The Curse of Drew Gooden
Sometimes the game can turn on a single sequence. Up 2 in OT, George Hill drives the lane. The ball is bouncing around the rim, and Duncan has a chance to tap it in, giving us a commanding 4 point lead and momentum. Instead, Duncan leaves the tap short, the Mavs grab the board, Duncan trips over his own feet, And Nowitzki gets a layup at the rim and a foul. And like that we’re down 1, 5 point swing, huge momentum shift, ball game.
We played valiantly. To say we played well might be a tough sell. We were very sloppy with the ball, and had to scratch and claw for every point. But we played with passion and energy, and we had every chance to win a game that we really had no right winning. Both teams were down key players, but we were down 2 of our 3 best players, our best crunch-time scorer, and (easily) our 2 best ball handlers. It showed with poor execution on offense (especially in the last 2 minutes of the game) and an absurd amount of turnovers (18 to Dallas’ 5).
In the end, we had our chance. But our opportunity to secure the win fell about 2 inches short. Sometimes, that’s all it takes.
What I Liked:
–Defense. If only we could play Dallas all the time, we’d easily be the best defensive team in the league. We held them to 40% shooting, and really stifled them in the last quarter. We didn’t give up easy points inside (on first possessions, at least), and we contested every shot. It seems like we’ve decided that Nowitzki is going to have to beat us one-on-one. I like the call. He scored almost half of Dallas’ points tonight, yet we still almost won. I’d rather Dirk go for 41 and the freeze out the rest of the team, then Dirk go for 20, but have 3 other players go off for 20 as well.
–George Hill running the offense. When he sat down with his fourth foul, our offense totally fell apart. When he came back in, things shaped up. He is coming into his own as a PG, and has a natural feel of what to do and what the team needs. Plus, his shooting is so good, that he can spot up from anywhere on the court and make it, meaning other defenses have to respect his shooting.
What I Didn’t Like:
–Anybody else running the offense. Actually, I think Mason, Jr. did an OK job in the first half. But in the second half he got a little careless with the ball. But he was being aggressive, and had a few nice attacks into the paint. But Michael Finley should not be allowed to dribble the ball…ever. And Jefferson needs to be more assured in his passes. Like I said, this is bound to happen when 2 of our best ball handlers aren’t in the game.
–Rebounding. Again, we gave up way too many offensive boards. 17, to be exact. They got 22 more shots than we did, and had a crucial Dirk tip-in with under 10 seconds left in regulation because nobody put a body on him. The big issue is that when a player attacks the rim, Duncan will usually come over to help. Because he’s so good, Duncan will usually alter or affect the shot so that it misses. But because Duncan came over to help, the weak side of the basket is now unprotected, and either Duncan’ man or the other big sneaks in and grabs the rebound. Rebounding is a team effort, and we need the weak side players to step in there and help secure the board. I can’t stand watching us unable to finish defensive possessions.
–The ugly numbers. 18 turnovers. 17 Dallas offensive rebounds. 8 Dallas steals to our 1. 46 points in the paint to our 22. That last one is particularly annoying. It appears that Dallas made a concerted effort to shut down the paint and the lanes to the rim, and, for the most part, we let them. I’d like to see us be more aggressive, and let our offense dictate what it does, rather than reacting to the other team’s defense.
–It was nice to see Hairston get some quality minutes. He had a couple nice attacks at the rim (one was overturned by a traveling call that seemed dubious in real time). It seems unrealistic to expect him to earn important minutes this season, but it’d be nice to see him get some comfort on the floor so that he can be a reliable deep bench and situational player.
–Hill sure does seem to miss a lot of lay-ups at the rim. He’ll have to ask Tony what the secret is to getting those balls to spin in. Once he can consistently convert his drives, he’ll be an almost unstoppable offensive player.
This is a tough call, as nobody really stood out with an all-around great performance. Duncan put up great numbers and carried us for stretches, but his shooting was poor and missed a couple of gimmes that might have won the game for us. I’m going to go with McDyess, whose jumper was locked in at the endgame, giving us some critical buckets, and whose defense on Dirk in the end was very good, especially that block that allowed us to tie the game and send it to OT. It’s also nice to see him get more comfortable with the team and get a glimpse of what we can expect from him when the games really start to matter.
We have a quick turnaround as the Jazz come to San Antonio Thursday night. Here’s hoping we get revenge for our worst loss of the season. There are no must-wins, but it would be really nice to get this one, as we’ve fallen below .500. While it’s still very early, I’d hate to lose touch with the teams at the top of the Conference. I don’t expect Parker to be playing, and I bet Manu will be held out as well. So we’ll go to war with the same team we had tonight. After logging heavy minutes tonight, we’ll be tired; but we’ll be hungry, and I hope we’ll be aggressive. I like our chances.
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