I promised you these the day after the game. Well, I have not gone to bed yet so no matter what the calendar says, I delivered!
I had to rewind it to make sure I saw what I saw, but after Hollins’ dunk to bring the Mavs to within SEVENTEEN he ran down the floor pounding his chest. People get on the Nuggets for showboating, but at least they do not do it when they are getting blown out. What a tool.
The Mavs are supposed to have one of the best benches in the NBA and after the game Ernie Johnson practically had a conniption fit when Charles Barkley asserted that the Nuggets’ bench was killing them. Dallas started the fourth quarter with four or five bench players depending on how you look at it. Jason Terry was out there with James Singleton, Brandon Bass and sometimes starters J.J. Barea and Antoine Wright.
At this point I originally copied down the next few possessions step by step before realizing that not even I would read it so here are the key points.
On the first possession of the quarter Dallas tried to get Terry open flashing out to the left wing, but they could not because Anthony Carter was so close to him on the cut that their breath was combining into one aromatic sent. That ruined the set and Dallas did not get a good shot.
Carlisle saw that group was going to struggle to score so after that singular possession I am sure he put Kidd and Dirk in right? Nope. He put Kidd into the game for…Jason Terry? Wow. Now the only Mav capable of getting his own shot on the court was Barea.
With Terry out Barea is the only player capable of getting his own shot and he is checked by Carter, which is the best option for Denver against the diminutive speedster. Carter and Birdman trap Barea off a screen and forces the ball to go to Singleton who, the offensive force that he is, cannot decide what to do with a wide open lane in front of him so he starts to shoot and then realizes he should probably take advantage of the open space in front of him to drive. The result is a travel. It is probably for the best as Birdman was quickly recovering into the lane and any attempt at the rim would have been difficult at best and embarrassing at worst.
After two empty possessions Carlisle gets Dirk in the game. The ball goes to Dirk on the right wing. He drives left into the lane and jump stops at the charge circle. A pump fake gets Bird in the air (of course), but Dirk misses the short fade away off the back rim.
On the ensuing Denver possession Melo gets mugged at the rim with no call (hey, we have a right to complain about the refs after the 36-13 free throw advantage from game one that was rightfully ours was slashed to a 40-30 advantage, just horrible) Dallas outlets to Barea who flies up the court, draws AC and J.R. into the lane and kicks out to Kidd who misses a toe-barely-over-the-line two pointer. The miss triggers a break the other way for Denver that results in Nene being fouled at the rim.
Now down ten, 93-83, Carlisle reinserts Terry. Carter stays right with Terry on a four day, three night trek from one side of the court to the other that visited some beautiful locations along the baseline and spent some time at a screen set by NBA superstar Dirk Nowitzki. Birdman and Carter trap Terry again leaving Dirk open in the middle of the floor about 30 feet from the hoop. Terry passes to Dirk who drops it like the phone number of a female power lifter from the former East Germany which sets the Nuggets running again. That makes for a 9-0 run and puts the Nuggets up 12, 95-83.
After a timeout Dallas sets up with Terry in the left corner and after a misdemeanor assault two handed shove to free himself from AC’s tremendous defense Terry flashes to the high right wing. Carter was left so far behind due to the push off that Nene has to step out to cover Terry. Terry gets the ball and then passes to Nowitzki after which JET cuts to the right corner. He gets a return pass from Dirk and rises to shoot, but Nene, perhaps having jumped into the future and read my comments about big men guarding little ones on the perimeter, forces him to abort the jumper and desperately pass back out to Dirk who has the chase it down. Terry gets the ball again with Nene blanketing him. Bass, who AC should be guarding after being physically forced to stop guarding Terry at the beginning of the play, clashes to the lane and having been left for dead by Carter makes a little ten footer for Dallas’ shot that put the two in 16-2.
On Dallas’ next possession the Nuggets trap Terry off a high screen by Bass who slips down the lane. Terry delivers the ball and it appears Bass is about to score when J.R., Melo and Nene collapse on him and force a loose ball. Bass collects and passes out to Kidd who misses a semi-contested jumper as Melo recovers from helping in the lane to at least get a hand up on the shot.
As the run grows Denver’s defense gets more and more active. Barea has the ball on the left wing with Dirk setting a screen to his right and Bass doing the same to his left. Barea chooses left for some reason. With the sideline right there and Nene hedging to bottle him up J.J. leaps and throws a wild pass into the middle of the court. Birdman gets a talon on it, but it bounces to Terry. Dirk and Terry run a pick and pop. Bird and AC trap Terry who passes back to an open Dirk. Melo leaves Kidd in the corner to run at Nowitzki. Dirk passes to Kidd as Nene rotates out to the corner and Andersen rotates perfectly onto Bass on the right block who Nene left to cover Kidd. Kidd drives left into the lane and fumbles the ball as if it was a phone with his ex wife demanding this month’s alimony payment resulting in another Denver fast break.
Hang in there we are almost done. Kidd and Hollins run a pick and roll and Melo is forced to switch onto Hollins. Hollins receives the pass from Kidd and Melo fouls him to prevent a dunk. Melo was in foul trouble in game one, but he only had two at this point late in game two which allowed him to make the smart play and prevent the basket. It sure pays to have some fouls available late in games. Dallas then ran Terry off a double screen and he was able to lose AC who lost his balance on the first pick. Nene switched onto Terry and apparently forgot how good of a job he did earlier as he laid back and allowed Terry to take a three from the right wing. Fortunately Terry missed, Nene ran out, Melo caught the rebound and hit Nene in stride with a perfect pass and the Brazilian Gazelle threw down a dunk to wrap up the 16-2 burst that gave the Nuggets the win.
OK, now imagine that only twice as long. Oh, who am I kidding? No one is still reading this.
Anyway, Denver still had a couple of breakdowns and the Mavs missed two or three open jumpers, but the key was the only open shots they could get were perimeter shots. Denver was much more sound on screens and I liked how Birdman and AC have their own little trapping scheme down pat. While Denver played some lethargic defense for much of the game they did crank it up in the fourth quarter and while I prefer the 48 minutes of nasty defense they had been playing I guess I will take it.
I was going to get into the Mavericks’ zone defense, but we are well over 2,000 words so you can all go back to the days when you were in school and the teacher was about to give out an assignment only to have the bell ring and free you from the obligation. Heck, I am not going to even try to proof read this thing until tomorrow.
Mindboggling Game Stats
Pace Factor: 90.7 – Slow for a home game.
Defensive Efficiency: 115.8 – Denver’s worst rating of the season topping 108.7 in the game three loss against New Orleans. The numbers between games one and two are all very similar except for Dallas’ nine fewer turnovers and 17 more free throws.
Offensive Efficiency: 129.0 – Second best output of the playoffs trailing only the 138.7 they posted in the game four blowout in New Orleans.