Mavericks 105, Warriors 100 - Dirk Nowitzki's Defense Secures Win, Stephen Curry's Turnovers Costly

Turnovers and free throws doomed the Warriors once, again. For once, Warriors showed life in the first quarter and their hustle throughout the game kept this closer than it could have been. Plus, meet tonight's Warrior Killer combo offt he bench for Dallas: Alexis Ajinca and Ian Mahinmi

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Warriors-Mavericks: Monta Ellis Very Particular About His Balls

Golden State of Mind post-game linkage from last night’s Warriors defeat to the Mavericks, 105-100, gives a glimpse of what locals writers are all collectively thinking about the Warriors being out of sync. There’s some interesting stuff in there (as there is always is from IQofaWarrior), but check out this quote from Monta Ellis (via Warriors.com):

On tonight’s game:
“We played hard all 48 minutes. We just made careless mistakes at the wrong time. Just mistakes that were made trying to make the right play. I think this was our only game this season where we actually played 48 minutes. It was a tough battle, we knew what we were coming into and I think we played great. But, that said, we just made mistakes at the end to make it a burden on us.”

Clearly, they know that mistakes (and ensuing fast break points the other end) have hurt them. And it is true, the Warriors did play hard all 48 minutes. I mean, the starters (except Biedrins) each literally almost played the whole game. Dorell Wright played the most at 44.

But what seemed to stand out in IQofaWarrior’s linkage, to me at least, were some Tweets. Particularly how much Ellis cares about his balls. From Marcus Thompson II:

gswscribe: Monta shot an airball in practice. His response: “Change balls.” Yes, of course, they did swap out the ball.

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NBA Scores and Standings: Mapping the Western Conference - December 7, 2010 on SB Nation Bay AreaConference

Recap of Tuesday’s Western Conference Action

Denver Nuggets 98 @ Charlotte Bobcats 100

I was as surprised as you were when I saw this final, but give credit to the Boring Bobcats, who put an end to the Nuggets’ seven game winning streak behind solid play from Stephen Jackson (23 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists), Gerald Wallace (20 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists) and D.J. Augustin (18 points, 6 assists). Tyrus Thomas even scored 16 points and grabbed 4 boards in a miniscule 15:22 of run (Larry Brown, I’m going to start giving you a hard time again for not playing this guy). Meanwhile, Chauncey Billups scored 25 for the Nuggets, but his potential game-tying jumper at the buzzer bounced off the rim. Carmelo scored 22, though on 8-for-21 shooting.

Detroit Pistons 83 @ Houston Rockets 97

I was as surprised as you were when I saw this final… until I remembered that the Pistons are pretty poor this year. Luis Scola beasted it up with 35 points and12 boards, while the Rockets also got 22 and 21 from Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin, respectively. Rodney Stuckey led the Pistons with 18 points, but three of his fellow starters - Rip Hamilton, Ben Wallace, and Jason Maxiell – combined for just 14 points.

Washington Wizards 108 @ LA Lakers 115

The Lakers seem to be getting things back on track, knocking off the Wizards and the Nick Young homecoming party for their second win in a row. Kobe scored 32, Pau had an awesome all around game (21 points, 14 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 blocks), and Lamar went 24/7 on 8-for-12 shooting. Meanwhile, LA native Nick Young went off for a season-high 30 points off the bench, while John Wall double-doubled with 22 points and 14 assists.

Phoenix Suns 99 @ Portland Trail Blazers 106

No Andre Miller? No problem. The Blazers got an all-around balanced effort from their players sans their starting PG and ended the Suns’ three-game winning streak. After trailing by six heading into the 4th quarter, the Trail Blazers outscored the Suns 37-24 in the final frame to seal the deal. Three Blazers scored 20+, with Wesley Matthews leading the way with 24. Portland also put on a FT shooting clinic (32-for-33) that would make even Kevin Durant proud. The Suns, who shot an impressive .507 as a team, got 24 points and 15 assists from Steve Nash and 23 points from Grant Hill, but in the end it would not be enough.

 

Preview of Wednesday’s Western Conference Action:

Golden State Warriors (8-13) @ San Antonio Spurs (17-3)

These two teams are headed in opposite directions – the Spurs have won 16 of their last 18 games, while the Warriors have lost 9 of their last 10 – and to make matters worse, the Warriors are traveling to San Antonio, where they haven’t beaten the Spurs in 24 straight games.

Denver Nuggets (13-7) @ Boston Celtics (16-4)

After a heartbreaking loss to the lowly Bobcats, will the Nuggets get up for the Celtics, who are 9-1 at home? Methinks not.

Miami Heat (14-8) @ Utah Jazz (16-6)

This matchup features two of the hotter teams in the league, with the Heat riding a five-game winning streak and the Jazz winners of eight of their last nine.

LA Lakers (15-6) @ LA Clippers (5-17)

Nothing to see here but big brothers beating up on little brothers. I am, however, looking forward to Blake Griffin’s first regular season matchup with the Lakers. Things might get a little testy down low.

Oklahoma City (14-8) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (5-16)

Nothing to see here but the kids (Durant, Westbrook, & Co.) looking to beat up some other kids (Love, Beasley, & Co.) I think the visitors will take the cake in this one.

Detroit Pistons (7-15) @ New Orleans Hornets (13-7)

The reeling Hornets, losers of six of their last eight games, will try to get things back on track against the Pistons, who are also reeling with seven losses in their last nine. Luckily for New Orleans, they are 8-2 at home, while the Pistons are 2-10 on the road.

Memphis Grizzlies (8-14) @ Phoenix Suns (11-10)

The Suns, who are 6-3 at home, will attempt to outscore the Grizzlies, who have not outscored their opponent in their last four games despite averaging 103 points over that span. If you’re looking for a game to bet on the over, this might be your match.

Washington Wizards (6-14) @ Sacramento Kings (4-15)

The nightly Battle of the Uglies. The Wizards, who have yet to win on the road (0-11 on the season), actually played the Lakers close in LA. Meanwhile, Paul Westphal is tinkering with the Kings lineup, probably as I type these words. As far as the Kings go, it’s one thing to say that you’re just as good on the road as you are at home, but when you’ve won just two games in each scenario through 19 games, I’m guessing this is more of a backhanded compliment than anything else.

Through Tuesday’s games, here’s a look at Mapping the Western Conference:

12-07-2010_medium

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Mavericks 105, Warriors 100 - Dirk Nowitzki's Defense Secures Win, Stephen Curry's Turnovers Costly

As soft as Dirk Nowitzki has been known to be for his fear of contact in a contact sport, Nowtizki showed off a new commitment to defense that matches his intensity on the offensive end. The 24 points on 10-18 shooting was a typical walk in the park for Nowitzki, but it was the 4 blocks — 2 down the stretch against David Lee — that proved to be his biggest contribution in a close game. With a minute to go, Nowitzki deflected an entry pass to David Lee, which turned into a free throw on the other end, extending their lead to 99-94.

But the block party didn’t end with Nowitzki. The Mavs dominated the paint with Haywood collecting 3 blocks and reserves Ian Mahinmi and Alexis Ajinca contributed 3 blocks combined. With 50 seconds left, Mahimi alterned Monta Ellis’ drive, forcing a wild shot off the backboard. The Mavs big men proved too much for the Warriors all night as Mahinmi and Ajinca combined for 15 points and 15 boards.

The Warriors bench — all 4 players — combined by 13 points.

Similar to previous games, turnovers and free throws doomed the Warriors this game. Even though Dorell Wright’s two steals in the early fourth lead to uncontested dunks and capping off an 8-0 run to tie the game, the Mavs won the points of turnover battle 21-16.

Worse yet, the Mavs outshot the Warriors at the free throw line, shooting 10 more free throws and making 12 more. What does that actually mean? The Warriors shot below 50% (6-13) and also gave up 9 more fouls. If the Warriors had attempted as many free throws as the Mavericks or even shot at a similar percentage as many as the Mavs did (17-23), the Warriors might have won this game by numbers alone.

But it was the same story for the Warriors again. Stephen Curry scored a team high 21 points (8-16), but also committed 6 turnovers. His 4th, a wrap around pass in the early 4th quarter that was picked off, was reasoning for a temporary benching and scolding by Coach Keith Smart.

Monta Ellis was bottled up for most of the game, forcing shots for most of three quarters. But in the fourth, his shot began to fall a bit and his whirled and twirled his way to drop 7 dimes to go with his 18 points. David Lee had a balanced game with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. But getting blocked twice down the stretch by Nowitzki’ hurt the Warriors chances to close the gap. Lee and Ellis combined for 4-11 from the line.

But give the Maverick’s reserves some credit. Against the Warriors in the 4th quarter, Ian Mahinmi looked as smooth as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with his running hook and block effort on defense. Alexis Ajinca, who a friend of mine called rawer than sushi, became Dikembe Mutumbo for one night as the Warriors were unable to drive and score against him during the second quarter.

Warriors reserve Louis Amundson returned to action and provided 12 minutes of relief, finishing with 2 blocks and 4 points. Gadzuric picked up 2 fouls in a minute, making 1 three pointer and his other shot attempt hitting the broad-side of the backboard straight to Ellis.

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Mavericks 50, Warriors 48 - Stephen Curry 11 Points, Alexis Ajinca Looks Like Shaq, Monta Ellis Blunders

Louis Amundson makes his debut and the Warriors are hanging on!

Amundson hasn’t really done much since entering in the beginning of the second quarter but you can’t argue that his size and hustle has been much needed. Monta Ellis sat out a portion of the second and Curry led the offense (to 11 points), keeping the Warriors in the game with help from Dan Gadzuric. But Curry’s 4 are not a good look but credit the Maverick’s defense for forcing turnovers.

Alexis Ajinca singlehandedly kept the Mavericks second unit in the game with hustle plays of blocked shots and rebounding. Instead of being super raw, Ajinca, with the help of the Warriors, has looked like Shaquille O’Neal out there. Ajinca’s bricked put back dunks were ferocious and they looked good!

Dorell Wright has 10 points and is having a better shooting night than as of late (4-9). David Lee has 9 points but is shooting 4-11. His jumper has looked flat again and his post moves looked hurried.

When Monta checked back into the game with 2 minutes left, it seemed that the Warriors offense stalled. There was little ball movement and on one play, Monta seemed intent on getting his own shot, forcing up a heavily contested jumper that lead to a run out transition bucket.

Monta seems to be having another one of those games where he’s pressing and forcing his offense. And this has been the trend as of late where once Monta has been shut down offensive — Ajinca drawing an obvious charge foul leading leading to Monta’s second foul — it almost seems to drive him even more to want to score. Monta is a scorer, plain and simple. But at one point does Monta need to understand the game flow and what’s been working while he’s been out.

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Mavericks 27, Warriors 26 - Stephen Curry Leads Warriors, David Lee & Andris Biedrins On the Boards

For once in a long time, the Warriors have started fast, with a balanced attack from all starters. Interestingly, it wasn’t until the last minute that Keith Smart decided to substitute one of his starters. Had it not been for foul trouble, Stephen Curry most likely would not have come out.

The Warriors are hustling on the both end of the floor and are shooting a healthy 48% from the field and have surprisingly kept the Mavericks to 40%. But it’s not so much what the Warriors have done as much as it is the Mavs missing wide open jumpers with Caron Butler missing a slew of shots after going 4-4 to start the quarter. But the Warriors have been active on the rebounds with David Lee doing some dirty work inside on the offensive end along with Andris Biedrins, both combining for 8 boards.

Some other notable sights from the game? What’s up with Rick Carlisle’s ‘shaved head’ with the slight bald spot? And is it me or is Shawn Marion and Caron Butler both looking too swoll? Everything is bigger in Texas I guess.

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