Coming into Toronto to face a hapless Raptors team in the midst of a six-gam losing streak didn’t seen an intimidating proposition but this season, one never knows.
The lead changed several times until midway through the second quarter when the Raptors began to build a lead they never relinquished.
Toronto not only came in with the second-worst record in the league but also was playing without two starters, Andrea Bargnani and Kyle Lowry. Linas Kleiza and Terence Ross led Toronto, both from the bench. Kleiza had 20 points and Ross 18 and both added 5 rebounds.
With a blowout loss to a team like Toronto, you can’t find much but there were a couple of bright spots and they aren’t really shocking.
Brandan Wright seemingly can’t miss and The Matrix continues to do it all Wright had 13 points on 6-of-6 shooting while Shawn Marion had 12 to go with 13 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.
Wright’s stat line looked like an Onion parody…6-for-6 with 0 rebounds. In this game, he didn’t even block any shots, which IS uncharacteristic. Still, at this point I think I’d take a guy whose fg percentage is pushing 70% and be less concerned with the rebounds.
Chris Kaman was hot early but then went cold and ended up being the team’s leading scorer with only 15 points but on 7-18 shooting.
When the Raptors can shoot 40.5% and still win the game, there’s something terribly wrong. It was better than the Mavericks (39.1%) and of course, Toronto hit 12-of-36 from three-point land while Dallas came up completely empty. The Raptors outrebounded the Mavericks who committed 17 turnovers as well, including 6 by O.J. Mayo who continues to trail only Kobe Bryant in that category.
As Mayo goes, so do The Dallas Mavericks and unfortunately the pattern held Friday night. Mayo scored 10 points on 2-8 shooting and the team went 0-for-13 from three-point land, ending the longest streak of games with at least one three-pointer in NBA history. That was just one of Dallas’ problems in Toronto, however in losing 95-74 to one of the worst teams in the league.
Clearly Mayo wasn’t alone in the shooting woes and in fact, only Marion and Wright shot over 50% except for Elton Brand’s ONE field goal on ONE attempt and for Vince Carter, his last 4 games he’s 15-of-39 (38%).
“We played poorly and they played great. I don’t know how else to sum it up. It’s as simple as that,” said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle. Sound familiar?
Lingering questions remain as to why the Mavericks keep getting blown out. What is the source of the shooting woes, lack of rebounding and turnovers?
No one was expecting the team to sit atop the league without Dirk but then again, this doesn’t make sense either. Any player and any team can slump and on any given night a good team can lose to a bad one but when the pattern continues it illustrates a bigger problem, one that Dirk is unlikely to be able to fix on his own.
The one very obvious advantage of having Dirk on the floor is his consistency and scoring which should be able to help with the double-teams Mayo consistently draws and is as of yet not always handling so well. While the Mavs are not without scorers now, Dirk will draw big men away from the basket more consistently and that should hopefully open up opportunities for everyone else and perhaps help with Mayo’s turnovers as well.
As far as rebounding, Dirk might help a little but his rebounding isn’t necessarily what it once was and he’s no more adept under the glass than Marion, Kaman or Brand (or Bernard James, hello!). He isn’t likely to turn the ball over much himself but he also is at best an average defender and won’t change the culture there either. And again as with the rebounding, we have the personnel to defend well and yet it isn’t happening.
The Mavs head north to visit the Minnesota Timberwolves, this time with Kevin Love and possibly Ricky Rubio in his first game back since having knee surgery. Preview coming up on The Smoking Cuban.