Preview and Chat: The Dallas Mavericks

Kurt —  January 18, 2007

First, let’s enjoy last night for another minute. This is what I’ve come to enjoy about this team: With the game still hanging in the balance late, and with the Lakers having the best go-to clutch player in basketball on their team, the Lakers got the ball to third-line center Ronny Turiaf. He turns and runs right at All-Defensive-Everything Tim Duncan and sinks an awkward little running bank shot over him. Game over. And nobody saw it coming — the Spurs did everything but pull guys out of the stands to be an extra body covering Kobe, but this Laker team has a bunch of confident guys willing to take the big shot.

Kobe is efficient (12 of 19, plus eight assists). The Lakers mostly played good defense and held the Spurs to 47.4% (eFG%) shooting, 27.3% from beyond the arc. The Lakers got good play from the bench again — Farmar was a team-high +13 and the Lakers big run to take the lead in the early fourth started with the subs on the bench. The Lakers — both teams really — showed what good passing looks like.

How can you not have fun watching this team?

First hand view. Regular commenter Cary D. braved the ice storm to get to the game last night, He emailed me some thoughts, which I’ll pass along.

The thing that stood out to me the most was the amount of Laker fans that were present, and LOUD! I couldn’t believe the chorus of boos that could be heard throughout the entire arena everytime Tim Duncan shot free throws, especially in the 4th quarter. The Spurs have such a home court advantage, and you can’t tell me those Spurs players couldn’t hear the Laker loyal last night.

Unfortunately, my girlfriend and I were high up in the “Gi-nose-bleed” section of the arena. But, being high up really lets you experience the game at a whole new level. It was easy to see the Spurs ball movement and the results they got when they ran their offense well. I just can’t believe they went away from their offense in the final 3 minutes, and they stopped using the pick-and-roll with dribble penetration by Tony Parker. Is it me, or does Tony Parker seem to be that guy who kills you in the first 40 minutes and then conveniently disappears in crunch time?

The triangle looked quite nice in key stretches of the game. Kobe was really a surgeon last night. My girl asked me why he took a few shots without moving the ball around first, but when you see the game from that level, you realize he knows EXACTLY the spots on the floor he is most comfortable shooting from. To score 34 points on 12-19 shooting and plenty of assists in the Spurs home arena shows how good this guy really is.

Another great moment you commented on, Turiaf’s bucket took the crowd’s collective soul out from under them. When they moved the ball to Turiaf I almost cringed with Duncan on him. The thing about Turiaf is that he has fundamentally-sound footwork which allowed him to beat Duncan to his spot for an easy lay-in. Killer bucket.

You can tell this is a Phil Jackson coached team because their footwork is really sound. Anyone who has read his books and know his background can see his influence on this team more so than his other Laker teams this decade.

The Laker fans and I were rejoicing in the tunnels, forming instant friendships at what we just saw (sorry to sound like Bill Walton).

One final thought from last night. This one via Bandwagon LA, which has the video evidence to back up something they noticed after Kobe’s third-quarter tomahawk dunk over Duncan:

if you watch the replay (after the 3rd Q graphic in the video), check out the dude on the end of the Spurs bench. As soon as Kobe finishes of the tomahawk facial, the guy looks like he’s about to get up and start celebrating but then realizes he’s on the Spurs and stops himself. But for one split second, he was a fan.

Cake Caper. I am just briefly violating my own rule about not commenting on off-the-court issues in this blog to pass along Dan Reines comment on the cake-throwing incident:

to be fair to kwame, the cake probably just slipped from his tiny granite hands…

Oh yea, that game tonight. As a reward for an exciting win, how about a flight in a storm to face one of the two hottest and best teams in basketball?

When the Lakers beat the Mavs a couple weeks ago they got great performances from Luke Walton (21 points on 8 of 14 shooting, plus six assists), Sasha Vujacic (4 o 5 from deep) and very solid roll-playing nights from Smush and Turiaf.

That night the Lakers also made Dirk inefficient, just 10 of 24 shooting (although he finished with 29 points and 13 boards). As a team the Mavs were held to 46.1% (eFG%) shooting.

With the second game of the back-to-back, the Lakers are going to need that kind of defensive performance again. Kobe is going to have to leave and not let the team think a split of the two-games in Texas was good enough. But others will have to step up again. How about Radmanovic, who seems be more and more comfortable in the offense and finding his space. (Really, his grown is worthy of its own post.)

Whatever happens, I bet it will be fun to watch. Just about everything with the team is.

to Preview and Chat: The Dallas Mavericks

  1. I paused the Tivo and brought the wife in the room to show her the end of the bench Spurs player getting ready to come out of his seat.

    It reminded me of a game when Jordan was lighting up the Hawks and Cliff Levingston and another player were hitting each other in an “oh my god, did you that” fashion after every Jordan make. They were called out in a team film session and fined by their coach (Fratello?).


  2. I totally agree with the point made by Cary D. about Parker, I cannot remember him ever (even the championship teams he’s been on) being big in the late stages of the game, plus he travels every other possession he handles the ball.

    Tonite: we gotta stay close early, anything can happen from their, the laker fans, media, coaches, and most importantly players, all think they can win on any given nite, so don’t count them out. Hopefully Cook and Vlad can give us some big minutes agaisnt Nowitzki


  3. Great game last night guys! I’ve been in a good mood all day! Thats HILARIOUS that there was a dude on the Spurs that was about to start applauding. Anyone know which player it was?

    About the game, beautiful game by KB24. My favorite part was a moment in the 3rd, right after he threw 2 dunks down on Tim Duncan’s head, when the ball was passed to him and he had a open 3 (open by Kobe’s standards), and he passed it up and drove the lane (and ended up passing it off). The old Kobe would have shot the 3 as a heat check. The new Kobe kept doing what was working for him, drive and kick. I hate when he falls in love with the 3. Hes not Kyle Korver.

    And to reiterate what Stu Lantz said on the telecast, how bout a little bit of recognition for the play of Maurice Evans this year. The guy has been solid for us night in and night out off the bench and I don’t think we give him as much credit as he deserves.




    John Hollinger has created another ridiculous formula. I understand he’s trying to become basketball’s Bill James, but it just isn’t working for me fellas.

    Any time the Cavs and Magic can be higher than the Lakers when all of the important stats he has (Strength of Schedule, Margin) are higher than those two teams (as well as overall record)…

    I seriously don’t get it.


  5. Yeah, Hollinger is wasting his time. No one cares about that crazy formula power rankings. Theres no way that his formula can say that the Magic and Cavs are better than us, I don’t care who we’ve lost to


  6. Yea guys, still buzzing from last night. After I got home from San Antonio, I watched the ESPN broadcast this morning just to make sure i didn’t dream that win. Even Mike Breen and Hubie Brown commented multiple times about the Laker fans presence in the Spurs arena. Seems like a lot of Laker fans are coming outta the woodwork to support this team.
    Can’t tell if they are a bunch of bandwagon-jumpers or what, but plenty of people seem to be feeling this group of players. Hubie Brown really had great things to say all broadcast about us, especially Mo Evans and Andrew Bynum. I’ll take Hubie’s word over my mothers, for what its worth.

    Let’s hope the Lakers play with nothing to lose tonight. A back-to-back Texas sweep would be incredible. Thanks for the post, Kurt, it truly was a fabulous evening of Laker ball. You guys are lucky to go to home games anytime you can make it (or afford it)!


  7. I was telling my girlfriend how on-point Hubie was last nite. When he’s on, there is nobody better at giving an accurate description of what’s going on with a team. He was the first national broadcaster to really talk about what makes our team good: great offensive execution, unparralled depth and excellent coaching, along with the brilliance of Kobe. Its a shame they replaced him with Mark Jackson on the national ABC broadcast’s, but I like Mark too.


  8. Off topic: Does Kurt or anyone else here know if the Lakers will have the ability to re-sign Walton at the end of year without moving into luxury tax land? And if they don’t, do you think the team would decide to pay some tax if it meant retaining Walton?

    I’m sure Luke will be worth at least some team’s full mid-level exception. He’s been so good and so important for the Lakes’ success…I would absolutely hate to see him in another uniform.


  9. We obviously want Luke back, and I think Luke wants to stay, but the question is… can we afford him? Based on how he’s playing this season, I wouldn’t be surprised if Isaiah Thomas offered him a $60million dollar contract.


  10. J., I’ve been meaning to do a full column on this but haven’t had the time to confirm all my research. Here’s what I understand (and others feel free to correct me):

    In theory, the Lakers can resign Walton for as much as they want under the Larry Bird rule and not affect the cap. However, in practice Buss will not go over (or far over) the luxury tax theshold, which will limit the offer to Walton. Several people have speculated that the Lakers will offer their mid-level to him (the same money Radmanovic got this summer). However, if another team outbids that Walton may go.

    And that would piss me off


  11. 9. I think that would be the smartest basketball move Thomas would have made since moving to New York.


  12. 11/9. Imagine David Lee and Luke Walton together. Like a nappy-haired reunion of epic proportions. And yes, that too, would piss me off!


  13. 4. This is only the first time the Hollinger rankings have come out. We do not yet know how well they work yet. First, it’s not the end of the season, so maybe he has ranked the teams properly but it just doesn’t look like it yet. Second, while I’m sure he has been refining his formula before this release, there’s nothing to say that the formula won’t be tweaked as the season progresses to achieve better accuracy. That process is what’s important. Now if he keeps the formula constant and it becomes obvious that the rankings are consistently way off, that’s another matter.


  14. 12… now I’m scared!


  15. I question whether Walton’s style would work as well in other systems… The triangle is really the perfect fit for him, and we know PJ loves him. I imagine the lakers will go to reasonable lengths to keep him. And I think he knows how good he has it in lala land, and I know he likes to win. I wouldn’t factor out the lure of the potential to win a championship as motivation for taking less money. As long as it is not substantially less. And I do think we are that close…


  16. First off, odds are good Zeke will be gone before July 1st anyway, so you can probably stop worrying about him offering anyone any contracts. Second, the Knicks would only be able to offer the MLE to Luke (which surely the Lakers would go slightly over to keep him). The real worry is a team with capspace offering Luke some ridiculously overpaid contract which wouldn’t make sense for the Lakers to match (i.e. Derek Fisher). In any event, regarding the luxury tax, my guess is that the Lakers will trade Kwame this summer and re-sign Mihm for probably around $6-7 million less than Kwame’s scheduled to make, and that’ll ensure the Lakers are under the luxury tax threshold so they can re-sign Luke (and Smush and Ronny).


  17. 16. You know, caked crusader aside, I would hate to see Kwame go. I think he fits well with our team, and until we get another 6’11 250+ man in the middle to replace him (mihm doesn’t count), I don’t want to lose him. His defense is important because you cannot out muscle Kwame Brown, for inside position or for celebratory pastries.


  18. I disagree. I think Kwame is a part of the long term plans of the lakers, at least right now, especially over a guy who hasn’t played in a year and a half, or more, who has a penchant to get in serious foul trouble.l I guess we will wait in see, but the way Phil, Kobe, MItch, and everyone else in the organization talk about it, Kobe Lamar and Kwame are the cornerstones right now.


  19. 16. Brilliant comment name, that may be my new favorite on this site.

    And my gut feel is Mihm is the odd man out at the five. But since it is clearly Bynum’s job in the next couple years, the Lakers will not want to pay big starters money for the guy off the bench. We’ll see how they resolve that.


  20. we are humbled.


  21. Good old fashioned ass whooping


  22. “2) Consistency. We are consistently all over the place; the downside of the “scoring by committee” role is that some nights that scoring just isn’t going to come (Bobcats, etc). Luke Walton really needs to step into this 10/15, 8, 6 role in the SF position. Maybe with Lamar back, they can begin to realize something I have been pondering for a while.”


  23. I’m not disappointed at all. We were missing some key matchup players and they took full advantage. Their rebounding edge and the scoring totals for Nowitski and Howard will not be the same when Lamar and Kwame are around to defend. The fact that they kept their starters in with a 20+ point lead until about 2 minutes were left in the game suggests that they are taking the Lakers very seriously for the playoffs.

    Despite the score, they should!


  24. Well, 82 games in a season, you can’t help but getting punched in the mouth a few times. Better for the Mavs to do it at home during a back-to-back than to the 76’ers. On the plus side, Jordan Farmer played his ass off and hustled on defense.