First Impressions: Mavs Coast To 99-83 Win

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.

   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.

 Assorted Notes:

   *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 half.

   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 was.

   *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.


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