Final: Mavs 117, Kings 116
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
The Mavs shot it well from deep tonight, and here’s a big reason why. Dallas took 55 jumpers in the game, 24 of which the club’s analytics team considers “open.” SportVU’s definition of an open shot is one taken when the nearest defender is between 4-6 feet away. (Six feet or more and it’s considered “wide open.”) The team’s definition varies slightly, but just know that the Mavs usually fare better in SportVU’s book than in their own. Tonight, however, 43.6 percent of the jumpers were open, the best mark of the season. The previous high was 37.9 percent. That’s a sign of better spacing, smarter ball movement, and, for the most part, sharper passing.
Dallas shot 47.6 percent from the field in the first quarter and 39.1 percent in the second, yet managed to score more efficiently in the second than in the first. The reason(s)? The Mavs turned it over only twice in the second frame after doing so five times in the first, and Dallas bigs (JaVale McGee, primarily) grabbed six offensive boards in the second alone, giving the club several second chances.
As is usually the case, any time you rack the turnovers up, it’s going to be a tough, tight game. Dallas committed 5 catastrophic turnovers, which led to 8 Kings points. Eight might not seem like a lot, but that’s what makes catastrophic giveaways so bad: Those points shouldn’t exist. If Dallas scores on half of those possessions instead of turning it over, it’s a 12-point swing in favor of the Mavs. Live-ball turnovers are bad, but catastrophic ones — defined as a 1-on-0 breakaway, 3-on-1, etc. — simply cannot happen.
Rick Carlisle promised changes to the rotation, and it turns out the coach is a man of his word. Chandler Parsons played a ton of power forward tonight, after having only played 8 percent of his minutes at the position in the season, according to Basketball-Reference. He was essentially the backup 4 in addition to the starting small forward, playing the power position in relief of Dirk Nowitzki and primarily next to JaVale McGee. Parsons at the 4 gives the Mavs all sorts of spacing on offense and it gives Dallas the chance to bring some more speed in the game at the other three small positions. As long as the matchups are right, I can see this happening much more as the season unfolds.
McGee was incredible, especially in the first half. In nine minutes of playing time before the break, McGee put up 7 points, 5 boards, 2 blocks, and 2 steals. He later became the first Mavs backup center to post a double-double since DeJuan Blair in November 2013. Talk about production. The center was extremely effective playing in the Mavs’ small-ball lineup, especially when Dallas turned to a three point guard unit featuring J.J. Barea, Devin Harris, and Raymond Felton next to Nowitzki. He was particularly impressive on the defensive end, as the club funneled attackers into the middle of the lane so McGee could reject their shot or force some other sort of deflection. Offensively, what makes him so difficult to defend is that there’s no way a defender can get up as high as McGee can to contest an alley-oop lob for a dunk. The only answer is to foul him as he leaps, but teams obviously don’t want to commit fouls. He puts defenses in such a difficult position. As he continues to work toward perhaps a larger role within the team, it’s a positive sign that he was able to affect the game so positively on both ends.
Big moments call for big plays, and Deron Williams made plenty of those in this game. In addition to hitting the GAME-WINNER, he hit a go-ahead layup at the end of regulation, he hit a couple huge driving layups in overtime and double-overtime to keep the game close. Williams finished with 25 points in what was easily his most effective game since returning from a hamstring injury.
Wesley Matthews continued his fiery shooting ways tonight, dropping another pair of three-pointers. The shooting guard has been in quite the rhythm lately, knocking down multiple treys in his eighth consecutive outing. The benefits of long-distance shooting are obvious, of course, but what’s really stood out about Matthews’ game lately is his ability to put the ball on the floor and make plays for others. He also scored a couple times out of post-up plays. We knew his defense wouldn’t be an issue, and now that his offensive game is solidifying and diversifying, hopes should be high for continuously improving play moving forward.
It’s been a rough last five games for Nowitzki, who tonight broke a four-game stretch of shooting 40 percent or worse from the field, tying for the second-longest streak of his career, per Basketball-Reference. (Seriously, that’s an incredible stat if you think about it.) He started this game 3 of 13 from the field, but came back into the contest with Dallas down two points and immediately hit a three-pointer. Then he hit a baseline jumper. Then he grabbed a defensive rebound and launched a full-court, Wes Unseld-style outlet pass to a streaking Matthews for an and-one layup, after which Dallas led 94-90. Then he hit an impossible running kind-of-fadeaway-thing off his right foot to put Dallas up 96-93. In overtime, he’d hit an open elbow jumper to tie it at 104 with under a minute left. Even when the legend is cold, he’s hot.
The Mavs (20-15) play the New Orleans Pelicans (13-20) Wednesday at the Smoothie King Center. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. Central.
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