Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks have proven over the last several games that basketball is a contact sport. In the first match up against the Houston Rockets, Dirk was accidentally elbowed by his teammate, Brandan Wright, above his eye that required 4 stitches to take care of a cut. Then tonight in the game against the Heat, Dirk had to again be tended to after getting hit in the face by DWade. It’s no secret that over the last several years, as Dirk has evolved his game to become a more versatile player, the more bumps, bruises and hits he takes.
There have been times that I have watched him get hit in the head or the face 8-9 times in a game, some get called and some don’t, I guess it’s just the angle where the ref is when the infraction is called; but at least the hit on Dirk’s nose was not like the hit Wade gave Kobe Bryant during the All-Star game that broke his nose and required him to wear a protective mask for a while.
As Reggie Miller had stated, Dirk has learned how to take the hits and keep on playing, even if it hurts, and I’m sure it did.
Dallas came into this game on a 2 game winning streak, where Miami had been on a 2 game losing streak, but Miami had more at stake because they also had a 14 home-game winning streak going on as well and they needed to get this win in order to validate all the hoopla from last season and the acquisitions that were made prior to the start of last season. Granted the Heat are sitting in one of the top spots in the Eastern Conference, while Dallas is sitting in that 5th seed for now, but as tightly jammed it is in the Western Conference, if you win one night, you might be as high as the 3rd seed and if you lose, you could drop all the way to 7 or 8 because between the 4th and 9th spot, it is only separated by a couple of games, so you have to be on your toes at all times.
As Coach Rick Carlisle stated the other day, their playoffs started last week and they have to approach every game as if it already was the playoffs going on. They don’t have the luxury to be sitting in the rocking chair and lollygagging around and being happy with maybe a win; no they need the win and they better put it all out there if they are going to get it.
Again, I wished we could have stopped the game after the first and maybe a little into the second quarter, but unfortunately you have to play a complete four quarter game in order to declare a winner.
Dallas started off strong, as well as Dirk. At one point, both teams were shooting well over 55% from the field and there were times Dallas was shooting a little over 60%, but it didn’t end that way. Dirk started off hot and in the first quarter was 3 of 4 from the field with 6 points and by the end of the first half, he was 8 of 10 with 16 points, and he finished the night with 25 points on 9 of 19 from the field and 7 of 7 from the free throw line.
Lamar Odom, headband and all, had 12 points and that also included 2 of 2 from downtown, Vince Carter and Brandon Wright each had 11 points.
Tonight marked the return of Brendan Haywood and Delonte West, West played and Haywood was dressed, but did not play. West finished the night with 7 points and 1 assists in only 8 minutes of play, but every minute counts.
The Heat did start the game a little flat, even though they scored 24 points to Dallas’ 29, but they had started gaining some momentum and eventually took the lead and never relinquished it. They had gotten up to as much as a 21 point lead, but Dallas at times would whittle the lead down to a single digit lead, when the Heat would regain control and eventually secure the win.
While the Mavs had four players in double-digit scoring, the Heat shared the wealth and six players had double digits in scoring, but no player had high numbers in rebounding. Speaking of rebounding, again Dallas lost the battle and the war on the boards, again tonight, Dallas had 29 rebounds to Houston’s 44.
LeBron James and Chris Bosh led the Heat with 19 points, Wade and Udonis Haslem each had 16, Mario Chalmers had 12 and Cole added 10.
The biggest disparity tonight was the free throw shooting. The Mavericks went the whole first half without attempting a free throw and ended the night only attempting 13 to Miami’s 27, there something wrong there boys if you ask me.
But there again, Dallas was getting beat to the ball and Miami was able to move and swing the ball the ball more than Dallas was and it was evident to all, including Carlisle, that this was a wash and that’s when he sat his big men down and let the bench play the remainder of the game.
The bench is usually one of Dallas’s big sparks, and the biggest being JET, but tonight, he didn’t have it in him and only scored 3 points in almost 31 minutes of play and that was on a three-pointer, that’s it. I wonder if he is going to make another “we need to make a change speech again”? If he does, I will say yes and everyone needs to look at themselves in the mirror when they start talking about “we” need to do better. Yes I know it’s a team sport, but you must have individual accountability in order to accomplish your goal and that is good teamwork.
Tonight, it just didn’t go Dallas’ way and the numbers proved it. Dallas finished the night shooting 42.3% from the field and 37.5% from behind the arc and had 15 turnovers to Miami’s 48.8% from the field, 29.4% from behind the arc and they had 13 turnovers. Miami also scored 46 points in the paint to Dallas’ 24, so as you can see, numbers don’t lie.
So what do we do now; well, they travel to Orlando to take on Dwight Howard and the Magic, who are having their own issues and Dallas needs to get this victory to stay afloat in the numbers game in the Western Conference.
And with that, I will bid you a good night and say good luck and let’s go Mavs!