Mavs Power Points: Tyson Up, Clutch Down
The Dallas Mavericks' 109-106 loss Sunday at New Orleans is overstuffed with storylines. Let's begin with the highlight reel .. and then the stomach-churning roller coaster that was Tyson Chandler's night.
TY scared Mavs faithful everywhere when his collision with Anthony Davis caused him to crumble to the ground in the third quarter. He needed plenty of help to get to the bench, and then to the locker room, and then off to the X-ray room went the Dallas defensive, rebounding and inspirational boss.
Oddly, though, his absence led to inspiration because when he returned (after X-rays cleared the Dallas center), the Mavs' upbeat mood was tangible.
Chandler returned early in the fourth quarter, pounded home a dunk, was part of a comeback that featured lots of on-the-hardwood scrambling from him and his mates, finished the game ...
But the stomach-churning roller coaster continued on, with TY being called for a ticky-tacky foul in the final seconds, allowing Davis to go to the line to contribute to a New Orleans win.
"The difference in the game was whistles,'' said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, and while his "laser focus'' (another of Rick's favorite slogans) was on that poor call against Chandler, the truth is, Dallas did plenty on its own to lose a second straight game.
The good news is that while TY's injury situation will be monitored very closely in the coming days, this loss could've been far more painful. It's no secret that Chandler is the team's best overall defender and by far the best rebounder, the latter an area that the team as a whole are struggling mightily, to say the least. The Mavs are last in the NBA over the last 30 days in rebounding. The Pelicans, are No. 1. To Dallas' credit, it didn't get pounded on the boards here, losing just 40-38. (The team's in-house, private conversation was all about increased effort in this department, and with Rondo totaling eight, Powell totaling six and Monta totaling five, they deserve credit here.)
If the situation in this category is to improve going forward, you have to guess Tyson Chandler will be a big part of it. But being cautious with the veteran is also important because he's a key piece for this team long-term.
“Yeah, it looked ugly,” said Dirk Nowitzki. “At first I thought he might have rolled his ankle and then he said it was his knee. So I was obviously worried that he’s gone for a while. Then they came back and said he just bruised it. So that was probably the best news of the night.”
So again, we celebrate his return and will continue to monitor as the 30-15 Mavs move forward for the Tuesday/Wednesday back-to-back against the Grizz and Rockets.
Monta Ellis had a superb game, finishing with 36 points, five rebounds, a couple of assists, and a steal. Ellis also showed up big-time down the stretch, converting on Jordan-esque layups and 3-pointers and everything in between.
"Breathtaking,'' Carlisle termed Monta's work.
However, it may have been Ellis' dominant game that indirectly impacted negatively on the outcome. How so? Consider: Monta's having a monster game. He is widely regarded as a top closer in the league. So Carlisle draws up an end-game inbounds designed to to throw the ball to him with 12 seconds left. The problem? All of America (except those making the error of watching the Pro Bowl) knew what was coming as well.
And Dallas actually did it twice, and failed twice, first with the otherwise invisible Chandler Parsons throwing it in (New Orleans crowded Monta and deflected CP's pass out of bounds) and then on a second inbounds, when Rondo was the triggerman and the lone target -- Monta, again -- was harassed by a couple of Pelicans, forcing an ill-fated lob to Dirk, who would've had to out-jump Davis to even touch it.
We've done a great deal of analytical work on Dallas' first half-season in crunch time. In general, the Mavs crunch-time failure in the Friday loss to Chicago and here are uncharacteristic. But here ... Why didn't Monta sprint to the backcourt for a reception? Why didn't Rick design an inbounds play that featured a second receiver? What was the sense of changing triggermen?
It's on me,'' Rick said of the entire inbounds mess. "My responsibility.''
A lot of times, when a coach says this, he's being valiant. Not here. Coach Carlisle is truth-telling.
Not that Rajon Rondo ever went anywhere, but he was back in the lineup late to try and close out the game. ... something that, controversially, wasn't the case in the Chicago loss. (Rick, by the way, conceded earlier on Sunday that his judgment there was errant.)
Rondo offered up a fine all-around game as he was just a couple of rebounds and an assist away from a triple-double. Rondo finished an efficient shooting night with 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting, eight rebounds, nine assists, and a couple of steals.
And the "aberration'' of him sitting the final minutes of a close game needs to remain just that.
Every starter played at least 30 minutes and everybody on the bench logged at least 12 minutes. Monta led the way with 35 minutes. Right behind him was Rondo at 34 minutes and Dirk Nowitzki (who will regret not having nailed a couple of trey chances that would've iced it) and Tyson followed that with 33 minutes played by each.
Parsons played the least of the starters at 30 minutes and we're being kind to reiterate that had a pretty tough night, tallying just six points, no assists and a lone rebound.
It's rather incredible that the Mavs were in this game to the last possession considering they were outplayed in the three major statistical categories. The Pelicans shot 50.6 percent to the Mavs' 48.1 percent, including 47.1 percent from deep to the Mavs' 37.5 percent from beyond the arc. The Pelicans also shot 84 percent from the line to the Mavs' 76 percent, an important difference because the kid Davis (28 points, 10 rebounds, one block, three assists and five steals) was asked to close this out for the Pels and did so at the line with four clutch makes, capping his 12-of-14 effort from the line.
More numbers? Dallas had won its previous nine meetings with New Orleans, but these Pelicans are somewhat different as they are 14-5 at home. It didn't happen here, but it's coming: Carlisle has a career record of 599-413, so he remains just one short of 600 career regular-season coaching victories.
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If, somehow, the Mavs win that one-possession home game on Friday and then win this one-possession road game against the .500 Pels, Dallas would find itself in a virtual tie for second in the battlefield of the Western Conference.
Instead, two losses later, as we write this, the Mavs has tumbled to the No. 6 slot.
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“It was a hard-fought game. They made some plays and won the game. They double-teamed me (on the inbounds) and we didn’t have another timeout, so we were just trying to get the ball in. ... It’s not on anyone. It’s a team thing. As players, you got to know as well that you can get in the backcourt.”
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