Kyrie Irving hurt his hand and missed part of the game but he continued to have the HOT hand, scoring 26 points to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers as they played a very tight game against the Dallas Mavericks Saturday night. Dallas finally established its second seven-point lead with 3:43 left in the game but a three-pointer by Irving cut the lead back to three points with less than two minutes left. Dallas continued to push and managed to rebuild a larger lead a third time and hang on for a103-95 victory.
Oddly enough, Irving didn’t tally a single assist. Former Texas Longhorns Tristan Thompson and Daniel Gibson added 10 points and 12 rebounds and 16 points and 5 assists, respectively for the Cavs. Another huge factor in keeping the Cavs close, Alonzo Gee had 4 steals and a block to go with his 15 points and 7 rebounds.
The Mavs put together a strong team effort including six players in double figures. O. J. Mayo had 19 points and 3 assists while Chris Kaman proved to be the difference maker with 15 points, 8 rebounds and 6 blocked shots. Overall the Mavs shot very well (50.4%) and outrebounded the Cavs 42-38, which helped them overcome another game with too many turnovers (20). The Mavs also held rebounding machine Anderson Varejao to only 4 points on 2-of-11 shooting and 7 rebounds in nearly 39 minutes on the floor.
Kaman of course had a terrific all-around game and Darren Collison got his groove back as well, scoring 14 points and dishing out 8 assists.
Shawn Marion was also back to his usual everywhere self with 10 points, 10 boards and 4 assists and overall, his defense and ball movement were possibly second only to Kaman as the difference maker in this game.
Vince Carter shot 50% from the field and 3-point range in racking up 14 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
Troy Murphy showed his long range chops hitting 3 of 6 from downtown for 9 points.
In limited duty, Bernard James did his usual thing, playing just under 16 minutes and chipping in 4 points and 5 rebounds.
Finally, Dominique Jones had perhaps his best game in a Maverick uniform. 10 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists in only 18 minutes and found success when Collison was having a bit of a lull. It appears DoJo may become the new backup point guard if Roddy B continues to be so inconsistent.
Elton Brand continues to do everything but score. Characteristically in just under 11 minutes he grabbed 4 rebounds and blocked 2 shots. Unfortunately that was accompanied by 0-for-2 shooting and a scoreless performance.
The Mavs seem to be developing a new three-headed monster at the power forward position and it’s hard to know which way to go on any given night. Brand hasn’t found his range all year and Brandan Wright is getting limited minutes due to his lack of rebounding. Troy Murphy has been rebounding well all year and appears to have finally found HIS shot but ironically, played 18 minutes this game with nary a rebound. Hopefully, all of these guys can develop some consistency in more than one column.
Overall a very solid game but as mentioned, the Mavs had to overcome another 20 turnover performance. No points for Brand and no rebounds for Murphy but the team as a whole was very solid.
Not having Brendan Wright in the game as well as not finding a way to get Elton Brand active in the paint offensively has consequences. In the second half, without Kaman in the game the Mavericks pretty much turned into a three point shooting team. While Troy Murphy was red hot and Vince Carter and Dahntay Jones also connected, the long term prospects of a perimeter-centric game are generally pretty slim, especially when your team has had more than one instance of less than stellar shooting and/or rebounding.
Bernard James is developing some decent inside moves but the potential strength of this Mavericks team is in its inside-outside game. Kaman has a plethora of inside and midrange moves but he can’t play 48 minutes and apparently Brand is having trouble finding the range. When you have other strong rebounders in the game (Kaman, Brand, James, Marion, Murphy) the lack of an athletic inside offensive presence is going to leave the Mavericks more one-dimensional than they can afford to be.
Still, overall the performance was encouraging.
The Golden State Warriors can hopefully provide a second straight road win for the Mavs Monday night in the Bay Area. Preview coming up on The Smoking Cuban.