58 Messy Minutes… But a Win is a Win

11 02 2012

Brandan Wright scored two points tonight, but they were some powerful points.

I found myself wanting to stop watching this sloppy game while also not being able to look away from the back-and-forth match that had a playoff feel to it.

The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Portland Trail Blazers, 97-94, in a game that was extended to two overtimes. Nothing came easy for the Mavericks in this victory as it took many tries and many shots to put away the pesky Blazers. This was the first time these two teams saw each other since the Mavs defeated them in Game 6 of the first round during last year’s playoffs.

Dirk started off hot, scoring eight of the Mavs first 16 points. As the game wore on, however, Dirk started to struggle more and more. It seems more and more evident that this season is taking a toll on his body as he just seems to be wearing down far too often. He finished the night shooting 7-20, but as Jeremy Lin showed earlier tonight, what matters most are the shots you take and make late in the game.

Towards the end of the second overtime when both teams (except for Delonte West and Gerald Wallace) looked absolutely dead and ready to finish this game, Dirk received the ball at the top of the key with a two-point lead and 22 seconds left in the game. Even though he had missed two previous closing minute shots in regulation and the first overtime, if Dirk continues to be fed the ball, he will eventually put it in. There’s a reason the Mavs front office has had so much faith in him through the thick and thin. That’s exactly what he did this time around when he faded away on Aldridge to put his team up four.

Dirk made a go-ahead bucket yet again

Following this rainbow shot from the big German, he reacted with what looked to be anger as he clearly was releasing some built up frustration. As mentioned earlier, this man is beginning to regularly look too tired to go on and his legs look too weak to elevate a 7-0, 245 pound man off the ground. I feel like Dirk’s conditioning can be better. And there is tangible evidence to this notion as he failed to take it into the paint at all late in this game, something he usually does during crunch time.

After Wesley Matthews made his first free throw and missed the second, Gerald Wallace tied up Shawn Marion, causing a jump ball. Whether he was making a big-time block, anticipating the passing lanes, or constantly going for boards, Crash made his impact felt tonight. (However, that should be as expected from anyone with the nickname “Crash.”)

The Blazers won the tip, but because of great defense from West, Jamal Crawford was forced into a wild three-point attempt, handing the Mavericks their 17th win of the season.

Even though the Mavs came away with the victory tonight, they played a much sloppier game. Racking up a total of 23 turnovers, this allowed the Blazers to come back from a 18-point deficit in the second quarter. This was a problem during their 0-3 start to the season when they averaged 21 turnovers. Taking care of the ball is something that seems as though it should go unsaid but the Mavs certainly need a reminder. Hopefully this problem can be fixed quickly and not become a persistent problem.

Someone that started hot and stayed hot was LeMarcus Aldridge. He put on a show tonight with 33 points and 12 rebounds. When his back is to the basket, he becomes such an offensive threat with his size and length, and as a defender, you just have to hope he misses. (Sound familiar?) He sent this game into two consecutive overtimes on his own with two game-tying buckets. This first time All-Star showed tonight he deserves to be headed to Orlando in a few weeks.

Jason Terry continued his great year at the American Airlines Center with efficient play. The JET made eight of his 13 shots while also grabbing six rebounds. When Terry gets the ball in his hands, he knows precisely where he wants to get on the court (dribble to his right and pull up after one or two dribbles), and when he gets there, a basket almost always follows. He knows his role and plays his role better than anyone else on the team.

Even though I still feel as though many are lowering their expectations for Lamar Odom, maybe I just need to accept that his level of play will not be changing this season. He had 10 points on 4-5 shooting and grabbed five boards; that doesn’t seem like a Sixth Man of the Year type performance. Where is the explosion? Where is the passion? Where is the talent that you have shown your entire career? The Mavs may never see any of that for the rest of the year.

Rodrigue Beaubois has now sat out of an entire Mavs game on a Coach’s Decision for a second straight game. Carlisle does have a deep team, just the way he likes it, and he has always had a no-nonsense mentality that only the players producing will play. This past Wednesday, though, Roddy-B put up 13 points on 5-7 shooting. What was his reward for that performance? Two straight benchings. Even if Carlisle believed the Timberwolves and Blazers had match-up problems for the 185-pound Frenchman, I still think he needs to be getting some minutes every game. Otherwise, he will continue to be stuck in this limbo where he has no understanding of his role.

The Mavs have started their toughest part of the 2011-2012 season in a great way. Currently on a three-game winning streak after beating the Nuggets, T-Wolves, and Blazers, Dallas will now face the Clippers, Nuggets, Sixers, Lin-led Knicks, Celtics and Lakers before the All-Star Break. If they can continue to play solid team defense (I can’t remember the last time I saw a double-overtime game with neither team in the 100s…) and have expected offensive production from Dirk and JET, they should feel confident going into and coming out of the All-Star Break.

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