Mavericks vs. Lakers
Dirk Nowitzki's 25 points and nine rebounds leads the Mavericks over the Lakers.
Box Score | Highlights
Final: Mavs 103, Lakers 93
Behind the Box Score
The Mavs were able to win this thing despite only generating 4 jump shots that the team considers “open.” That’s out of 44 chances. The club considers a good contest rate (the percentage of jump shots they consider contested) to be around 70 percent. Tonight it was 90.9 percent, but the Mavericks were able to convert difficult looks into points.
This was our first glimpse at the Deron Williams-Wesley Matthews-Chandler Parsons-Dirk Nowitzki-Zaza Pachulia starting lineup. Dallas surged out to a 15-0 start to begin the game and that unit finished the contest a +12. Starting strong is key in the NBA, especially to a team with depth like Dallas. If the starting five can secure an advantage early on, everything is easier later in the game. Dallas was 36-2 last season, for example, when leading after three quarters. So far this year the Mavs are 2-0 in those situations.
Matthews was the primary defender against Kobe Bryant, giving us our first good look at the shooting guard squaring off against a go-to perimeter scoring option. After locking down Markieff Morris in the post in the season opener, Matthews held Bryant in check as well, as the Black Mamba shot just 3-of-15. The Lakers scored just 0.67 points per isolation possession in 15 chances. For reference, the league average for points per possession overall is always just a bit higher than 1.00. That’s very efficient defense against a Hall of Famer, but that’s just the type of defender Matthews is.
There are an awful lot of moving pieces in a basketball game, but when Dirk Nowitzki is on fire, it’s awfully easy to find yourself fixated on every single move he makes. That’s the thing about superstars: It doesn’t matter what else is happening, good or bad. Everything stops when a legend gets hot. And Dirk was scorching against the Lakers, scoring 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting, including dropping three three-pointers and even grabbing 9 rebounds. There’s no better way to put it — he was on fire. It’s a heck of a lot of fun to see Nowitzki on a night like this one. He was banking in one-legged fades, draining threes from above the arc, and commanding double-teams but beating them anyway. He’s 37 years old but remains a virtuoso in a game made for 27-year-olds.
Chandler Parsons made his long-awaited return to the lineup tonight, scoring 2 points on 1-of-6 shooting in 11:52, all in the first half. Parsons played with confidence, which is something you want to see from a player in his first game after a fairly significant knee injury and summer surgery. The forward used his lauded pump-fake to create some driving room and was able to get into the paint whenever he wanted to. The finishing will come in time, as he continues to get his legs under him. He also dished out 3 assists in the first half, the most of any non-point guard for the Mavs. In fact, while it didn’t count as an assist, Parsons delivered a nice bounce pass to Zaza Pachulia on the opening possession that led to free throws for the center. It didn’t take long to see what the Mavs had been missing.
One staple in the Mavs’ offensive playbook for the last decade-plus has been a pindown screen for Nowitzki. A few passes and cuts set it up, but eventually what happens is the point guard runs down from around the top of the key and sets a screen for Nowitzki on the block. Dirk then flashes up to the elbow and receives a pass from his teammate, usually either the center or shooting guard. It’s a reliable play. But teams know this play by heart and will occasionally over-play it, sending both players at Nowitzki to blow up the play like a well-timed blitz against a screen pass in the NFL. Pachulia, however, has terrific floor vision, and tonight when the Lakers over-played the set he was able to slip a pass behind the defense to a wide-open Deron Williams at the rim. That’s a nifty wrinkle to add to an old favorite, and it gives opposing defenses something to think about. Against a passer as good as Pachulia, you can’t afford to over-play anyone or anything.
Roy Hibbert has a reputation as one of the best rim protectors in the NBA, and in the first quarter we saw why. Dallas opened the game shooting 2-of-7 in the restricted area and 2-of-10 in the paint overall before Hibbert left the game in foul trouble with 4:24 left in the first quarter. Once he exited, the light turned green for the Mavs’ perimeter players. Dallas shot 4-of-6 in the restricted area against a small front line of Brandon Bass and Ryan Kelly to finish the first quarter, launching an offensive rally to close out the quarter with a 32-21 lead. It was the third 30-point quarter this season for Dallas, after the club scored 30 and 34 in the second and third quarters, respectively, against Phoenix.
The Mavs (2-1) play the undefeated Toronto Raptors (3-0) Tuesday night — the home opener — at the American Airlines Center. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. Central.