Dec 15, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jose Juan Barea (11) celebrates a play during overtime against the Dallas Mavericks at the Target Center. The Wolves defeated the Mavericks 114-106 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Close But No Cigar: Breaking Down Another Mavericks OT Loss

 

The Dallas Mavericks journeyed once again into overtime only to fall again, this time to the Minnesota Timberwolves 114-106.

While Minnesota was missing their best player, Kevin Love, they did get a boost from the return of Ricky Rubio, who provided a spark of the bench as he played for the first time since injuring his knee last year.

The Mavericks led 32-22 after the first quarter but were outscored 32-13 in the second, giving the Timberwolves a substantial advantage at the half which lasted until the final period when the Mavs came storming back to tie the game.  The overtime period proved fatal for the Mavs, however, as they came out of the gate cold and only scored 4 points.

Rubio came off the bench to score 8 points but added 9 assists and 3 steals.  Overall the Twolves had balanced scoring from 6 players in double figures led by Nikola Pekovic who had 21 points and 9 rebounds.

The Good:

The Mavs were paced by O. J. Mayo and Derek Fisher, who both scored 20 points, a season-high for Fisher.  Elton Brand added 15 points and 7 rebounds while Shawn Marion had 14 and 10.

The Mavericks shot over 46% from the floor and 50% from behind the arc so it certainly was a game in which they were competitive.

The Meh:

A couple of guys didn’t have either stellar or poor nights.  Nothing to see here people…move along.

The Ugly:

Darren Collison had another poor shooting night, going 2-8 for 7 points and 3 assists.

O. J. Mayo committed another 5 turnovers and the team totaled 19.  Over the 3-game losing streak the Mavs averaged over 22 turnovers per game and that is never, ever going to increase the totals in the win column.  End of story.
Overall the Mavs didn’t play horribly until OT, when everything went the Twolves way.

Takeaways:

The Mavericks have lost three in a row and that’s never great, but two of the losses were in overtime to good teams.  For the year the Mavs have only won one game against a team over .500 and many of the losses have been blowouts.   Progress?

The battle for the boards again went the other team’s way and that’s not surprising considering the Twolves are the #1 team in the NBA in rebounding differential and rebounding differential and the Mavs are dead last.  Consider that, the numbers were about where you’d expect.

That doesn’t change the mystery of WHY the Mavs are such a poor rebounding team.  Even compared to last year, what are the changes?  Chris Kaman and Elton Brand are certainly better under the glass than Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi and for that matter, better than Dirk.   Mayo edges out DeShawn Stevenson and Jason Terry.  Marion, Vince Carter and Brandan Wright are constants.  Neither Bernard James nor Troy Murphy has helped either.  What is missing on the boards seems to be Jason Kidd?

The only possible explanation I can think of is that having Dirk on the floor pulls the opponents bigs away from the basket.   Despite Elton Brand and Chris Kaman having effective midrange games and Murphy in theory being a 3-point threat, the Mavs continue to struggle.  Stretching the floor is somewhat cliché’ but it can be effective and Dirk is uniquely dangerous from long range as a shooter, passer and even as a threat to put the ball on the floor and drive so he always merits attention and often a double-team.  Since the discrepancy is on the offensive end, if the rebounding improves when he returns, we’ll have an answer.

Next Up:

The Mavericks host the Philadelphia 76ers Tuesday night in their last opportunity to “practice” with an average team before facing a couple of juggernauts, the Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzles.    Previews coming up on The Smoking Cuban.

Tags: Andrei Kirilenko Bernard James Chris Kaman Dallas Dallas Mavericks Darren Collison DeShawn Stevenson Dirk Nowitzki DirkNowitzki Elton Brand J.J. Barea Jason Kidd Kevin Love Mavericks Mavs Minnesota Timberwolves Nicola Pekovic O. J. Mayo Ricky Rubio Shawn Marion Timberwolves Twolves Vince Carter

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