Preview and Chat: The Dallas Mavericks

Darius Soriano —  January 19, 2011

Records: Lakers 31-12 (2nd in West), Mavericks 26-14 (5th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.0 (1st in NBA), Mavericks 107.1 (15th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 104.0 (9th in NBA), Mavericks 104.7 (10th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers:Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Mavericks: Jason Kidd, Deshawn Stevenson, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler
Injuries: Lakers: Matt Barnes & Theo Ratliff (both out); Mavericks:Rodrique Beaubois& Caron Butler (both out), Tyson Chandler (questionable)

The Lakers Coming in: Whether or not you consider the Lakers’ win vs. the Thunder their best of the season, it was definitely good to see a W against a very good opponent. The Lakers played a very good 1st half and a tremendous 2nd half to close out the type of young, talented, and athletic team that has given them fits all year. So, coming off a win like that the Lakers are now in a position to springboard into a very difficult part of their schedule. Tonight the Mavs await andwhile they’re not playing their best (more on that in a second) they surely represent another quality team that is expected to perform well come playoff time.

In order to rack up the wins against quality teams, though, the Lakers must start to improve in some of the areas that have been hampering them lately. First off all, that means getting more minutes out of Bynum. Big ‘Drew has been plagued with fouls in the past couple of games and it’s really killed his rhythm on offense while also removing the Lakers interior defensive anchor on defense. They also need more performances like the OKC game from their point guards. Fisher had a very good shooting game andBlake (though only making one shot) looked more aggressive by at least acting like he wanted to shoot more (but not being able to because defenders were in good position to contest his would be shots).  With Kobe playing well of late, LO still locked in, Ron finding his stride, and Pau now seemingly playing better too the Lakers are poised to start to make a push but they’ll need the other key pieces to come along for the ride. Here’s hoping that starts now.

The Mavericks Coming in:  Injuries have simply killed this team lately. Once the 2nd seed and one of the hotter teams in the league, the Mavs have lost 6 games in a row and9 of 11. After Caron Butler went down for the season with an injured knee and Dirk missed games due to the slight spain of his own, the Mavs simply couldn’t keep up offensively and started their tumble down the standings. They now sit in 5th place in the conference but are only 3 games ahead in the loss column over the 7th place team (Denver).

However, things may begin to fall back into place for the Mavs. First off all, Dirk is back from injury, and while he didn’t perform well in his first game back (7 points in only 14 minutes, plus he got ejected for arguing), in Monday’s game against the Pistons he put up 32 points on only 17 shots (though, in defeat). Now that their offensive anchor is back, the Mavs shouldn’t have the same issues scoring the ball andjust have to get back to playing quality defense. The return of Tyson Chandler (he missed the last couple games withthe flu, but is hopeful to play tonight) should help with that. In the end, I think everyone in Big D is hopeful that a loss to the lowly Pistons was rock bottom and they can get back to playing the type of ball that had them pegged as one of the best teams in the league through the first 30 games of the season. And they’ll look to get on track tonight vs. the visiting defending champs.

Mavericks Blogs: Rob Mahoney does an excellent job over at The Two Man Game (amongst other places). Go there and learn some things on the Mavs.

Keys to game:The Mavshave been trying for years to match up with the Lakers and Spurs and this year they’ve put together the roster that actually comes closest for them to do so. So, tonight will depend a lot on whether or not the Mavs actually have the ingredients to contend with the Lakers’ strengths or if they’re still a ways behind.

Defensively, the Lakers are going to have to deal with a team that plays at a slower pace but will selectively push the ball when it’s to their advantage. Jason Kidd, despite his age, is still one of the better floor generals in the league in that he’s excellent at recognizing the weakness of other team and then working to exploit it. Tonight he’ll be very aware that the Lakers struggle when the ball is pushed back at them and I’m sure he’ll try to run up the Lakers backs in order to get Shawn Marion shots going to the basket and his shooters (Dirk, Barrea, Terry) open shots at the three point line against a collapsing defense.  So, the Lakers must run back hard and be aware of who is on the floor in order to match up in transition and not give up the looks that the Mavs want to get.

In the half court, the Mavsdo the same things they’ve been doing for a while – run P&R with Kidd probing the D and run isolations at the elbow for Dirk to go one on one against defenders that aren’t used to guarding 7’0” bigs that can create their own shots out to the 3 point line. Stopping Dirk will be the #1 priority, though, so that means plenty of extra attention directed towards him. Luckily in Gasol and Odom, the Lakers have good individual defenders to put on Dirk but I’d love to see LA mix up their coverages on him by doubling when he puts the ball on the ground or feinting the double and then recovering when he looks to pass. Dirk is not a turnover prone player, but if the Lakers can get him out of his rhythm and make him see things that aren’t really developing that way they may bait him into some bad possessions.

On the other side of the ball, the Mavs defense may present one of the biggest challenges the Lakers’ offense see all year. The reason is that the Mavs play one of the best zone defenses in the entire league and the Lakersdon’t really deal with the zone that well. In order to crack the Mavs’ zone D, the Lakers will need to use crisp ball andplayer movement while also acting decisively. I’d love to see quick ball reversals with Kobe at the top of the zone, Gasol or Odom flashing to the middle, and the other big sitting in the short corner ready to duck in for high-low actions. If the Lakers can get Kobe at the top of the key isolated against Kidd, Terry, or Barrea he can easily get to the elbow area to elevate and shoot his jumper. If Gasol and/or Odom can get into the creases of the D either at the FT line or along the baseline, they too should be able to get easy shots in the teeth of the defense. This will take discipline on offense, though, and that’s something that hasn’t always been there for the Lakers this season (despite their efficiency).

Lastly, the battle of the benches will be key tonight. In Barrea, Terry, Cardinal, and Haywood the Mavs have 4 rotation players that they inherently trust to play well. Terry is, again, one of the leading candidates for 6th man of the year while Cardinal stepped in admirably for Dirk when he was out injured. While the Mavs trust Barrea so much they’ll often go to three guard line ups where he’s flanked by Kidd and Terry to close out games. So, the Lakers bench of LO, Shannon, Blake, and Walton will need to have good games tonight in order to match the production of the Mavs’ reserves (while also holding them below their normal levels).  If one bench drastically outplays the other, that team will probably win this game.

The Mavs face an uphill climb tonight. Per the Elias Sports Bureau this is the longest losing streak by the Mavs since the 2000 season andthey’re trying to snap it against the back to back champs. However, you know what they say about about a person with their back against the wall so the Lakers will need to be prepared for the Mavs’ best effort tonight. This win could catapult them back into their winning ways. Meanwhile, the Lakers need to win these games not so much as a confidence boost but because they’re finally starting to play well and beating another top team will only continue the momentum along that was slightly interrupted by the Clippers game. Here’s hoping that the road team is the one that uses this game as their springboard.

Where you can watch: 6:00pm start out west on KCAL and nationally on ESPN. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710am.

Darius Soriano

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83 responses to Preview and Chat: The Dallas Mavericks

  1. For Warren!

  2. If I remember correctly, it was last year, around January that we played the Mavs and played brilliantly, winning going away, maybe 30+ points and the starters playing little after halftime. While this is a slightly different team this year, it would be nice to see our guys come out with that focus.

    JET is a classic Laker-killer. Hopefully we can keep him in check as Darius mentioned above.

  3. I just want to see Mark Cuban’s head explode again.

  4. Phil doesn’t necessarily see the Heat getting past Boston. Now, is that just an honest statement casually made by somebody who should be more tactful, or has he already begun playing mind games with Heat, Boston, and even Orlando? 😉

    I would love to be in a spotlight like Phil’s where every simple word you throw out starts having a life of its own and gets on your opponents’ nerves.

    Of course I don’t really wish that (it’s enough that my wife pokes for hidden meanings in what I say and finds ways to get annoyed) but it sure seems fun every now and then.

  5. I was really looking forward to seeing the Lakers play the Mavs before Caron Butler went down because they looked like the best in the West (even better than the Spurs) and I feel bad for him because I’ve always liked the guy, however the Lakers need all the help they can get catching up to the Spurs in the standings so I will take a depleted Mavs matchup.

  6. Harold @ 4 – “mind games” of course!

  7. I can already hear the talking heads on ESPN overhyping this match-up as the tell-all sign of who’s going to challenge the Spurs in the West. But really, one game in January doesn’t mean much more than a single W or L once all 82 have been played.

    I’d love to see the Lakers win tonight. But win or lose I’m not going to read too much into “Which team is better” based on what happens in Dallas this evening. The NBA is much more complex than the Stu Scotts of the world would have us believe.

  8. WAD UP! Here we go guys. Biggest matchup of the year! A must win game for both of these teams! Boo Yea! Michael Wilbon, since you are are expert basketball analyzer, who do you believe will win tonights matchup and why?

  9. Stewart, can you say Dirk Nowitzki, can you say that. But how bout Kobe Bryant, can you say Kobe Bryant. I can say Kobe Bryant a little more easier and therefore am picking the Lakers in a close matchup.

  10. 8, But one can say ‘Smush Parker’ easiest of all yet I don’t see him playing for a ring in June, at least not any ring I care to imagine.

  11. Had this game marked for awhile now, being that this Dallas team is one of our main competitors n the West and one of the few squads that can match our size. Coming off of our best victory of the season against OKC, it’ll be interesting to see if we can carry that momentum on the road.

    Also interested to see how we attack The Best Zone Defense n the A (Association). Will we attack it with sharp cutting and precise passing (which will crack it), or will we look as confused as we did in last years Conference Finals when Phoenix first implemented it against us?

    I’ve been mentioning/questioning for quite some time now how well will Big Drew perform when he has to go up against a team that can match his size. Even though this might not be the best borameter (depending on how much zone they’ll actually play), I’ll definitely be keeping a close eye on him.

  12. Solid start early for the Lakers. The tempo is where they want it and Dallas is struggling to make long jumpers (save Pavolovic). But, the Lakers need to box out Chandler…

  13. beautiful offensive start for LA. Love the interior flex style screening.

  14. Asking LA to box out might be a stretch Darius!

    But I have also liked the start, particularly on the offensive end. Good execution in general.

  15. I dont think anyone for the Lakers boxes out, but to be fair, the whole NBA

  16. pau must make him move quicker in the post

  17. It’s amazing how consistently the Lakers dare shooters to fire away against them

  18. Steve Blake is playing scared!!!!!!! He has been like this for a while now. What is happening.

  19. Tyson Chandler may be done for the night…

  20. i may not be a pro, but i reckon contesting jump shots is a key part of defense

  21. Why does Kobe refuse to contest jumpshots? He just runs up to the shooter and gives him a stare. Is he trying to will the ball away from the hoop through telekinesis?

  22. Well, you knew they wouldn’t miss another 7 three’s in a row, but you’d never expect them to get that hot. Then again, when they’re shooting wide open, they may make that many next half. I like our resiliency to fight off their runs, though.

    I really like the way we have been pounding it down low. If that stays the case, I really like our chances.

  23. Drew Andrekopoulos January 19, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Let’s clamp down the D in the second half and
    put the Mavs away! Give it more to Andrew down low! Go Lakers!

  24. The Lakers having a balanced game so far on offense. Defensively, they need to track shooters better in transition as Terry and Barrea will only run to the 3 point line. If that gets cleaned up, we should be fine in the 2nd half.

  25. Loved our execution Offensively … Played well Defensively, take away that spurt towards the end of the Half … Gotta mark J. Terry, who always has good games against us … Just continue to pound the ball inside in the 2nd half (especially since Chandler will not be returning) … Kobe facilitating the Offense beautifully. Hopefully he keeps it up and picks his spots to attack … Keep the turnovers and long jumpers to a minimum so they can not get out on the break

  26. we can win this game so easily, just run back in transition and find their shooters, EASY

  27. mmm, Kidd is scoring at will?

  28. Is it Nash out there?

  29. Man….I will tell you, it is becoming a common thing with that Spurs team. Every time I see them down at the half, they then just go on to absolutely blow teams out in the second half. Toronto lead by 11 after one half, now the Spurs lead by 11 in the 4th, a 22 point turn around. Guys, we may seriously be in trouble here.

  30. Another TO by Kobe. But what’s with Pau’s rebounding? Are the mavs drawing Pau out?

  31. Jason Kidd taking shots is a positive for our defense. But, as is the case with any NBA player, if you don’t have a defender within ten feet, it’s a make.

  32. The Lakers have just played extremely bad defense over the past few games. Every team can just score at will and its frustrating to watch. The lakers will play 3-4 possessions of good defense then just leave everyone wide open. The lakers defense plain out sucks. It’s no other way to describe.

    And Phil hates to call timeouts but loves to call times about 5 minutes after he should’ve called one. What is the possible reason to call a timeout with 30 seconds left in a quarter. The same exact thing happens to the lakers every single time they play against a quality opponent.

  33. How freaking pathetic, I can live with Dirk beating this team but Jason kidd? I mean good lord most people at the local Rec center would hit 50% of these wide open shots.

  34. When was the last time Dallas missed a shot? Or the Lakers contested a shot?

  35. Regardless of how well the Lakers shot the ball in the first half, I was 100% they would lose this game. Injuries or not, there’s no way Dallas loses seven in a row. It’s been 11 years since that happened & they just aren’t that bad.

    Amen @ 29. The Spurs are KILLING me inside.

  36. Wow, just wow.

    The Lakers are practically zombies on defense. No, actually that’s an insult to zombies. How hard is to not leave three point shooters completely wide open?

  37. our defense this quarter = a complete joke…really for the whole game to this point. what a disappointing effort on the defensive end so far.

  38. 21 points for Jason Kidd is mindblowingly awful defense

  39. Looks like we are going to lose to another quality opponent. This one to a depleted squad and a team that had lost 6 straight. And still, without a win against a strong team on the road, unless you want to count the Hornets. Now 0-3 against the elite teams if we lose this game, which after that pitiful 3rd quarter, I say we are about to do.

  40. Phil please take Luke out he brings nothing to the table at all

  41. Is Luke on crack? What kind of shot was that????

  42. what on earth does Luke think he is doing??

  43. Walton, really? I’m speechless…

  44. Why are Luke Walton and Shannon Brown out there right now? This is a joke.

  45. I really, really, REALLY miss Matt Barnes right now…

  46. I just hope at least one game he goes with Kobe and Gasol most of the 4th quarter. Show that he at least cares about winning. But Kobe is going to come in and take every shot. The lakers will continue to give up wide open shot after wide open shot and lose. This team is just extremely disappointing. Is it too much to ask for a championship team to at least contest a shot?

  47. now we shall see if we live by, or die further with kobe.

  48. And here it goes, the team is going to rely on Kobe to get them back into the game

  49. This team defends the pick-and-roll about as badly as humanly possible. Good grief.

  50. Joel seriously it reminds me of the days when Shaq wouldn’t even attempt to guard the P&R

  51. The pick and roll has been around for a long time. What do the Lakers do in practice? It’s just mind-boggling.

  52. Is the 7 FTA statistic a sign that we’re settling for a lot of jump shots and not taking it to the hole?

  53. Mavs are shooting 57 percent for the game and 48 percent from 3. Great defense guys.

  54. Lakers8884,

    At least then we could kinda blame it on Shaq’s refusal to show. With this team everyone seems clueless. They don’t force the ballhandler to change course and they somehow manage to leave both the ballhandler and the screener wide open half the time.

  55. This Mavs team when healthy is just as good as a healthy Lakers team, you could argue they have more overall talent top to bottom.

  56. I thought Ron was gonna stop shooting that corner 3. We get burned in a fast break everytime he misses it.

  57. P&R defense? Awful
    Transition defense? Horrendous
    3 pt defense? Pathetic

  58. not gonna win this one if we keep giving away offensive boards…

    barring a TO fest from the mavs, I don’t think we have a chance in this one now.

  59. This Lakers team just loves letting opposing teams end streaks against them

  60. The lakers just don’t have any chemistry on the defensive end. The lakers perimeter players have a serious problem with ball watching and continuously losing their man, they give up on pick and rolls, they don’t have a grasp of when to go over/under screens, they often rotate to the wrong man or have two players rotating to one player. It doesn’t matter what strategy or system they implement. Until they dramatically improve their defensive awareness and bball iq on that end they will struggle. The answer is not just to let your man blow by you and hope Bynum will block the shot.

    At some point during this season Phil will have to coach *during* games and make adjustments/call timely timeouts to get his team together when they start to fall apart. Phil waits until 8 point leads are double digit deficits to call a time out.

  61. Terrible pick n roll D, and I blame the guards (especially Shannon and Blake). Switching too early, never fighting through the screen, and there was almost always a weak side defender who seemed to be guarding nobody. J Kidd scored 20+points on WIDE OPEN looks, and Jason Terry ate up our bigs stuck on an island guarding him.

  62. I wonder what the excuse will be this time. Oh, the Mavs just had a great shooting game, thats all. Yea when your defense sucks and can’t cover shooters, teams tend to do that

  63. If Caron Butler comes back in May like he is saying he will, then that Mavs team can beat anyone.

  64. It was a bigger game for Dallas than for us, they wanted it more, and we sucked in the third with all the turnovers and forcing shots. If an NBA team doesn’t know how to play defense, it can’t hold another NBA team to 57 points. So it’s a matter of desire to play right.

  65. I gotta admit it. The Laker guards and the Mav guards did us in tonight.

  66. #62. Bitter much? There are reasons for a loss and not every reason is an excuse. I tire of fans that seem like they’d rather the team lose just so they can feel justified in their negative take on the team. Even in wins fans complain that it didn’t much because of the quality of the opponent or because the other team didn’t show up or because they lack a certain ingredient that another team has. It’s tiring.

    That said, tonight’s game was a pretty terrible game from the Lakers. When I recap this thing, I’ll say as much.

  67. The saddest part of the night was the wasting of incredible games by Pau, Lamar and an efficient distributor in Kobe.

  68. When the Lakers get behind they just start shooting J’s from distance, and tonight they were not going in. Every time we missed a shot they came down and made theirs. To bad we could not keep a winning momentum going here in Dallas.

  69. It’s no longer energy or desire to win. The lakers really have x and o related problems on the defensive end. I’m sure we will all read about how it was just one game in January, but this game was not an aberration. The lakers bad habits as James Worthy defines them, have not gone away. The lakers will win games against lesser opponents with these bad habits, but will continue to get embarrassed against good teams. I was thinking that the lakers got lucky against the Thunder because the thunder shot so poorly from downtown. Well…Dallas didn’t. Dallas knocked down their wide open threes and blew the lakers out. Dallas blew the lakers out just as so many other teams have done. The Lakers routinely lose by 10 points or more.

    The lakers were lucky that they were on fire offensively when they played the warriors, otherwise they would’ve lost. The lakers were lucky the Nets suck so bad, or they would’ve lost.

    Maybe we should just stop caring if the lakers win or lose during the regular season and hope they come through in the playoffs. The lakers have the nuggets up next, which they’ll most likely lose, and the spurs and boston next week. I just don’t see the lakers winning any of these games unless the lakers get lucky. By lucky I mean if any of those teams go ice cold and miss open shots or the lakers just catch fire and don’t contested shots. That’s the only way I see the lakers beating any good team this season.

  70. I admit I am negative Darius, but lets stop with the excuses. This Laker team is not as dominant anymore and teams have caught up to them. We are more than half way into the season and the team still has not beat an elite team and have won against hardly any good teams on the road. I said the Lakers sucked on defense, which they did tonight. I mean there isnt much else to say…

  71. #69. So if the Lakers do win any of those games we’ll just chalk it up to luck then, huh? Not like the Lakers are good enough to beat those teams on merit, right? Essentially, you’re saying the Lakers are so flawed that the only way they can beat a good team is if the other team has a bad night. Which is something that only *they* control or contribute to. Okay.

  72. We are 2nd in the West, I am happy to watch a basketball game, were more than likely the team (Lakers) that I am rooting for will win. Drew looked good also, BTW.

  73. We will really see what this team is made of after playing Boston twice and SA in the coming weeks. At this point HCA is lost, the Spurs do not lose and if they do it’s all too rare. If the Lakers lose to Boston twice then catching them will be a lost cause as well.

  74. #70. Joe,
    Like I said, there are excuses and there are reasons. I don’t feel I give the former but only try to break down the latter. Again, I’m pretty sure we all saw the same thing tonight. But one extra I will add (and I’ll mention this in the recap too) is that the Lakers’ poor defense actually had the effect of a rhythm builder which then allowed the Mavs to continue to make shots that were actually defended decently. During the Mavs’ 3rd quarter run I thought several shots weren’t even good ones (by Dallas) but because they had that good feeling going it didn’t matter. (On a sidenote, the inverse can also be true in that good defense can stifle a team’s rhythm to the point that good shots get missed even when they’re wide open looks.) Anyway, I have to write now. Recap will be up in about an hour or so. Stay tuned.

  75. The thing I can’t understand at all, though, is those two horrible shots in a row by Luke, at the beginning of a shot clock… I hope he won’t do it again.

  76. Reign on Parades January 19, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Luke Walton is signed through 2013

  77. Darius,

    The Lakers are very flawed right now. They lose because they do poorly in the areas they can control. And what I mean by lucky is when the lakers play bad defense (which has been often) and teams just miss their shots. And yes when they beat a team that has played well in that particular game, it’s normally because that team is bad to begin with, such as the warrior game. When a decent team came out and played well against the lakers, it has usually ended up in a blow out loss for the Lakers. What I’m saying is that the lakers do not make it tough for teams to beat them. Even in the Nets game, the Nets had a chance to win because the lakers played poor defense for most of the game.

    When is the last time you said (in a laker loss), man that was a tough game and we just have to tip our hat to opponent for beating the lakers. The last time I said that was the Phx game when they hit like 22 3-pointers. The lakers lose its because the lakers just come out and play like shit on one or both ends of the floor. And most of the close games the lakers loss were games in which the lakers held comfortable leads in the 3rd or 4th quarters and teams came back and beat them.

    Did you hear Kobe speaking? He said they loss because of stupid stuff, lack of defensive adjustments, slow reactions, incorrect switches and rotations and so on. That’s what we’ve been saying on this board throughout

  78. ROFL @ ^

  79. #77. I’m following what you’re saying, but there’s a disconnect for me. Either things are in the Lakers’ control or they’re not. You’re point about the Lakers being able to do things better is spot on (I think we all see that). The point that follows about them then being lucky if they then win future games is what has thrown me. Either the Lakers are a good enough team that can step up their play to win or they’re a team that can’t and will then win only because they’re lucky. I don’t think they can be both, but maybe I’m wrong.

  80. Darius I’ll say this last thing regarding the “luck” so you can finish the recap. What I meant by luck in the future is if the lakers continue to play poor defense they just need luck as in teams just missing a bunch of wide open shots. I’m not saying every game will be lucky, I’m referring to games that they play really poor defense. I’m not saying the lakers are just a lucky team, every team encounters luck, but I’m just stating the lakers have been lucky in a few games they’ve won. And if they continue to play really poor defense, in order to beat quality teams, they’ll need some luck (teams missing easy shots they should make).

  81. Joel I agree. And a lot of the blame needs to go on PJ. He will never do anything differently with this team or will try anything new. As a result, the Lakers are too predictable on offense and continue to just be so godly awful in guarding the p&r. Phil believes this team will just be ready when the playoffs come, but when your not even the best team in your conference anymore, you can’t rely on that. Things have to be taking a little more seriously.

  82. #80. Ah. I better understand now. And, for the most part, I agree. The Lakers will need play better on defense. And with that, away I go.