Mavs Access: Afterburners Vs. Afterthoughts
FOREWARD: For Dallas Mavericks followers, there is no escape.
There is no denying, no hiding from, and no chance of cracking your eyelids apart without being bombarded. Relying on ESPN, or their sister network ABC in this case, your attention is not allowed to wander. If you tuned in ABC to watch Jeremy Lin take on some nameless stack of tall laundry, you were rewarded handsomely.
Regardless of any opinion on the hype, the Dallas Mavericks could not handle Lin on the court, as he continued his amazing run with 28 points, 14 assists, five steals and seven turnovers … oh, and some guy named Dirk Nowitzki scored 34 points, but will likely remember none of them in the wake of a non-call with 16.9 seconds to the play that sealed the loss.
The six-game winning streak is over as Dallas falls 104-97 to the New York Lins.
THE GREAT WASHED UP ONE: Hopefully, we've all seen enough to dismiss the notion that Dirk Nowitzki has been trampled by Father Time, that he's nothing more than an aged whale washed up on the shore of retirement.
Against the Knicks, the story won't be what Dirk was able to do, it'll be buried in the praise of Lin. There's already a highlight making the rounds that puts that notion is a neat frame. ...
Considering the outcome of the game, perhaps that's a fair telling of this contest's story … though it's also a shallow take.
Nowitzki finished with 34 points, hitting 11-of-20 shots, including 4-of-5 from 3-point distance, five rebounds, three assists and two steals. He did more than his fair share of the heavy lifting, but saw his team fall short. Oh, and he did it all with a hyperextended knee.
"(Amare) clipped my right leg,'' Dirk said of third-quarter play, "but I kept on the drive and my left leg actually buckled on it so I hyperextended it a little. It loosened up after that and I was able to finish the game.''
As for that single shot-that-never-came he'll likely remember above all those that did, it slipped away with 16.9 seconds to play. Dirk caught the ball near the corner, pumped Jared Jeffries into the air, drawing his fair share of contact … only Lin stripped the ball away and the whistle that Dirk clearly expected – as did the rest of the players on the court, who all stopped for a few seconds – never came.
Historical side note: Dirk is now six points from tying Robert Parish for 20th on the NBA's All-Time Scoring List, seven from surpassing him.
Father Time side note: He needed to get to 30 points today to move his season average to the pretty-darn-All-Star-worthy 19 points per game average. Done.
JET RETURNS, BUT ...: Jason Terry returned after missing the last two games, one with a quad issue and the other due to personal reasons; only it was JR Smith who donned his wings. With Dirk hitting his shots, capably shouldering the offensive load when it was handed to him, the Mavs needed someone else to step up beside him in the scoring department.
Shawn Marion did his part, scoring 14 points on 6-of-11 attempts (not to mention seven rebounds, two assists and two steals), but Jason Terry and the Mavs bench could not offer adequate support.
Terry finished with 13 of Dallas's 23 bench-points, but did so with poor efficiency and an even poorer shot selection. Of the 13 attempts taken to gather those 13 points, 10 came from behind the 3-point line for Terry, where he made only three. While true that some of these attempts came in desperation in the game's final moments, it doesn't mask the fact that JET settled far more than he attacked.
Perhaps this is nothing more than a lingering effect of the quad issue that kept him out of Wednesday's matchup with the Denver Nuggets, or is somehow related to the personal issues that held him from Friday's game against the 76ers, but the Mavs need more from Terry.
We feel confident in saying that he will very rarely have a strong positive impact on offense when taking 76.9 percent of his shot attempts behind the arc.
Unfortunately, Terry's struggling on the road has become a trend. Prior to Sunday's game against the Knicks, let's compare Terry's "Home" and "Road" numbers.
Home: 17.1 points, 51.5 FG%, 44.2 3PT% in 16 games
Road: 11.9 points, 32.7 FG%, 31.3 3PT% in 13 games
That's an alarming trend for a player who has seen only a minimal decrease on the road over the course of his career, and a primary factor in why the Mavs are 12-5 at home this season and 8-7 on the road.
For Dallas to find success away from home, Jason Terry cannot have two players on the opposing bench outperform him. Steve Novak – yes, that Steve Novak – finished with 14 points (all in the fourth quarter, generally known as Jet's time). Beside him, JR Smith was playing his first game back in the NBA after a stint in China, and scored 15 points, though he needed 16 shots to get there.
Novak -- or "Novakaine,'' as he is for the moment almost as worthy as "Linsanity'' of punny praise -- was so feelin' it against a Mavs team he once sat the bench for that he Discount-Double-Checked it, Aaron Rodgers-style, after a big trey:
In fairness, in the last decade, Mavs practices have seen breath-taking 3-point work from the likes of Dirk, Peja and Novak, all of them on a similar level. But it's all he can do ... and how is it possible that the Mavs forgot that?
BENCH WOES?: Those who watched the game likely aren't aiming their frustration at Terry. They're saving them for another player who followed up a couple of nice performances in the last three contests to have what may have been his worst performance in a Mavs uniform.
Lamar Odom showed some promise early, and another glimpse of the newfound hustle present in recent games, when he streaked up the court, caught a nice lead pass from Dirk and finished at the rim. From that moment on, he may have been the worst player on the court for either team.
The wheels may have begun to wobble in the final seconds of the third quarter, when point-forward Odom was given the ball to advance it from the backcourt. As he attempted to dribble behind his back, the ball stuck to his hip and he briefly lost control, proceeded to lackadaisically retrieve it from the ground to keep it from a Knick defender, stood up and threw a lazy pass the full width of the court and then watched as Jeremy Lin easily intercepted it and raced in for the dunk … capping a 7-0 run New York closed the quarter with, and pushing the crowd into a frenzy.
Above we offer the Lin-beats-Dirk frame that will hang above a million New Yorkers' fireplaces. Here is the frame that leans against a million trash cans in a million North Texans' alleys:
In the fourth quarter, LamLam's defensive rotations were haphazard, appearing to stray from the design of the defense, and when Novak put the ball on the court and easily glided around Odom (we should never have to type that) the wheels had officially fallen off. That play capped a stretch that saw Odom wander aimlessly away from Novak in the corner, leading to an uncontested, made 3-pointer, followed by Odom attempting a 3-pointer of his own that fell several feet short of the rim … and finally, Novak dribbling around him to hit a jumper.
In a flash, we'd seen poor offense, questionable hustle, and horrible defense … and a dam of fan frustration shattered, unleashing a tidal wave of Twitter fury upon the former Lakers standout.
Odom isn't supposed to be the ninth or 10th best player on this team. He spent a career setting expectations that are not being met in Dallas … and in one moment, many who had pledged patience found that stance impossible to sustain.
Players aren't the same as fans and teammates aren't the same as Twitterers. But do we think that L.O.'s loopy work sucked the wind out of the Mavs' late-game sails?
Yes, we do.
There's still time, still hope that Odom can find his way from the doldrums swallowing his 2011-12 season … but it's becoming slim, embraced by fewer and fewer.
There's still time … until there isn't.
We'd be remiss if we didn't mention that there's still time before the trade deadline, too.
MY DINNER WITH TY: -- Dirk Nowitzki playing against Tyson Chandler?
"It was weird,'' said Nowitzki. "We had dinner last night, and it was great seeing him. ... Obviously we miss him. He's a great guy, a great locker room guy and just a warrior.''
Chandler finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in 35 minutes. Only near the end of the game did he focus much on guarding Dirk, otherwise assigned to rim-protection in D'Antoni's risk-taking defensive scheme.
Tyson did centerpiece the Knicks' second-chance opportunities, and NY got those in the form of 40 rebounds (to Dallas' 41) and to 44 points in the paint (topping Dallas' 36). And we were disappointed that no Dallas center really rised to challenge him.
Brendan Haywood and Brandan Wright combined for 14 points, but a little scoring isn't really the issue here. Those two guys managed only seven combined rebounds in 47 minutes … and Ian Mahinmi didn't play at all, his contributions being limited to his pregame "The Ianimal'' yell.
The Knicks are not a physical enough team to be winning interior battles … except this once.
TY by the way, really did assume he'd remain a Mav last fall, right to the end.
"I honestly didn't believe that I wasn't coming back until I put ink to paper,'' he said. "My agent told me, 'I don't think you'll be going back to the Mavericks.'
"I was like, he's been right every other time in my career, but he's wrong this time. There was no way I wasn't going back."
Then came the 3D Blueprint in Dallas and the Knicks' offer of four years and between $50 and $60 million.
Even though he's gone, he's a MFFL of sorts.
"He helped us win a championship and he's part of the family for the rest of our lives,'' Nowitzki said. "It's going to be great when he comes to Dallas (on Mar. 6) and receive his ring.''
MAVSELLANEOUS: Beneath the Jeremy Lin story and the dominance of Dirk, Jason Kidd quietly collected three more steals. This is significant as it ties him with Michael Jordan for the second most in NBA history (2,514). He's still over 700 hundred from catching the league's all-time leader, John Stockton, but it's another accomplishment in Kidd's storied career. ... In a tribute to LeBron, new Knick JR Smith has shaved a receding hairline into the middle of his hair. ... Lin cannot dribble with purpose to his left, and we remain astounded that DoJo and Jet (and to a lesser degree, stopper Trix) failed to play him that way ... Sunday's crowd included Kevin Costner, Eva Longoria, Spike Lee and Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg. Meanwhile, the Winklevoss Twins are in the 300 section over at the Nets game. ... Lin? We love the story, love the kid, like the player - that's been the case since summer 2010 -- and we hate the hyperbole. ... We're not saying ABC's Knicks-Mavs coverage largely ignored the defending world champs, but The World's Worst Drinking Game calls for you to chug one every time the network bothered mentioning the "other team.''
ZEBRA STRIPES: That late Dirk non-call. The weird flagrant call on Jet against Lin, in which Lin was treated like he was a fragile combination of Dwyane Wade's shoulder and Peyton Manning's neck?
Even Carlisle termed the flagrant a turning point, and even Lin agreed is wasn't much of a foul.
But you know our policy on this. Hey, keep the other team from scoring 104, then pop off, you know?
WE KEPT WAITING ... : For Kidd's control to overtake Lin's control. It never happened, as the two teams each committed 19 turnovers.
That's a New York victory. It's simple basketball math.
Jason Kidd had five turnovers and four assists. That's a violation of his long-standing ratio-related formula for success. Yes, Lin is a phenom, but we anticipated Kidd making that one smart play to win the game, and instead ...
''He looks a little bit like Steve Nash out there,'' said Kidd of Lin, good for 28 points, 14 assists and four rebounds. ... And therefore it would've helped had Jason Kidd looked a little more like Jason Kidd.
THE FINAL WORD: There may have been some calls that left a sour taste in the mouths of Mavs fans, but this is not a game to hang on the officiating. This was a case of Dallas failing to grasp the opportunities presented to them, or rather, handling them too loosely.
After the intermission, Dirk entered the third quarter at a gallop, hitting all four of his shot attempts, including a 4-point play after the near-invisible Amar'e Stoudemire fouled him on a 3-point make, outscoring the Knicks single-handedly 13-12 at that point. Dallas pushed their lead to as much as 12.
Dirk went to the bench, and watched as the Knicks closed the quarter on a 7-0 run, closing the gap to three and bringing life back to the crowd he had all but silenced. This came in large part due to casual play and turnovers, which the Mavs had 11 of in the second half (19 for the game, leading to 24 points for the Knicks).
Vince Carter was not on point, a rarity for him this season, and the offense began to skid when not filtered through Dirk's hands … and those not named Jason Kidd continued in their struggles to find a way to deliver the ball to their most potent offensive weapon. Yet, despite all that didn't quite work, the Mavs had a chance to tie the game in the final minute, had Jason Terry's open 3-point try found its mark with 33.9 seconds remaining.
Try to remember the impressiveness of the Mavs SIX-game winning streak while attempting to silence the haunts of this loss … and Dallas must move on with Boston coming to the AAC Monday night before their final game prior to the All-Star break against the Lakers on Wednesday.
This one got away, but it can't turn into the next two doing so as well.