20. January 2011 01:40
Every team has games where they shoot over their heads from long range. It may "feel" like they've found a rhythm, or put all the pieces in place. But, you can't go 12 of 26 "on purpose" in the NBA. If you could, that would be the norm for the best three-point shooting teams rather than an occasional highlight.
The Dallas Mavericks went 12 of 26 from behind the arc in Wednesday Night's 109-100 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. When Heather Cox, in her postgame interviews on ESPN, asked Mavericks players want went right, they talked about getting healthy, playing with enthusiasm, having a positive energy. Nobody said:
"Well Heather, we just happened to get hot from long range. We made 12. They made 6. And, we only won by nine points...so you can tell we must have been doing a few other things wrong. Our inside defense was lousy again. This may have been a one-game illusion. There's no reason to get excited."
Shooting 12 of 26 on treys is the same as shooting 69% on two-pointers. Good work if you can get it. In fact, Dallas has done this before. They shot exactly 12 of 26 twice against Orlando this year. They've hit 69% or better in effective field goal rate on treys five other times this season. But, two of those were 6 of 13 performance that don't have quite the same impact, and another was 7 of 15. Hitting double digits in treys with a percentage that high is a rare event.
That rare event helped Dallas end a six-game losing streak (and a 2-9 skid their last 11 games).
I don't want to suggest that Dallas is really a poor team and this was a lucky night. They ARE back to something resembling full strength. And, they were a very good team before the injury to Dirk Nowitzki. Just be aware that they let the Lakers shoot 58% from inside the arc. If Jason Kidd has his normal shooting game instead of hitting 5 of 8 on bombs, it's not a win for the Mavericks. They'll have truly returned to elite form when they don't need treys to win a game like this.
Lakers-Mavs was the only Superleague matchup on the 13-game Wednesday schedule (a showdown matching teams from the top dozen we selected for a study a few weeks ago). Dallas is a stellar 11-6 for the year in the Superleague (meaning they've had a lot of good wins without needing a ton of treys). The Lakers are just 5-5. Atlanta beat Miami Monday Night in a SL matchup. Atlanta is still a poor 5-9. Miami falls to 7-9, well off the pace of SL leaders Boston and San Antonio at 11-5.
*New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to pull his team out of the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes. He said he believed the recent distractions may have cost his team some victories.
Tough to make that case I think. New Jersey was 1-11 its last 12 games, with seven of the losses being by double digits, and nine of the 11 being by nine points or more. The only close loss was an overtime game in Phoenix. Let's say the distractions are worth 3-4 points per game (which is highly debatable to begin with, but we're just playing with some math). That turns the Phoenix game into a win in regulation but doesn't change anything else. Are off-court distractions worth TEN points? For a team that was bad to begin with and was playing a lot of road games against superior opposition?
New Jersey did respond well tonight, with a 103-95 home win over Utah. That might be more impressive if the same Utah team didn't just lose two days ago by a similar 108-101 score to lowly Washington. And, fitting today's theme, it would have been more impressive if the Nets hadn't won treys 8-5 (+9 points in a game they won by eight), with a 50% mark on 8 of 16 shooting that equates to an inflated 75% in effective field goal percentage.
Here are New Jersey's treys by game going back the last 19 before tonight:
Big jump from their recent norm...
*The recent norm of the New York Knicks has taken a turn for the worse. They lost again tonight in Houston, 104-89. Remember when they carried a 13-1 run into that national TV game with Boston that had the media abuzz? The loss to Boston that night has triggered a 6-10 stretch that's put at least a temporary halt to talk of championship basketball returning to the Big Apple.
It's also slowed down the talk of Amare Stoudemire as an MVP candidate. The Knicks are just 22-19 now, and you don't win an MVP on a team that's barely over .500.
Oh, a fall to .500 could be in the cards:
Friday: at San Antonio
Saturday: at Oklahoma City
Monday: vs. Washington
1/27: vs. Miami
1/28: at Atlanta
Four Superleague games, and a couple of back to back sequences vs. quality opposition. You pencil in 1-4, and we're looking at 23-23 in about a week. Gut check challenge for the Knicks, off of losses to Sacramento, Phoenix, and Houston.
*Blake Griffin will finally be on national TV again Thursday Night, as the Los Angeles Clippers make their first foray outside the state of California in a few weeks for a TNT game in Portland. Both teams are on night two of a back-to-back. The Blazers had to go extra time Wednesday in Sacramento. The Clips starters didn't burn many minutes in a win over Minnesota.