Sunday, April 1, 2007

Getting angry

5:48pm ET
Remember last season in the playoffs when Tim Thomas blew Dirk a kiss, and Dirk went off for 50 points? Well, he just got undercut by Shawn Marion on a jump-shot, and he looks pretty angry. My money says, with Dallas down 10 and seven minutes left, here’s where we’ll find out what he’s made of––if he gets back in the game.

6:39pm ET
And...Dirk did, basically, absolutely nothing. A couple of offensive rebounds, a couple of missed shots, and a little bit of hobbling around the court. His sprained ankle was a nice complement to Josh Howard’s busted forehead, as the Suns literally added injury to insult.

And whatever you think of Dirk’s awful shooting game (21 points on 6/18 with 6 rebounds and 6 assists), Dallas has a far scarier statistic to reckon with: in their past two games, Stoudemire and Marion have combined to shoot 41 of 54 (75.9%) against the Mavericks.

Last game, Dallas made up for their porous defense and mediocre shooting with 27 offensive rebounds, miraculously taking the game down to the wire in overtime despite a huge deficit in field goal percentage. Today the rebounding was even, and Dallas didn’t have a prayer.

Just for kicks, here are the Suns’ player-by-player field goals today, from best to worst:

Marion: 8/10 (80%)
Stoudemire: 10/13 (76.9%)
Diaw: 6/9 (66.7%)
Nash: 7/11 (63.6%)
Barbosa: 10/17 (58.8%)
Jones: 2/4 (50%)
Bell: 3/7 (42.9%)

So seven different Suns shot, and only Raja Bell hit fewer than 50%. And Bell’s makes were all 3-pointers, which means he still managed 9 points on just 7 shot attempts.

You can’t really even say that any of the Suns was particularly dominant; everyone on the team scored more or less whenever they wanted. And it wasn’t just off assists from Nash (who had a less-than-gaudy 11); Amare and Diaw posted up one-on-one and regularly got layups.

Dallas put up some nice numbers themselves for most of the game to stayed competetive, but it’s obviously a rare night that anyone can beat the Suns without getting stops.

The only consolation I can see is that Dampier, who had 11 offensive rebounds the last time these teams played, was out of the lineup. That left Dallas with only DeSagana Diop, which meant they played 22 minutes without a true center in the lineup. A lot of the easy buckets Amare and Diaw got were on mismatches agains the likes of Jason Terry. But they also scored easily enough when Diop was in, so that hardly explains away the problem.

Here’s my thought: maybe if the two teams meet in the playoffs, Kevin Willis––who has the biggest biceps in the history of the NBA––will break Amare’s arm going for a block; if Dallas doesn’t figure something out defensive––or else utterly dominate the offensive boards––that might be their best shot at beating these guys.


ryan b said...

I hope we didn't just see what Dirk was made out of. He didn't do much after that. Ofcourse, neither did the rest of the Mavericks. I don't know whether this loss should scare me or not. Part of me wants to just brush it off as an unimportant game since we pretty much have the top seed tied up. Then again, we should get up for games like this since we may face them in the playoffs.

Jeremy said...

I don't think this loss says much about Dirk, although once again he did not bring his A-game when it mattered. What's more telling to me is what a great player who shoots 6-18 in the first 46 minutes does in the final moments. Today, Dirk didn't have an opportunity to show us.

The playoffs are where we will find out what Dirk--and what the Mavs--are made of. I hope we don't learn that their best moment was in 2006, with Amare down, and with a 2-0 lead in the NBA finals.