The Mavericks went to Atlanta without their best player Saturday night.
They were also without Dirk Nowitzki.
That is to say, this season’s best player by far has been Chris Kaman, who leads the team in scoring, rebounds, field goal percentage and is tied for the lead in blocked shots. The Mavericks have been average with him in the lineup but without him or Dirk, the Mavs suffered a blowout loss to the Atlanta Hawks Saturday night, losing 110-94.
Atlanta was without a starter also, up-and-coming point guard Jeff Teague, who is out with a sprained ankle and was replaced in the lineup with former Mav Devin Harris. The Hawks were led by rookie Mike Scott with 17 points and had a half dozen player
s in double figures.
Not much to be happy about here but a few bright spots.
Jae Crowder started at small forward and had another solid all-around game leading the Mavericks with 15 points while adding 3 rebounds and 4 steals.
Vince Carter also had another solid game with 13 points off the bench and is looking consistently solid in a Jason Terryesque role.
Jared Cunningham had his best game as a Mav, hitting 3-4 from the field and 4-5 from the line to be the last Mav in double figures. He was the ONLY Mav to hit over 50% of his shots.
Bernard James also had another solid outing with 5 points and 6 rebounds in only 10 minutes on the floor.
While still working on his midrange game, Brandan Wright is practicing the shots and had his best game of the preseason with 9 points, 4 rebounds, a couple of blocks and a nice alley-oop from a Vince Carter assist.
Elton Brand managed 10 rebounds which is still slim pickin’s when you consider how the rest of his game went (see below).
We can almost skip this section and go straight to ugly, but while Wright is looking better and better on offense, his defense still needs work. He continually seems to be lost defending the pick and roll and Alan Smithee observed he was consistently taken advantage of by Scott, Lou Williams and Harris.
The Mavericks again couldn’t take care of the ball and amassed 19 turnovers, the third time in five games they’ve turned the ball over 19 times or more. Needless to say, you won’t win many games that way. The shocking thing is that Atlanta turned the ball over 22 times but still won handily because they didn’t look quite as horrific everywhere else.
As a team the Mavs shot an anemic 37% and 21.1% from downtown. You won’t win ANY games with that stat line.
Most notable to go with his ten rebounds was Elton Brand’s 0-7 start, followed by one lonely basket before he fouled out midway through the third quarter. Known as a solid all-around player, Brand struggled on both ends of the floor and while he’s been able to fill in occasionally at center in the past, at this stage of his career asking him to play significant minutes there may not work out. Did I hear somebody whisper “backup big man?”
It’s entirely understandable that with neither Dirk nor Kaman on the floor that the Mavericks might have a few struggles and matchup problems; however that doesn’t account for not being able to find the basket, being frustrated on defense and turning the ball over, which they’ve done even with Nowtizki and Kaman this preseason. Rick Carlisle clearly has his work cut out for him.
The Mavericks will be back home to try and regroup against the New Orleans Hornets on Monday at 7:30 P.M. at the AAC.