Mavs Donuts: Kings, Nugs + A Scheduled Loss
When the end of the regular season comes and we start to count all of our eggs nobody will remember the specifics of an ugly late-night victory in Sacramento on January 14th. It’ll simply be win number 27 and a lead into what should be a Dallas Mavericks scheduled loss in Denver tonight. Nobody will remember that Rudy Gay exited the game early or the Kings won the rebounding battle by 15 or that despite the Mavericks turning 20 Kings turnovers into 27 points they needed to scratch and claw and rely on a Rajon Rondo prayer three to win. That’s why we do this. There’s entirely too much to discuss in this Mavericks 108-104 overtime victory against the Kings.
I’ve never felt weirder about a double-digit comeback win. ... and the weirdness continues tonight, with Dallas hoping to win at Denver with Rondo (heel), Tyson (ankle) and Dirk (rest) all off ... and with Raymond Felton starting.
The Mavericks don’t lose three games in a row. Like ever. Well, not ever, but how’s once in the last 145 regular-season games work for you? In fact this is the second time this season that the Mavericks have fought into overtime to avoid a three-game skid and succeeded. I had no fear heading into this game that the Mavs would take care of business not only because of that trend but also because they had played 1 game in the last 6 days prior to squaring off with the Kings.
Little did we know Boogie and the Kings had other plans.
Let’s start where the game started, with Chandler Parsons.
For as much as I adored his first-half effort, I despised his second-half in equal measure. I’m frankly tired of talking about this but it just won’t go away. Until Chandler stops Josh Howard-ing I’ll be forced to make note of his offensive chunks of radio silence.
The Mavericks started the game with a Rondo dribble penetration kick out to Parsons three that fell short but the offensive board eventually found its way back into Parsons’ hands and he drilled the second attempt. After the early make you could tell that CP was feeling frisky as he attacked the basket thrice in the first four minutes and came away with seven points before the early substitutions were at the scorer’s table.
In the second quarter the microwave was still plugged in as Parsons subbed in at the 7:19 and got cooking scoring on layups on two of his first three possessions. The rest of the game he took two shots from within five feet of the basket while turning the ball over three times and getting absolutely sonned by Carl Landry on multiple possessions (Landry went 7/10 on the night).
A large portion of what I’ll be writing about stems back to one problem; the Mavericks lack of a backup center. The Chandler-Parsons-defending-power-forwards problem is loosely tied to the lack of a backup center. Parsons is playing 24% of the team's minutes at power forward and he’s averaging minus-4.5 rebounds per 48 minutes compared to his power-forward counterpart. He’s also allowing opposing power forwards to contribute at a 16.1 PER clip which isn’t terrible until you realize he’s typically guarding the other team’s second-team power forward.
As for the second-half issues, here are some numbers that you don’t really want to see about our little buddy CP. In his last six games Parsons is scoring 3.2 points per game, shooting 26.9% overall and 25% from three in second halves. Oh, and a fun 33% from the free-throw line as a cherry on top. I mean, what the hell? As you well know I don’t just present problems on this forum. No, I typically apply a solution to said problem. My primary elixir for curing Chandler Parsons' current problems is to stop shooting corner threes ….altogether. Parsons is shooting 27.5% on corner threes on the season compared to the league average of 42.5%, thus making it the most lethal shot in basketball. But not for Chandler.
After the Mavs scored their 20th point off of a Monta steal and then three-ball I was damn sure the Mavericks were going to score 400 points in this game. What happened immediately after that was Devin Harris and Richard Jefferson checked into the game for Dirk and Rondo.
Minutes later Greg Smith checked in for Tyson Chandler. The Kings then went on a 20-9 run highlighted by five different DeMarcus Cousins baskets and the Mavs trailed heading into the second quarter 33-29 (Sacramento shot 70% in the first quarter). Here’s where I’m going to talk specifically about the Mavericks' lack of a backup center. The lack of a backup center is a vampire upon this team currently. It’s such a problem that I’ve started splitting the season into different quadrants; pre-Rondo, post-Rondo, pre-”fill in the name of the backup center”, post-”fill in the name of the backup center”.
I don’t want to specifically pick on Greg Smith because this is not his fault (his 12.4% rebound percentage is, but I’ll stop). He shouldn’t be asked to play backup-center minutes in the NBA. The backup big on an NBA team has to have a definable skill and they’re usually rebounding/defense and on a rare occasion they’re offensively-skilled. I applaud the Mavericks for constantly winning games in which their deck is shorthanded from the word go. They’re operating without a backup center. It’s pretty amazing that they’ve improved their record while waiting on Jermaine O’Neal or whomever to join the roster. They should be supremely motivated to fix that spot before it kills Tyson Chandler or they start leaking wins.
Rebounds are for losers.
Once again the Mavericks got clobbered over the head in the rebounding category, losing the battle of the boards by 15. The Mavericks have been outrebounded by ten or more boards in 11 games this season. They are 9-2 in those games. I have no explanation for how this works. None. The Kings totaled 59 rebounds, making that only the 12th time a team has reached that number of rebounds this season (granted it was an overtime game). The Mavericks have been the victim on 3 of those occasions. Surprisingly, most of the Mavericks rebounding numbers aren’t atrocious but the one outlier is offensive rebounds allowed per game. They’re currently 29th of 30 teams in terms of how many offensive boards they allow per game with 12.2.
Things I’ll offer Jermaine to come play for the Mavericks:
-internet/text friendship (don’t expect to show up places and hang)
-one copy of "Smokin Aces'' on DVD
-A Juan Gonzalez autographed bat that has been in my car for 2+ years
-one Super Soaker 3000 with backpack -respect/handshake
I assumed that Rajon Rondo’s three-point attempt as the shot clock was expiring with 1:14 left in overtime was going to do anything but go in the basket. If it would have exploded into 100 tiny bats mid-air I would have been like “Yeah, could have seen that coming”. My gosh, what a shot.
That wild-assed heave put the Mavs up 104-102 and launched them out of a rut that they lived in for the first three-and-a-half minutes of overtime as they hadn’t yet scored. This next statement will be shocking to you but here goes; I feel like Rondo shot too much last night. Sixteen shots is about five too many for my man Rajon. That’s all the negative. Here’s the positive. I think we saw the future of what the Mavericks offense can be in that first quarter in which Rajon Rondo looked like he was reading the matrix while everybody else was looking at pop-up books. The spacing that Rondo was creating was opening up all kinds of passing lanes for him and for the hockey assist which he might have had about 10 in the quarter. The second quarter looks better in the box score because Rondo dropped 12 points and 3 assists but I was more pleased with his first frame.
Think I’m going to start a Facebook group for Rajon to only shoot layups if they’re that insane right-handed-reverse-scoop thing that he’s been working. According to me he’s 100% on such layups.
One of the main reasons the Mavericks never pulled away from the Kings despite everyone wondering when they would fold was that the Mavericks bench scored 15 points on 5 of 24 shooting and 1 of 11 on threes. The Mavericks average 35 bench points per game so to say they fell a little short would be an understatement. The fun part is they pulled down an embarrassing 7 rebounds in 67+ minutes of play. At the end of the first quarter I was sitting there thinking what exactly other teams feared with the group of Harris-Monta-Jefferson-Charlie V-Greg Smith on the floor and why everybody seems to have a full-on green light to launch mess at the basket whenever they feel necessary. Talking to you, Charlie.
Tyson Chandler took numerous shots directly to the chin but still had enough willpower to sink the final two free throws necessary to send the game to overtime. Chandler finished with 16 points and 17 boards for his 16th double double of the season and what was really one of his grittier performances of the season. We’ll see what the lasting effects of a giant bear rolling over his ankle are tonight and if he can even participate against the Nuggets.
Let's also see just how vicious one of those chin shots was:
The Monta iso possession that ended regulation was the absolute worst. There was 21.7 seconds left on the clock and he decided to dribble the air out of the ball for a pull-up 20-foot jumper. I can’t express how much that annoys me.
Now to the Kings.
It felt like at the beginning of the fourth quarter the Kings were begging for the Mavs to put them to sleep. Ty Corbin worked up a lineup of Darren Collison-Ray McCollum-Nic Stauskas-Jason Thompson-Carl Landry. That doesn’t scare anyone. Then, Boogie came back in. I know there’s maybe nobody else in the league that has the unique skill and size of Cousins but I have to admit I did start to worry about Tyson Chandler just a little bit while it felt like he was helpless to stop Boogie from doing whatever he wanted. There’s only one animal like him so I’m not that worried but it just broke my heart a little to see Boogie trampling TY. The last laugh would belong to Tyson Chandler as an offensive foul that might have been a little weak compared to the other mess that was happening disqualified Cousins from the game with 21 seconds left. (See above Vine.) Honestly, Boogie could have fouled out an entire quarter earlier so I don’t want to hear it from all the national Boogie fans that were just checking into the game in the fourth quarter. He was out of control for the majority of the second half and the refs lost their grip on the game allowing Boogie to eat.
I genuinely feel sorry for the Kings. Their best player missed 10 games because of a random meningitis infection as they went 2-8 in his absence. The Kings were 9-6 prior to Cousins’ setback and right in the thick of the chase for the 8th seed in the West. That 10-game collapse knocked the Kings out of the playoff picture and quickened the exit for their head coach. Just like that their season was over.
Just a reminder, tonight (7:30 "Mavs Live'' with Fish and them on FOX Sports Southwest, 8 p.m. tip) is a scheduled loss. It’s a back-to-back in Denver where the airport is about 45 minutes away from wherever you’re staying and the elevation will just sap your energy within minutes. If the Mavericks compete or even manage to sneak out a win in this contest it should be greatly applauded and will be a true test of just how ugly of a game the Mavericks are capable winning. They’ve been scratching out stupid wins in ugly games that they have not business of skating away with. This would be the ultimate. Godspeed, Mavericks.
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