Dirk Does It Again

11 01 2012

Dallas 90, Boston 85

On a night in which two .500 teams that don’t normally sit at such subpar records matched up with one another, there was yet another grind-it-out finish for the fans.

The Boston Celtics fell to the Dallas Mavericks, 90-85, because of yet another late game heroic from the big German – Dirk Nowitzki.

With 25 seconds left in the game, the Mavs and C’s were tied at 85 apiece. After a full timeout by the Mavs, Jason Terry gave a screen for (you guessed it) Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk received the ball in his hands as the final seconds of the game began to wind down. Kevin Garnett didn’t leave #41 the slightest amount of breathing room in order to prevent any sort of jump shot from leaving his hands. So, Dirk slipped by him with a quick move to the right and drove into the lane, making the bucket with a hard foul from former Maverick, Brandon Bass. After Dirk made the free throw to give him 16 points on the night, Ray Allen fumbled the ball out-of-bounds. Terry then received the inbound pass, made the open bucket, and finished the defensive struggle going on all night to put the Mavericks above .500 for the first time this season.

It amazes me how Dirk finds a way to make such clutch shots even when the opposing team knows he will be shooting the final shot. His ability to make any sort of mid-range jumper along with his efficiency around the basket with either hand makes him such a tough cover when the game is on the line. This gave the nation a reminder of just how great Nowitzki was in last year’s championship run.

Jason Terry had a sound night behind the line and on the defensive side of the court. Terry connected on three 3-pointers and stole the ball four times. Terry has gotten into a great pattern of always keeping his hands active, and his ability to make 3-pointers has been present throughout his entire career.

Even though the Mavericks gave up a 13-point lead in the third quarter, they played solid team defense most of the night. Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Brendan Haywood, and Ian Mahinmi all had big nights on the board, combining for 31 of their team’s 43 rebounds. They constantly boxed out the Celtics (a more subtle x-factor to every NBA game), only allowing two offensive rebounds for the Celtics all night.

Delonte West did his job, again, by supplying Dallas’s first six points of the game. He also collected three steals along with his 12 total points. Racking up steals has become a part of West’s repertoire as he ranks 10th in the league with 1.8 steals per game. Providing this consistent spark early on is great for the oldest starting lineup in the league.

Even though a lot of positives can be taken from this game, there is still a particular blemish for these Mavs that just won’t go away. Lamar Odom continues to play with a lack of energy and with no attempt to fix the struggles he has had all season long. In 15 minutes of play, he put up only three shots – making two of them – and didn’t do much else. I understand Old Hollywood might feel weird being away from home and uncomfortable in his new setting; however, as coaches, managers, and even players love to point out, the NBA is a business. Trades happen and players go to new destinations. Hopefully, this Odom problem won’t turn into an Antoine Walker situation….

After Rick Carlisle argued all the way past half court in the third quarter, he received two technical fouls to send him to the locker room. Terry Stotts coached the rest of the way and did a fine job, calling many effective inbound plays.

The Mavericks now have their longest winning streak of the season (three games) by doing something they haven’t done all season long – winning a close game. Dallas’s past five wins came at an average margin of 12.8 points, so winning such a close game will boost team moral.

Facing Milwaukee on Friday and Sacramento on Saturday, the Mavericks should be able to extend this win streak to five games if they continue to play at the level they reached tonight.

 

*The Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics have created a cross-conference rivalry throughout the past two years. Last year, the Mavs had two similar down-to-the-wire games, winning 89-87 on November 8th, 2010, and 101-97 on February 4th, 2011.

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