Turning a Corner? Mavericks Show Signs of Hope

Jan 10, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) controls the ball between Dallas Mavericks shooting guard Vince Carter (25) and shooting guard O.J. Mayo (32) during the overtime period at Sleep Train Arena. The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Sacramento Kings 117-112 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

 

After notching only their second win in the last 10 games and against a team with a similarly miserable record, Mike Fisher of 105.3 The Fan was quick to poo-poo any apparent optimistic sentiment from recent developments:

“The fact that with regularity the Mavs are leading early, and collapsing in the fourth, doesn’t mean that they are ‘almost there.’ Thursday’s result in Sacramento – a 117-112 OT win – doesn’t signify the finding of a cure, either.”

However, despite the Mavericks’ recent woes which included coming *this* close to setting an NBA-record for most consecutive overtime losses, there are signs that things might be improving and since we’re grabbing at straws here, we’ll take what we can get.

Overtime losses are preferable to massive blowouts and the Mavericks at one point had a third of the entire NBA’s 20+ point losses.   Hopefully that trend is waning.

The win against the Kings was not only significant as one in the win column but as a reversal of the disappointing trend of playing well for much of the game and then faltering in the fourth quarter or OT.   While it also isn’t great to trail the entire game and then expect to pull it out late, that’s preferable to the alternative and is perhaps a stepping stone to putting it all together.

The Good:

O. J. Mayo and Vince Carter took over in the fourth.  Mayo ended up with 24 points and 10 rebounds plus 4 assists, far and away his best recent game.  Carter notched 23 points and 5 rebounds.  Carter only hit 5-of-13 but because he didn’t relegate his efforts to outside shots he was constantly at the line, scoring 13 of his points at the charity stripe.

Shawn Marion looked like the Matrix of old with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting and 10 rebounds.

The Mavericks outrebounded the Kings 52-41 and only turned the ball over 12 times while the Kings managed 20 turnovers.  Those stats are huge in covering for the Mavs poor shooting.

The Meh:

As stated, Vince covered for his 5-of-13 shooting.

The defense was better than it has been of late but couldn’t stop DeMarcus Cousins from having a field day (29 points and 9 rebounds) and if he had hit more of his 17 free throws, his total would be higher.  Tyreke Evans also notched 20 points and 7 rebounds plus 3 blocked shots.

The Ugly:

The team only shot 42.7% highlighted by Chris Kaman’s 2-of-10 and Dirk’s 7-of-21.   Gee I hope Brandan Wright is back soon.

It’s a good thing most of the team protected the ball, including Mayo, because Darren Collison and Carter had 7 turnovers between them.

Once again, as O. J. Mayo goes, so go the Mavs and they win when he AND someone else put up solid numbers – in this case, Vince Carter and Shawn Marion.   I cannot remember a game this year when the team has won a game without Mayo playing well.   It is really odd – you would expect to have a game here or there when any other combination makes it happen – Chris Kaman and Carter would be the most likely but it simply never happens and that makes this team entirely too dependent on one player who is about as inconsistent as he can be.  Of course, having Dirk back changes that dynamic to some degree but even so, it would be great to see the team win without a great performance from either of them and in theory they have the personnel.

Takeaways:

It is possible the Mavs are starting to turn a corner but the next few games is full of playoff contenders and will provide a test of how much progress they’ve made.   No one is being absurdly optimistic, i.e “happy days are here again!” but there is reason for hope that some things are starting to come together.

For one, I think a huge step will be seeing evidence of a consistent one-two punch from Dirk and Mayo but based on the rest of this season, I have no confidence in Mayo to not be off on any given night.  That leads me back to my earlier point that it would be great to see some games where any other two players make it happen.   On any given night, Darren Collison, Shawn Marion, Chris Kaman, Vince Carter and yes, Brandan Wright are all capable of putting up 20 points.  When they can do so together, I am certain the results will be favorable.

Next up:

The bruising Memphis Grizzlies hit the AAC Saturday night.  Preview coming up on The Smoking Cuban.

 

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