On Tap: The Dallas Mavericks

Kurt —  February 7, 2006

Record: 37-10 (Pythagorean 37-10), top seed in the West (tied with the Spurs)
Record last 10 games: Freakin’ 10-0, they’ve won 11 straight
Laker record against Dallas: 2-0
Offensive Rating: 113.2 (2nd in league)
Defensive Rating: 105.5 (12th in league)

About the Mavericks: The best team in basketball the last couple of weeks, and they should be motivated because Kobe dropped 62 on them in three quarters last time these two met. All of which is really bad news for the banged up and slumping Lakers.

Dirk Nowitzki is on fire — he’s shooting 58.6% from three-point range in the last 10. In that time he’s also pulling down 7.4 rebounds per game and has a true shooting percentage of 59%. He gets overlooked in the MVP talk, but he shouldn’t be.

The thing is, he’s got help. In the last 10 games Josh Howard is shooting 48.9% (eFG%) while Jason Terry is the weak shooting link in the starting lineup at 45.8% overall and 35% from beyond the arc. Jerry Stackhouse is coming off the bench shooting 50.4% in the last 10.

Plus the Mavericks are playing defense — teams are shooting just 46.7% against them, fifth lowest percentage in the league. If you want a weakness, they do give up a lot of offensive rebounds (28.4% of opponent misses).

The Lakers coming in: Chris Mihm and Lamar Odom are considered “doubtful.” So who gets to cover Dirk? Cook if you look at last game’s starting five, although I think Devean George is the better defender and should get a lot of time on Dirk and even the start (as he did two games ago).

Defense? We don’t need no stinkin’ defense. Among the Laker problems of late, defense is at the top of the list. I mentioned this in the midseason report card and things have not gotten better. The Lakers have given up 100 points in seven of their last eight games, but part of that is they have picked up the pace of play recently. Their defensive rating in the last 10 games is 108.1 (points per 100 opponent possessions) — much worse than the 104.5 they had back when they were playing good defense up until mid December. They will need to play good defense tonight against one of the most efficient offensive teams in the league.

One thing I hope to see tonight: Ronny Turiaf is eligible and it would be great to see him get a few minutes and bring his energy to the game. Heck, let him try to cover Dirk for a while, he can’t be worse than Cook.

Another thing I hope to see tonight: Honestly, good effort and execution, that may be enough for the Lakers stay within 25.

Key’s to a Laker win (or at least to cover the 11-point spread): The Mavs had had trouble stopping Kobe this season, but you know he’s going to get some special attention tonight and the Mavs “D” has been better of late. For the Lakers to win Kobe will again have to score 60+ and someone else — Smush, Cook, even Kwame — is going to have to step up and have a career night. Maybe a couple of guys need to do that — there have to be other options. And I’m not even sure that would be enough for an outright win.

Kurt

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12 responses to On Tap: The Dallas Mavericks

  1. well, since we are headed to the draft again, its time to start thinking what the Lakers need. Looking at some mock projections the Lakers should be able to decide between Marcus Williams or Dee Brown. Williams would be great, 6-6, we can use him like Harper. Brown brings the ability to do what Smush does every 5 games or so on a nightly basis, with better pressure D. hey, either of those guys with kobe odom bynum and mihm could make a good starting 5, draft thoughts any laker fans?

  2. I think it’s a little early to say the Lakers won’t make the playoffs, they are still the eight seed and if they get healthy, and with a friendly schedule late, they stand a good chance. In fact, I haven’t given up hope of them reaching the six seed, which is what you really want in the West if you want to advance most easily.

  3. Prior to the Christmas day Miami game I agree with you Kurt. The way the offense was improving and the defense we were playing had me feeling we could easily beat the Nuggets and have a good shot at Phoenix in the second round. However, for whatever reason, has decided to not play defense, and not run the offense efficently. This is not what happens to playoff bound teams and I feel Utah and Minnesota are better equipped to finish the season on a strong note, leaving us on the outside looking in.

  4. The turning point of the season so far really was the XMas Day game..I wonder what happened? Perhaps an argument in the locker room? The defense really started falling apart after that game..they teased us with the MLK game against the Heat but the team defense and scoring outside of Kobe has been ridiculously bad as of late…

  5. DJ not damon jones February 7, 2006 at 10:05 pm

    i think one of the main problems for the Lakers is inconsistency. they rely too much on kobe and as we’ve seen tonight, he can’t score 40 or 50+ every night. what we need is better rotation, study the teams more before they meet them, and obviously better D. Now they’re back to .500, what next? kobe might come back scoring 50+ and hopefully winning games against easy teams which they have dropped..uh ..to charlotte?!
    Lakers must get better in order to advance farther out of the first round. Period.

  6. 24-19->24-24. I wonder if they can hear the ghost of Rudy T on the team plane?

  7. DJ not damon jones February 7, 2006 at 10:53 pm

    Does anyone remember Latrell Sprewell? Where on Earth has he been? He might have a temper but he’s still got some gas in his tank…eg. sam cassell. someone call the Lakers’ GM and tell him to think towards the future by signing Spree. it would greatly improve the chances of winning. since the gm have made so many stupid mistakes, at least do something good for once. Shaq to miami, caron to washington, and all we get back are scrubs…..excluding Lamar , well maybe him too…

  8. In the interest of being optimistic I agree we should not throw the towel just in. However the lack of energy, focus, and pride really hurts. Opponents are “strolling” thru the lane scoring layups like it was the pre-game warm-up drills. The problem: a lack of commitment to team defense by the majority! I think every player (young & old) really needs to look in the mirror and commit to the extra effort before, during, and after the game. Offensively it seems almost like everyone appears to be intimidated by KOBE’s presence. It seems then that this is one of the circumstance of having a younger team which lacks veteran leadership that can contribute at the offensive and defensive ends. In short, I think most people will agree that defense will always win for you and keep you in the game when the offense struggles . Therefore, when draft day does come (or even a trade before then)…I think defense has to be the focus to solidify the middle and strengthen the overall team defense if this group cannot put it together quickly!

    p/s: Kwame Brown make a stinking bucket or at least don’t turn the darn thing over!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. I tivo’d the game, then after work, I stopped by Ralphs to pick up a few things, and this dude, didn’t know him at all, from out of nowhere decides I need to hear that the Lakers lost and the Clippers won, I said, “Dude, don’t tell me, I tivo’d it” but he went on, how great the Clips are now, and he’s switching to them for his team, yada yada yada…
    Needless to say, when I got home, I really didn’t want to watch the Lakers lose…again…
    but I did read the Times coverage, and one thing I noticed, looks like phil’s gonna bench Kwame. And while there’s beena few times in the last 5 games or so when Kwame has shocked me with his hops and a strong finish to the hole..but, that is usually only once per game, and not on every game, so it’s a rarity indeed.
    my point is, he does have the physical abilities to be an awesome presence in the paint, but it sure seems like he’s lacking the desire.
    if you remember the last time he started games on the bench, it seemed to motivate him, he actually was more help to the team in that role, starting Cook, and I think that’s what’s necessary again.
    I really hate it when guys making millions of dollars per year feel like they “can’t feed their family”, or “want some time off to promote their record label”…these guys need to spend a few days with a roofing crew, get a taste of REAL life, a taste of their own future because their pro careers are gonna end in a bust, then they got like 50 more years to live( with NO) salary). how they gona do that? (most likely a car dealership with their name on it)
    I hate to say this, but I’m getting to the point where, like last year, if the team doesn’t seem to care about a loss, why should I?
    this sure isn’t the Lakers of old.

  10. also, the downturn with this team started after the fiasco in Sacto, LO driving, getting a charge call, when we shudda played smart ball, ran the clock down, we gave that game away…(Bonehead!!), then to see LO smiling, as if it were no big deal, that was the start of this downslide in my humble opinion.
    time to SUCK IT UP, play D, be aggessive!

  11. Chris that was you at the Ralph’s? Sorry, I didn’t mean to ruin the game.

    Spreewell? That’s exactly how NOT to build for the future. He’s different than Cassell. Spree needs to drive to get his points, but he can’t do that anymore whereas Sam as the methodical point guard who can shoot can stay around and play a slower game.

  12. Did anyone who wants Spreewell really watch him the last two seasons? He doesn’t play defense and his skills have deteriorated on offense to the point he is very inconsistent. We already have a lot of those players, thanks.