There is nothing wrong with losing to a team as good as the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs lead the NBA, averaging 109.7 points per game, rank second in field goal percentage, first in offensive rating (a ridiculous 114.1 points scored per 100 possessions, well ahead of second-place Toronto’s 110.7), tops in assist-to-turnover ratio and second in effective field goal percentage. It is not hyperbole to say this Dallas squad boasts one of the five best attacks we’ve seen in the NBA in the past 10-15 years.
- Dallas spreads out opponents with lethal three-point shooters everywhere, Dirk Nowitzki remains a sublime, nearly unstoppable force, Monta Ellis can score at will and Tyson Chandler and Brandon Wright are too long and athletic to contain inside and get a ton of easy buckets and put-backs. Whether it’s pick-and-rolls, pick-and-pops or getting easy points off of turnovers, these Mavericks are for real (as Dwane Casey said afterward, they’ll be in the money in the West when it’s all said and done).
- Dallas forces a lot of turnovers, but the Raptors were quite sloppy on Friday night too. The team had 17 miscues, nearly twice what they had been averaging coming in (11.2, behind only New Orleans for fewest per game in the NBA) to go with only 17 assists. Meanwhile, Dallas had a ridiculous 27 assists and just eight turnovers. Looking at that number, it is pretty amazing that the Raptors even made a game out of it in the end. 95% of the time, a team will have no chance against an opponent operating at that absurd level of efficiency.
- The turnovers weren’t just one guy having a rough night, six players had at least two, but the starters only had six turnovers – total, none by Jonas Valanciunas in his 28 minutes, which is an excellent sign.
- Amir Johnson had one of his best outings of the season, scoring 20 points, grabbing six offensive rebounds. Johnson was a force, helping compensate for the loss of DeMar DeRozan due to a groin injury. Patrick Patterson also was excellent, turning in a 10 point, 12 rebound double-double. Johnson and Patterson combined to haul in 10 offensive rebounds, four more than the entire Dallas team managed. The board-work (55-37 edge overall) helped keep Toronto in this one.
- Credit Valanciunas for bouncing back after getting dominated by Chandler in the first half. Valanciunas was a different player in his 12 second half minutes, grabbing eight rebounds and scoring eight points. He had no points and five boards through the first two quarters. Chandler still had a big third, but did nothing in the fourth (though Valanciunas only played half of the fourth).
- Currently at practice awaiting word on DeRozan’s status. Not much is known at this point.
- Caught up with Mavs owner Mark Cuban for a one-on-one pre-game and he said Dallas doesn’t win the 2011 title without Casey. Also, was in a scrum with another one of the NBA’s best entertainers, Jalen Rose, and he did not disappoint.
One Jalen quote that didn’t make the paper, on the growth of Canadian basketball: “I’m happy to see the growth that Canada and Toronto in particular has had in basketball. Wiggins came up earlier, being the No. 1 pick, Anthony Bennett, I played with Steve Nash, who is a two-time MVP, so it’s not a novelty anymore, for a lot of people to feel: can they really play ball in Toronto? I remember being in eighth grade, I came over here with Michigan AAU, when I was rebounding, that was the only way they were going to keep me around, I was the ball boy. Run and get the Gatorades, rebound for the team. I remember standing on the baseline and we had some great players on our team, Steve Smith, a lot of notables. But I was watching the other end, watching the Toronto players warm up and it was between the legs, 360, I’m like ‘You guys are going to get killed.’ That’s what I told them. They said ‘Well if they beat us, you’re going to stay here with them.’ Fortunately it was a good game and Michigan won, but I knew at that time that Toronto was on the rise.”
- Rose also said the misconceptions about Toronto as a basketball city are gone: ” I think people get the message now. You don’t hear the mumbling and groaning about players re-signing here. You just got Lou Williams to sign, Kyle Lowry re-signed, DeMar’s on his second contract, Amir’s been here for a long time. I think that novelty is over as it relates to winning. And when you follow winning in the NBA, it always starts from the top down. And I appreciate what Tim Leiweke has done with the franchise, creating a culture, bringing in Masai, who undid a lot of moves in the past that probably weren’t the best moves. So now the city has a team they can really be proud of.”
- One Greivis Vasquez post-game quote: “We have just got to continue to grind. It’s not the end of the world. We lost a game. So what? On to the next one. We get better. We have to defend better. We have to rebound better. We have to play transition defence better. We have to do a lot of different things better. But we’re still, what, 13-3? That’s a pretty good record to me … We fought, we don’t give up that’s one thing about our team that’s going to win us a lot of games down the road
- OK, can never keep the Greivis quotes short because he’s an almost Jalen-level orator. On who steps up if DeRozan has to sit out: “I think we’ve got one of the best, and I say this in a humble way, benches in the league. Somebody else is going to step up. Lou will step in or myself or James or whatever coach wants to do. Now he’s got a squad. He’s got a team. And now he needs to, and he will, put it together. Somebody went down and we almost won. That wasn’t good enough. I think we have guys that can step up and do their job.”