Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lakers are Good. Mavs are the Mavs.

The most frustrating thing to me about the Mavericks loss to the Lakers last night is that the Mavericks played very, very well…and it wasn’t near enough.

Everyone will look at Dirk and his rough 4th Quarter, including that crazy sequence in the final 90 seconds when the Mavericks had the ball twice down 99-97.

The first possession got a spot up 3 for Dirk that he makes more than he misses. However this time he hit nothing but air. Airball. Ouch.

The 2nd possession was also a play where Dirk tried to break down the defense on the right wing. Gasol was guarding him. Kobe and Bynum were waiting behind Gasol to help, and the Mavericks had 3 players lined up behind the 3 point line, and Diop in the opposite post position. Dirk had no idea what to do, and ended up sending the ball to the opposite corner for a highly contested 3 for Stackhouse with the shot clock expiring. Shot is blocked, and chance to win is gone as they had nothing better than 3 point prayers with the game on the line.

I have said it for years. The Mavs shoot 23 footers. Their opponents get 2 footers.

But, let’s not forget the other problem with last night. The Mavericks have no depth. Especially with Josh Howard hurt, here is what happened late in the 3rd Quarter:

3:13 to go in the 3rd, with the Mavericks holding a 74-65 lead. The coach tries to get Dirk and Jet a rest while Kobe sits for the Lakers.

The Lakers roll out Odom, Ariza, Bynum, Vujacic, and Farmar. The Mavericks have Green, Wright, Bass, Kidd, and Diop.

At 10:14 of the 4th, Dirk returns and the score is 81-81.

At 9:02, Kobe is back, with the Lakers leading, 83-81.

In the 5 minutes without Dirk and Kobe in the game, the lead vanished for the Mavericks. Partly due to the idea of Kidd looking at the Mavs bench as Farmar takes the ball and scores.

Depressing, but also revealing. This team does not appear to have anything close to championship potential.

But, Stackhouse, Kidd, and Dampier played well

After all the talk about a lack of effort, the Mavericks responded with easily their most passionate night of basketball this season.

"We'll take that effort," said Erick Dampier. "But we'd rather take the victory."
One out of two won't cut it for a team that can't settle for any moral victories. The Mavericks got run down in the fourth quarter by Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, who remained unbeaten with a 106-99 victory Tuesday night.

The Mavericks, who saw Jerry Stackhouse, Dampier and others break through with big showings, remain winless at American Airlines Center. Their 0-3 start is their worst at home since they started 0-19 in 1993-94.

"It's a disappointing loss, but it's by far the hardest game we've played," coach Rick Carlisle said. "Everybody did what they could do physically."

Not that there weren't problems. For the fourth time in their five losses, they were outplayed in the fourth quarter, with Bryant scoring seven points in a row at one point to push the Lakers up 94-86. Stackhouse was scrappy at both ends of the floor and tried to lead the Mavericks back. But the Mavericks botched several chances in the final three minutes after they had drawn within 99-97.

Wasted was Jason Kidd's first triple-double of the season and 101st of his career, along with Erick Dampier's 11 points and 16 rebounds, 12 of them at the offensive end.

The Mavericks had 22 turnovers, which the Lakers converted into 26 points. "That's probably where the game is lost," Carlisle said. "A lot of those are uncontested and those were momentum plays."

Three of the giveaways came in the final 45 seconds, when the Mavericks still had a legitimate chance to win. Down by two, they went 1-of-5 from the field in addition to the turnovers in the final two minutes.

"We had a lot of opportunities at the end, and I couldn't really get a ball in the basket to help our team," said Dirk Nowitzki, who had questioned his team's effort after road losses at Denver and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Nowitzki was 1-of-9 in the second half and didn't score after a jumper at the 10:14 mark of the third quarter. The Mavericks, playing without Josh Howard, tightened their rotation and placed six players in double figures.

However, Bryant led the Lakers with 27 points and got wonderful support from Trevor Ariza (13 points), Pau Gasol (22 points, 11 boards) and Lamar Odom (12 points).

Let’s also check the weekly NFL tracking projects, brought to you by TC…

How often does a team win when they have a 100 yard runner?

In Week 10, 7-0!

Adrian Peterson MIN GB 192 Win, 28-27
Thomas Jones NYJ STL 149 Win, 47-3
DeAngelo Williams CAR OAK 140 Win, 17-6
Brandon Jacobs NYG PHI 126 Win, 36-31
Willis McGahee BAL HOU 112 Win, 41-13
BenJarvus Green-Ellis NE BUF 105 Win, 20-10
Ricky Williams MIA SEA 105 Win, 21-19

And for the season, the teams with 100 yard rushers go to a solid 46-14 for a win percentage of 77%

We always have found that is more related to winning than the 300 yard passer.

In week 10, the 300 yard passer is 3-1:

Jay Cutler DEN CLE 447 Win, 34-30
Drew Brees NO ATL 422 Loss, 20-34
Kurt Warner ARI SF 328 Win, 29-24
Philip Rivers SD KC 316 Win, 20-19

For the season, the 300 yard passers have a record of 29-15, or 66%

And finally, traditionally the most powerful single statistic linked to winning is
the turnover battle.

In week 10, however, it was not very convincing:

Winners of the Turnover battle were just 6-5.

Teams that beat the trend: Miami (-1), New England (-1), Carolina (-1), San Diego (-2), and a very rare (-3) win for Minnesota.

Winners of the Turnover battle year to date: 91-26 (78%)

Blogging the Boys visits the Roy Williams addition …Romo and Williams have yet to stand on the field together…

Hard to fathom that its been over a month since we've seen Tony Romo under center for the Cowboys. Before he went down though it was obvious that something needed to jumpstart this offense; things just didn't feel right. Well, insert Roy Williams into the starting lineup and things get jumping pretty quick. Only problem is that as Williams is waltzing onto the field Romo was walking off with a cast on his hand.
Roy Williams has played in three games for the Cowboys, and has three catches. One of those catches was absolutely spectacular, and is just a glimpse of what he can do if the dang quarterback would just chunk it up to him. In the words of Terrell Owens, he can't throw himself the ball.

For the first time since the big trade, we now have the chance to see what this offense can become when all of it's weapons are in place. Tony Romo, Terrell Owens, Jason Witten, Roy Williams, Marion Barber and (possibly) Felix Jones are all going to take the the field against the Redskins Sunday night. If Jason Garrett can't find a way to utilize them properly then he needs to sign up for some extra classes at Princeton.

The addition of Roy Williams into the mix is huge. His presence should open things up for Owens and take the pressure off an ailing Witten. What Tony Romo needs to realize is just what kind of receiver he has at his disposal. Throw it up to him and Williams will find a way to catch it. He is a force across the middle and a threat on the outside. If this offense starts to play up to its potential then a late season run is no longer a question but a certainty. The chemistry of Romo and Williams will be the key to unlocking the magic that existed last season.

One thing is for certain though, you have to actually throw it to him to give him a chance and that is all Romo needs to do.

Stars close, but no cigar

The three minutes of power-play time went up on the board with one minute remaining in regulation. For the Dallas Stars, this was their big chance to get the two points they desperately needed.

But like too many other chances, the Stars let this one get away, too.

Jere Lehtinen scored in his season debut and Mike Modano added his fifth goal, but the Stars could do nothing with three minutes of power play over regulation and overtime in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Kings on Tuesday night.

Mike Ribeiro, who was boarded by Dustin Brown late in regulation, got stitched up and returned for a sweet one-handed goal that forced the shootout into a fifth round. But Alexander Frolov’s wrister went through Marty Turco’s legs, sealing it for the Kings.

Once again, the Stars left the ice unsatisfied.

“The goal was to get two points, we only got one,” coach Dave Tippett said. “Our game is starting to come, but we need to turn that into results. When you’re playing division teams, you need to get points.”

Brenden Morrow, who fought with Brown after the hit on Ribeiro, was assessed an instigator as well as fighting and 10-game misconduct penalties. Under NHL rules, a player receiving an instigator within the final five minutes of regulation (or any time in overtime) is suspended for one game. If the suspension is imposed, the coach is also fined $10,000.

The league, however, reviews every incident of this type and could rescind the suspension.

“I think it’s a hockey play and I don’t expect anything,” Morrow said. “I’d be a little disappointed in the league if something like that was changed.”

Meanwhile, out of that fracas Brown was assessed five minutes each for boarding and fighting, giving the Stars three minutes’ worth of power play that continued into overtime. But the golden chance came and went with the Stars garnering few good opportunities.

Tim Griffin’s mailbag

Chris Coney from Austin writes: The final USA Today Coaches' Poll of the regular season needs to be made public. I am sending this to everyone I can find. If the next-to-last coaches' poll has a bearing on the Big 12 South Division champion, this poll has to be made public. I leave the explanation as to why this is absolutely imperative as to why this is absolutely imperative to the intelligent, professional writers who can explain it better than me.

Tim Griffin: Chris, you do a pretty good job, if you ask me. You are absolutely right. With so much riding on that potential poll, it must be made public and the Big 12 itself should be the one demanding the results are made public for full scrutiny.

I actually think that settling a potential three-way tie involving Big 12 South teams would make coaches vote with their self-interests first as much as if a BCS bowl berth was riding on it.

And as I've mentioned in previous mailbags, Texas Tech coach Mike Leach and Texas coach Mack Brown both have votes in the USA Today poll and Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops does not. It would be interesting to see how that would play a part in the potential voting.

Kyle from Stillwater, Okla., writes: Tim, I was just wondering if you could go ahead and play out the next few weeks in the Big 12 and tell us how you believe the BCS will play out for the Big 12.

Tim Griffin: OK, Kyle. I'll do it. Just don't put the down payment on your house on my predictions.

In the North, I think Missouri wins at Iowa State and Texas beats Kansas this week, giving the North title to the Tigers.

If only the South was as easy to extrapolate. But I think Texas will win this week and Oklahoma State beats Colorado to remain with two losses.

Next week, I think Oklahoma beats Texas Tech to throw the South Division race into a three-way tie. And in the final week of the season, Texas will defeat Texas A&M, Texas Tech will beat Baylor and Oklahoma will beat Oklahoma State.

That would throw three teams into a tie for the Big 12 title. And it will make the conference utilize the BCS rankings as the fifth tiebreaker. And at the time of the end of the regular season, I'll predict that Oklahoma barely noses out Texas for the South Division title based on those BCS standings. The reason will be the boost that the closing rush the Sooners receive at the end of the regular season with their two late victories over Tech and Oklahoma State. Even with the loss to Texas earlier in the season, I'm guessing that Oklahoma jumps the Longhorns for the BCS title-game berth.

And in the championship game, I expect Oklahoma will beat Missouri. The conference's two BCS teams will then be Oklahoma and Texas. And if Florida and Alabama both lose another game between now and the end of the regular season, we might end up seeing a rematch of the "Red River Rivalry" at the BCS Championship Game Jan. 8 in Miami. Which would only be fitting considering that the game played Oct. 11 between the two teams at the Cotton Bowl might have been the best in the rivalry in the last 10 years or so.

Just when you thought that Sports were depressing you, Brent and the General hook up??? GOLD! GOLD! GOLD!

Former Texas Tech basketball coach Bob Knight will return to ESPN this season as an analyst at games and in the studio. Knight joined ESPN as a studio analyst last season during the network's Championship Week and stayed through the NCAA Tournament. This season, he will work Thursday night conference games with Brent Musburger and select nonconference games with Dan Shulman. In addition, he'll work on College GameDay studio shows and offer analysis on SportsCenter through the Final Four.

Email from p1:

Please check out my fledging sports blog. I think its fun stuff. I am just a sports fan who likes to write ... Hope you enjoy


Oh dear. They don’t make chairs like they used to…

Kevin Garnett has class….or does he?


Jake said...

Bob, hit the nail on the head re: the Mavs last night. Dirk had a major bag and they simply ran out of steam in the 4th quarter. Guess I'll have to google the trade deadline cause Cuban and Donnie have to do something with this mess, which might involve a Germinator deal. No?

I know this has probably been asked before but did the Mavs consider Artest in the offseason? Sure, he's a mess but a mess that can score from anywhere on the court.

Andy D. said...

I think we will know everything we need to about this team after 20 games. If they are 8-12 or around that, this era of Mavs basketball that started with Nellie and has pieced together parts will be over... Dirk will not be on this team 2 years from now. Period. He doesnt want to be here anymore.

20 games folks... then we will see Cuban under some severe heat.

Jay Beerley said...

I could not believe that Garnett was allowed to do that. First of all, how about some Dikembe copyright infringement. But secondly, isn't there a specific rule against that? If not, I'm sure it'll follow Sean Avery status and have a rule made after that. I know he now has a ring, but what makes Garnett so untouchable? The guy is a little bit of a mental case. He is genuinely scary.

Josh said...

As depressing as watching the Mavs game was (why'd I waste the space on my Tivo), witnessing the anti-clutch Stars squander a great opportunity to leave California with 4 points really hurt. And they really could have had 5 had Turco not had a massive brainfart in SJ.

The basketball world still doubt's the Mavericks' abilities since the Golden State series. The Stars were just in the conference finals mere months ago and are loaded with FAR more talent. How do you even explain what is happening on the ice in Dallas?