in particular, stood out with his most energetic
and impactful performance of this young season, including a two-minute
stretch in the second quarter that saw him convert three offensive
boards into powerful dunks. He finished with 10 points, six rebounds
(four of which were offensive) and three blocks.
As Fish pointed out on the FS Southwest "Mavs Live''
postgame show (nick pocket square, Boss!), starter Chandler and backup
Big Wood both went to the floor for loose balls – a sign of aggression
that coaches have been begging for.
The Mavs again opened strong and won the first quarter by
four, 27-23, behind the aggressiveness of Caron Butler, who scored nine
in the opening frame and continuously attacked the rim … including the
addition of a pretty alley-oop that Chandler dunked home.
Butler finished the game with 17 points on only 10 shot attempts
and reaped the benefits of his aggressive play by earning 10 free-throw
attempts, making eight. He was one of six Mavs to finish in
double-digits scoring, along with: Dirk (16), Jason Terry (15 points
and five assists), Jason Kidd (13 points, nine rebounds and seven
assists), Shawn Marion (12) and Haywood (10).
However, the first quarter was marred by a rash of late
turnovers, mirroring the breakdowns that ended their previous game, and
four consecutive misses from the free-throw line.
The second quarter saw the Mavs bench again have some level of a
letdown as a group, which allowed the Clippers to flirt with the lead;
a lead they would have held if not for a 65-foot heave from Jason Kidd
as the clock expired on the first half that swished through the hoop
with nothing but net … and left the Mavs up by two going into the half.
Jason Terry also did his part to bring the second quarter
back from the brink with a quick six consecutive points for the Mavs,
all in transition.
In the third quarter Dallas put the game away, outscoring
the Clippers by 10 and never allowing them to make a game of it again.
Down 11 in the fourth, the Clippers saw any lingering
hopes crushed by another Haywood offensive board followed by a
conversion on a quick hook-shot attempt while drawing a foul. Though
Haywood would miss the free throw, Blake Griffin was handed a technical
foul on the play that Dirk Nowitzki converted … essentially turning a
miss into a three-point play and putting the Mavs back up by 14, 95-81.
In need of a bounce-back performance after what Dirk
called a "bad, terrible loss" to the Grizzlies, the Mavs earned just
that … taking their treat at the expense of the winless Clippers.
*In an odd twist, Dirk Nowitzki shot only 50 percent from
the free-throw line a game after ending his streak of 82 consecutive
makes. He finished 2-4 from the line.
*Again, when looking at the plus/minus stats, the Dallas
bench as a whole failed to live up to its responsibilities. All five
starters either had a plus/minus of +20 or +21. Only one bench player
managed to end on the positive end of the spectrum: Dominique Jones
with a +1.
That said, this stat is somewhat deceiving in its failure
to chart the outstanding performances of Shawn Marion (12 points, two
rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block) and Brendan Haywood.
Both players were instrumental to the victory.
*Speaking of Haywood, this was easily his most active
performance of the season … and by no surprise, his most impactful. He
was a force on the offensive glass, collecting four offensive boards
and efficiently turning them into eight points.
*Once again, turnovers were an issue. Though their team
total, 14, isn't outrageously poor, they lead to 16 easy points for the
Clippers and kept the game closer than it needed to be in the first
The primary issue remains sloppy or poorly conceived
passing. At times, it's hard to shake the feeling of watching a team
still learning to play together. This may be justifiable to some
degree, but must work itself out in the not too distant future if
several more wins are to not be sacrificed … such as the Memphis game
*Mentioned in the summary, Mavs' centers are only seeing
the ball in one of three circumstances. One, an alley-oop. Two,
offensive rebounds. Three, at the top of the key simply to initiate a
play by handing of to a curling wing or guard.
This made sense when Erick Dampier was manning the
position, and can be accepted with Tyson Chandler, who isn't known for
a strong back-to-the-basket game. But, it also seems to remove what
could be a powerful offensive weapon by denying Haywood attempts from
the block. He's not a star there, but he's proven to have enough of an
inside game to justify its occasional use.
In three games, I only remember one post up attempt by a
Mavs center and it came late in the fourth quarter against the
Clippers. It doesn't need to be a key to their attack, but could serve
as a pleasant change of pace at times that may offer other benefits …
such as a little extra motivation for Haywood to do the dirty work
(defense and rebounding) he's being relied upon to do.
*Strange Technical Foul: Maybe this is just me, but I have
a hard time accepting the technical called on Caron Butler for yelling
"two shots'' after making a shot after a tough foul. He didn't get in a
players face or seem to be showing up the officials. Rather, it
appeared to be a pretty standard celebration after a tough play.
*Going back to Butler for a moment, above his aggressive
play is mentioned from early in the game. When noting this, you must
also note that most of his forays into the paint came in the first
quarter. After that, he settled for jump shots a little too often. You
don't want to take one of his skills away, as he has had a strong
jumper through most of his career, but he's at his best when he's
consistently mixing attacks on the rim into his attack.
For example, he found himself just inside the 3-point line
with Chris Kaman defending him and settled for a jump shot. With only
the slow-footed Kaman between him and the rim, he needs to do what
Marion later did … attack and finish at the rim.
That said, Butler has done much better this season at
mixing his offensive approach and including drives fairly consistently.
*By holding the Clippers to 34.1 percent shooting from the
floor, the Mavericks continued an impressive streak to start the
season: they've yet to allow a team to finish a game shooting at or
above 40 percent on their field-goal attempts.
First Impressions: Mavs Coast To 99-83 Win
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