Saturday, December 29, 2007

Frustrating Week

The Mavericks’ local TV and radio crews were happy to put a positive stamp on the team’s 13-point home win over Atlanta today, but the fact is that after jumping to a 12-0 lead in the first quarter, Dallas barely edged the Hawks the rest of the way. Dallas’ defense in the fourth quarter was as porous as ever, while Dirk shot 1 for 5 for the quarter, and the Hawks’ aggressive defense forced a handful of turnovers and made the Mavericks look timid.

Dallas has many strengths, but in the second half what I saw was (1) Atlanta punishing the Mavericks with blocks and turnovers every time they tried to get into the lane, and (2) Atlanta getting close to the hoop and drawing a foul almost any time they wanted to.

I don’t like to be too harsh on Dallas when they lose a game, and here’s an example of where they don’t deserve much credit for winning. Dallas won, but they looked like they got bullied. Against Utah the other day, when the Jazz tightened up the lane, Dallas settled for (and missed) a series of three-pointers late in the fourth quarter. Tonight they tried harded to get inside, but they couldn’t for the most part. They made enough shots to win, but their performance wasn’t much more impressive than it was against Utah.

As a footnote, the Mavericks deserve to get called out for a lame performance against Cleveland on Thursday night. My brother and I were there in the upper deck, and the effort by the team was abominable, with the lone exception of Nowitzki, who fought for 20 rebounds. No one (Dirk included) could shoot that night, and no one other than Dirk bothered to rebound or defend for most of the game. Just like Utah the night before, any given Cavs’ player could count on an open shot most any time he wanted it. That Cleveland only shot 36 percent (same as Dallas) was the Mavericks’ good fortune, not the result of defensive aggressiveness. In the end LeBron only needed an average performance (with a pair of nice dunks) in order to win on the road.

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