Mirage of Success: Mavericks 108, Kings 100

That the Mavericks went on a 9-1 run to make five-point lead a 13-point lead when Dirk Nowitzki sat with four minutes left in the third actually explains quite a bit about the Kings defense. All game, Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni had forced Dirk into tough shots, and unfortunate misses. Defending Dirk, securing rebounds and getting back in transition was basically what Sacramento had done right on defense. Meanwhile, Jason Kidd got open jumpers, Rodrigue Beaubois did whatever he wanted and J.J. Barea sliced through the lane. But Dirk had been limited, and that appeared to be all that mattered.

It showed, when Dirk sat and the Kings defense just fell apart. So focused on stopping the sun, all the planets collided at the rim in the void. But the allusion lives: Dirk was defended well for three quarters, Dallas didn't score 120, ergo "solid defensive effort from the young Kings." Yes, yes, no. The Mavericks offense hummed. One hundred and eight points on ninety-one possessions. Too efficient. Too good.

Really, all you can take away from that defensive effort is that

a. Nocioni really pisses Dirk off, something we already knew,

b. the Kings can get defensive boards against poor offensive rebounding teams,

c. the Kings have trouble closing on shooters, and

d. the Kings have massive problems with fast guards.

I don't mean to be Debbie Downer, but come on. That was a bad defensive game. The team is improving, but it's mostly on offense. Almost exclusively on offense. This squad has a loooooooong way to go on defense. They can't even see the finish line. The finish line is on Mars, basically. Maybe Neptune.

Beno Udrih, so brilliant in the first half, went icy in the second, just 1-of-5 for three points. Tyreke Evans did the opposite: 1-of-5 in the first half, 8-10 in the second. Of course, he also racked up the turnovers in the second half (five of his six for the game), and he really does look a bit tired. Omri Casspi, who has looked tired lately, attacked the offensive glass well but couldn't get his floor game or defense going, and when (for whatever reason, good or bad) Nocioni gets minutes, Omri's going to be an afterthought.

Cheers to Carl Landry, and heck, cheers to Spencer Hawes. Seventeen rebounds for the starting frontcourt, and only nine offensive rebounds in 40 opportunities for the Mavericks.

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