|Game 49: Mavericks at Celtics||02.04.11 at 11:19 am ET|
The Dallas Mavericks have been doing this for a long time. They have been a playoff team every year for the last decade, the second-longest current streak after San Antonio. Their run coincided with the emerge of Dirk Nowitzki as a big-time player and over the years he has remained the one constant.
Steve Nash gave way to Jason Kidd. Michael Finley and Josh Howard were eventually replaced by Jason Terry and Shawn Marion. Through it all, Nowitzki has remained, and despite his MVP season, he remains one of the NBA’s underappreciated superstars.
Nowitzki is having another phenomenal season, perhaps his best since his MVP days. His impact can be seen through his +/- numbers where the Mavericks are more than 22 points better with him on the floor, the highest margin in the league, according to Basketball Value. His impact was even more obvious when he missed nine games and the Mavs went 2-7 during that stretch.
They have since won seven of their last eight and are re-establishing themselves as one of the Western Conference’s prime contenders along with the Spurs and Lakers.
As great as Nowitzki has been, the biggest change has come from the Mavs’ never-ending search for the right complimentary players to put around him. That would be Tyson Chandler.
“He’s the biggest change on their team,” Rivers said. “Chandler has made them a defensive team. They have an anchor now. Just think, they have [Brendan] Haywood coming off the bench. That’s a big, deep basketball team.”
Chandler gives them 10 points and nine rebounds per game, while shooting 66 percent from the floor on a limited arsenal of dunks and put-backs. But it’s his defensive presence that has been the biggest factor, especially in their zone defense.
The Mavs are ninth in defensive rating, up from 12th the season before and 17th the year before that. Additionally, they only give up 20 shots a game at the rim — the second lowest total in the league after Orlando where Dwight Howard patrols the paint.
This may be the same old Nowitzki, but it’s not the same old Mavs.
Offensive Rating: 108.1 (Points scored per 100 possessions, 11th)
Defensive Rating: 104.8 (Points allowed per 100 possessions, 9th)
Pace: 90.2 (Possessions per game, 23rd)
Likely Starters: Jason Kidd, DeShawn Stevenson, Dirk Nowitzki, Brian Cardinal, Tyson Chandler
Injuries: Caron Butler (Knee, out), Roddy Beaubois (Foot, out), Peja Stojakovic (Knee, out)
Offensive Rating: 108.1 (12th)
Defensive Rating: 100.1 (2nd)
Pace: 90.8 (21st)
|Fast Break: Nowitzki sinks Celtics||11.08.10 at 11:07 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo missed a wide-open 3-pointer to win it, and Kevin Garnett missed a fadeaway jumper to tie it in the final seconds. Paul Pierce scored a team-high 24 points, Garnett added 18 points and 15 rebounds, and Rondo produced 11 points, 15 assists and six rebounds for the C’s, who fell to 6-2.
Nowitzki led the Mavericks (4-2) with 25 points, six rebounds and four assists.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT WRONG
1. First-half defense: You’re probably not going to beat anybody — let alone the Mavericks — when you allow an opponent to shoot 55 percent from the field for the first half. Dallas made 21-of-38 field goals in the opening 24 minutes, building a lead as large as 14, en route to a 10-point halftime lead.
Mavericks big men Tyson Chandler and Nowitzki were the biggest benefactors of the C’s porous defense. Chandler finished 5-for-5 in the first half, scoring all 10 of those points within two feet of the basket. Nowitzki scored nine first-half points on 4-of-7 shooting.
2. Shooting: It’s bad enough when you allow 55 percent shooting, but it hurts twice as much when your own field-goal percentage is hovering around 35 percent for much of the night. A second-half streak only raised the Celtics’ field goal percentage to 41 percent for the night.
3. Losing the free-throw battle: Sure, the Celtics shot 100 percent from the free-throw line, but they only had seven attempts. The C’s got just one free-throw attempt combined from Glen Davis, Jermaine O’Neal, Garnett and Rondo.
Meanwhile, the Mavericks shot 20 free throws, making 17 (85 percent). Nowitzki alone matched the entire Celtics roster from the free-throw line, making all seven of his attempts. For the referees’ sake, it’s a good thing Tommy Heinsohn didn’t make the trip.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT
1. The halftime speech must’ve worked: The Celtics were badly outplayed in the first half and lucky to be trailing by just 10 at the break. The few signs of grit the C’s showed in the opening 24 minutes didn’t pay dividends, as their own shots just weren’t falling.
Well, something clicked, as the Celtics went on a 22-9 run to start the second half, taking a three-point lead on a trey from (who else but) Ray Allen just 8:14 into the third quarter.
2. Team rebounding: Jermaine O’Neal may have left the game at halftime because of his ailing left knee, but the Celtics didn’t miss him. Garnett grabbed a team-high 15 rebounds, while Pierce (7 boards), Rondo (6) and Allen (5) also chipped in on the glass.
In all, the Celtics out-rebounded the Mavericks, 41-38.
3. Semih Erden continues to contribute: In Jermaine O’Neal’s absence, Semih Erden played 11 minutes, scoring six points on 2-of-4 shooting from the field and 2-for-2 shooting from the free-throw line.
Erden has yet to miss a free throw this season, entering Monday night’s game a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity stripe. Perhaps that production can offset any struggles Shaquille O’Neal has at the line this season.
|Sheed: League doesn’t like tough D on Dirk||01.18.10 at 11:52 pm ET|
Dirk Nowitzki ‘ with 37 points on 14-of-22 shooting from the floor ‘ had a great game. Rasheed Wallace thinks he had a whole lot of help from the officiating crew of Tony Brown, Dan Crawford and John Goble.
Wallace didn’t hold back in expressing his frustration following Monday night’s game about a crucial fourth personal foul called on him with 5:16 remaining in the third quarter and the Celtics holding on to a 63-60 lead.
With Wallace on the bench, Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks on a 15-5 run to close out the third quarter, on their way to a 99-90 win over the Celtics at TD Garden.
“You know, they don’t like no tough defense on him so of course I get a whole lot of bull[crap] calls but that’s how the story goes,” Wallace said, before adding, “I ain’t worried about it. We’ll see them again. Honestly, I can’t remember which one the fourth foul was, there were so many bogus [calls]. I ain’t worried about it. Like I said, we’ll see them again. We go down there in about a month or so. There’ll be retribution.”
Wallace and the Celtics will have their chance at payback on March 20 when the Celtics visit Dallas.
|Fast Break: Celtics vs. Mavericks||at 10:38 pm ET|
BOSTON — What started off as a duel between Paul Pierce and Jason Kidd ended as a one-man show starring Dirk Nowitzki. The Celtics crumbled in the second half as the Mavericks went on tear to erase a nine-point halftime deficit and win, 99-90, in Boston.
Player of the Game: Dirk Nowitzki had an impressive first half with 13 points. Then he came out of halftime and crushed the Celtics to carry the Mavs to victory. He was nearly flawless in a critical third quarter in which he shot 6-for-7 from the field for 13 points. Nowitzki continued the assault in the fourth, scoring another eight points to finish with a game-high 37 (14-for-22 FG).
Turning point: Whatever Rick Carlisle said at halftime worked for the Mavericks. Led by Nowitzki, they dominated the third quarter. The Mavs erased the Celtics’ 50-41 halftime lead to go up 75-68 by the end of the third. Aiding Nowtizki was Erick Dampier, who scored his first 11 of the game in those 12 minutes. The Celtics gave up a season-high 34 points in the third and lost all control of the game.
– Paul Pierce and Jason Kidd combined for 19 points in the first quarter. But they both went scoreless in the second quarter (neither attempted a field goal). Pierce finished with 24 points (9-for-17 FG) while Kidd posted 13 (5-for-7) and 17 assists.
– Kendrick Perkins showed a poise and maturity tonight by staying out of foul trouble. He picked up his first personal nine minutes into the game and didn’t get whistled again until six minutes left in the third quarter. Perkins finished the game with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
– Rasheed Wallace posted 11 points (5-for-13 FG) and three rebounds in 35 minutes in his first game back since being sidelined with a sore left forefoot.
– The Celtics are now 4-9 when trailing after three quarters.
|Doc on Dirk: There’s never been a player like him||at 8:28 pm ET|
Doc Rivers has seen plenty of great players in his time as a player and coach in the NBA.
But he says he’s never seen one like Dirk Nowitzki.
What makes the 7-foot big man so special is his ability to roam the court like a guard.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a player like Dirk, honestly,” Rivers said. “He’s a rare [player]. He’s literally an original. There’s been seven-footers who can shoot, there’s been seven-footers who can pass but there’s been none who can do all of them.”
“I was laughing with Reggie Miller,” Rivers said. “They’re running plays for Dirk that we run for Ray Allen and teams [used to] run for Reggie Miller. Bringing him off triple-screens. You just haven’t seen that. The next coming of that would be the kid in Oklahoma, [Kevin] Durant. They’re the only two guys like that.”
Rasheed Wallace picked a heckuva time to come back after a three-game hiatus with a sore left foot. He had the task of guarding Nowitzki.
“I don’t know if this is the perfect game for him to come back and face Dirk Nowitzki,” Rivers said. “That’s a tall order but that’s the order we have and he’s got to follow through.”
|Nike All-Star Kicks||02.10.09 at 8:33 pm ET|
Nike is rolling out a special line of sneakers for the 2009 NBA All-Star Game, including a pair for Paul Pierce. The shoes will be red and blue to match the Eastern and Western Conference uniforms. There will also be artwork to represent the host city of Phoenix, Arizona. Check out the shoes and a list the players who will be wearing them, from NiceKicks.com.
Eastern Conference: Chris Bosh (Nike Huarache 09), Danny Granger (Nike Zoom Phenom, not pictured), LeBron James (Nike Zoom LeBron VI), Rashard Lewis (Nike Hyperdunk), Paul Pierce (Nike MAX P2 V, not pictured)
Western Conference: Kobe Bryant (Nike Zoom Kobe IV), Pau Gasol (Nike Hyperdunk), Dirk Nowitzki (Nike MAX Spot Up), Brandon Roy (Nike Zoom Phenom), Tony Parker (Nike Huarache 09), Amare Stoudemire (Nike Foamposite Lite), David West (Nike Foamposite Lite)
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