The Mavericks beat the Hornets
100-92 the final score tonight. The Mavs came out amped and were up 20 in the blink of an eye; looked like they were going to do to us what the did to the Jazz and Suns earlier this week. The Hornets wouldn’t go down without a fight however, leaning heavily on Chris Paul and David West to make several runs and keep hope alive. Dallas maintained a much more balanced attack but their deep shooting was broke and they couldn’t capitalize on an infinite amount of offensive rebounds.
We were down 16 to start the fourth but cut it down to a 4-point deficit on a Chris Paul 3-ball with 44 seconds left. The Mavs went cold but were able to get to the free throw line and won it from there.
The familiar issues were the Hornets undoing in this one. Paul and West combined for 62 points, 23 rebounds and 8 assists; the rest of the team delivered just 30 points, 15 rebounds and 1 assist (Melvin Ely = Optimus Dime). Nowhere near enough help for our All-Stars. The slow feet were in full effect again, with the Mavs repeatedly beating us to rebounds and getting a bunch of fast break buckets. And once again we couldn’t match the opposition’s effort and intensity. Not that we had guys slacking tonight, but the Mavs clearly had more energy at both ends of the floor. Their bench was even standing and jumping around for most of the game.
- I liked the lineup Byron went with in the fourth quarter to get us back in it. Realizing that the Mavs were able to crowd Paul and West a little too easily, he let them work the two-man game at one side of the floor while loading the other side up with deep shooters; Posey, Peja and Butler to be specific. That made the Mavs more hesitant to double team West or trap Paul, giving them room to get some good looks. The lack of another big out there to grab some rebounds wasn’t really an issue since we were getting killed on the boards all game anyway.
- Like everyone else not named Paul and West, Rasual didn’t give us much offensively, finishing with 5 points on 2-of-7 shooting. He knocked down a big three over Nowitzki late in the fourth, but he missed two really good deep looks before that. However, I thought Butler came up big for us defensively tonight. He really got after Jason Terry in the second quarter and that effort seemed to raise the defensive effort of the entire team, helping us get back in the ball game.
- CP: 42 points (14-of-25 FGs), 9 boards, 7 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers. Looked like he banged his knee late in the game and was hobbling a little. Let’s hope that’s nothing serious.
- Posey was a huge steaming pile of disappointment. Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh given that it was his first game back from injury, but I only saw him make two positive contributions out there: an early strip of Kidd off help defense, and an aggressive baseline drive midway through Q4. And I guess he did help spread the floor with Peja and Butler down the stretch. He couldn’t knock down any of his open jumpers though (1-of-6 FGs), got left in the dust numerous times defensively, and flashed that annoying smirk of his when Chris Paul got T’d up early in the fourth quarter. I really don’t want to see a player smiling when you’re down 15 points in a big game.
- Part of me wants to complain about the big minutes for West and Paul in yet another loss, but I figure just coming back and making a game of it was a really big deal. If the Mavs had blown us out tonight they would have had a ton of confidence going into Sunday’s rematch. As it is, they have to ask themselves how they could outrebound us 54-38, shut down everyone but our All-Stars, and be up 15+ points several times throughout the game, yet still have to battle into the final minute to ensure victory.
- I so want Brandon Bass back with the Hornets. He was too quick and too strong for Hilton Armstrong tonight. Looked like a log versus a twig rolling downhill. Bass grabbed 13 rebounds (6 offensive) in just 24 minutes, compared to 6 total rebounds between Armstrong, Marks and Ely in a combined 43 minutes. Interesting note by Gerry V on the radio broadcast: Bass is an 86.2 percent free throw shooter this season, good for 23rd in the NBA.
- The best way to double David West, which the Mavs often did tonight: only send the second defender when he turns his back and puts the ball on the floor.
- Not many looks for Peja in this one. He finished with 9 points on 3-of-7 shooting. We mostly looked to him when Antonie Wright was guarding him, and he got most of his scores from that match up. However, when Josh Howard was shadowing Peja we never seemed to consider giving him the ball.
All in all, not a horrible loss tonight, but I don’t think we saw the Mavs best basketball. Hopefully they miss some of those same open looks and second chances on Sunday and we have a few guys step up to help West and CP. The home crowd should aid the Hornets’ energy levels, too.
A quick look at the standings before I wrap this up: we now have the same record as Dallas at 48-31, but still keep the 6 seed thanks to tiebrakers. The Spurs were able to hold off the Jazz in San Antonio tonight so Utah remain a game back in the 8 seed.