TrueHoop: Jose Juan Barea

Doubting Dallas

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
4:57
PM ET
Mason By Beckley Mason
ESPN.com
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Last year Jason Terry had the audacity to get the Larry O’Brien Trophy etched into bicep.

Last year Tyson Chandler and assistant coach Dwane Casey elevated the Dallas defense to elite levels.

Last year Dallas raced to a blistering 24-5 record before stumbling over Dirk Nowtizki’s twisted knee and limping into the playoffs with a three seed.

Last year the Dallas Mavericks made fools of those who scoffed at the notion of the Mavericks escaping a first round matchup with the feisty and physical Portland Trailblazers.

This year Jason Terry can touch the real life Larry whenever he chooses.

This year Tyson Chandler and Dwane Casey are gone--Chandler for a fat check in the big city and Casey for a long overdue chance to coach his own team.

This year Dallas is 0-2, spanked twice by playoff teams, and faces another hungry foe in the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight.

This year Dallas might not make the playoffs.

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NBA Champions often return from the offseason without the sense of urgency and all-consuming drive that took them to the top. Pat Riley called it “the disease of more.” His theory was that after winning a ring, the ultimate team accomplishment, players tend to look inward to their own goals of more playing time, more shots and more money.

It’s always tricky to speculate on the psyche of players thousands of miles away, but even from farflung couches one can see that this Mavericks squad has a severe and perhaps untreatable case of the disease of less--less talent and less belief. With little practice time and a bunch of new players, the Mavericks also have less time to right the ship.

Despite how devotedly Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Jason Kidd bail out the the boat, water will continue to flood the hull.

Riley’s theory is conveniently player-focused. It wasn’t his fault that the players he coached or signed couldn’t muster the requisite competitive zeal. But what is happening in Dallas is a direct result of front office personnel decisions that have almost nothing to do with this season or even last season.

For example Tyson Chandler had the best offensive rating in the NBA during last season’s regular season and playoffs. Simply put: when Chandler was on the court, the Mavericks scored more points per possession than did any other line up on any other team. As you might expect, Dallas’s most consistent defensive lineups also included Chandler.

Was $14.5 million per year over four years too high a price to keep a 29 year old center with 10 years on his injury prone legs? Maybe not, if the goal is to make a great run at winning again this year.

What about Josť Juan Barea, DeShawn Stevenson and Caron Butler--three overpriced (well, not Stevenson) but useful wing players Dallas let walk for nothing. On-court chemistry was an important part of what made Dallas special last year, but keep in mind that the graves of former champions are dug with imprudent signings of replacement value players.

These moves make perfect sense if the off-season goal isn’t to reload for a repeat run at a ring but to scrub your cap sheet in hopes of landing Dwight Howard or Deron Williams in 2012.

That’s probably a wise decision. Williams grew up in Dallas and Howard scribbled the Mavs on his shortlist of places he’d like to play. Nowitzki needs a stud to play with in the twilight of his career, and both would be a fantastic compliment to the sweet-shooting big man. Even if neither ever wear a Maverick uniform, Dallas will still have about $25 mil to bring in better talent next year.

But think about how these decisions must appear to players like Jason Kidd and Lamar Odom.

Kidd is still capable but has spent more time playing against some of the other coaches in the league than he has against the likes of Derrick Rose. He’s old and he’s aware that he doesn’t have many more seasons left. Now he’s toiling in what is in effect a stop-gap season.

Odom went from a perennial contender that always made the big move to put itself in finals contention to a team that is obviously renting him for one season to free up cap space. He’s gone from 6th Man of the Year and rotation player for the league’s best franchise to a player whose primary value is that you don’t have to pay him for more than one year.

Even Nowitzki, he of tireless work ethic, mentioned that his motivation was down following the euphoria of his brilliant playoff run and subsequent slog at the Euros.

In their first two games of the season, the Mavericks’ characteristically sharp passing and incisive offense haven’t just been rusty, but dull.

It’s not possible to quantify spirit, but the their struggles so far are nothing so esoteric as “wanting it.” They just don’t have as many good players and this happened on purpose.

The message that Mark Cuban has been trying to spin is that the new Collective Bargaining Agreement was the impetus for him gutting Mavericks roster. He told Dallas radio that “this is 100 percent about the CBA and understanding the impact it will have on the market."

That may be true, and it may very well be the smart play. But the the message to the entire team and coaching staff was “do your best this year, but your immediate success isn’t really our main concern.”

When, rightly or wrongly, the management views the current season as an afterthought, it must be difficult to muster the focus and passion that make last year’s Mavericks so special.

Beckley Mason is the founder of HoopSpeak. You can follow him on Twitter at @BeckleyMason.

Mavs continue postseason of comebacks

June, 10, 2011
6/10/11
1:30
AM ET
By ESPN Stats & Info
ESPN.com
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Following a 16-5 run that gave them a four-point lead with under five minutes remaining it appeared that the Miami Heat would be heading back to South Beach with a commanding 3-2 series edge.

However, as they have shown time and again this postseason the Dallas Mavericks refused to quit and they finished Game 5 on a 17-4 run to push the Heat to the brink of elimination.

It was all about execution down the stretch as the Heat turned the ball over three times on their final 10 possessions while going 1-for-6 from the field. The Mavericks were 4-for-6 down the stretch and made each of their last three 3-point field goal attempts as part of the game-ending run. In each of their three wins this series the Mavericks have overcome a late fourth quarter deficit.

After enduring an offensive struggle in the first four games of the series -- the teams combined to average 88.4 points per game on 42.1 field goal shooting entering Game 5 -- both squads shot over 50 percent from the field and eclipsed the 100-point mark in the NBA Finals for the first time this series.

The difference though was behind the arc as the Mavericks made 13 3-point field goals, tied for the second-most all-time in an NBA Finals game, doing so on just 19 attempts.

The 68.4 percent shooting from 3-point range was the third-highest in an NBA Finals game over the last 20 postseasons in which a team attempted at least 15 3-point field goals.

The Mavericks also won despite being outrebounded by 10. They are the first team since the 1998 Chicago Bulls to win an NBA Finals game despite allowing an opponent to shoot at least 50 percent from the field and have a -10 rebounding margin.

Dirk Nowitzki was stellar again leading the Mavericks with 29 points and Dallas' supporting cast came up huge, especially its guards.

Jason Terry (21 points), JJ Barea (17) and Jason Kidd (13) each set series highs in points. According to Elias the trio of guards became the first set of teammates to each have 10 points, five assists and three 3-pointers in an NBA Finals game.

Terry in particular was huge in the fourth quarter as all eight of his points in the final frame came in the last 3:23 of the game. After getting called out following Game 3 for struggling in the fourth quarter, in part due to being defended by Lebron James, Terry has outscored James 16-2 in the fourth quarter of Games 4-5. Overall he scored eight points when guarded by James in Game 5, including making two key 3-pointers down the stretch.

Speaking of James, he rebounded off his playoff-low eight-point performance in Game 4 to notch his first career triple-double in an NBA Finals game, becoming the fifth player in the last 25 seasons to record a triple-double in the NBA Finals and lose.

A main reason the Heat lost Game 5 was they were at their worst when the 'Big Three' were on the court together. When James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade were on the floor at the same time, Miami was outscored by 14 points.

Lakers get benched by Mavericks shooters

May, 8, 2011
5/08/11
8:18
PM ET
By ESPN Stats & Info
ESPN.com
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The Dallas Mavericks rode the hot shooting of reserves Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic as they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers to finish off a four-game sweep of the two-time defending champions.

Terry (32 points), Jose Juan Barea (22) and Stojakovic (21) led a Mavericks bench that made 17 3-point field goals and matched the entire Lakers team with 86 points.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this marked the first time since the NBA merger that a team had three players score at least 20 points off the bench in any playoff game.

The Mavericks bench was the story of the series as they outscored the Lakers reserves by 109 points in the four games.

Dallas also took advantage from beyond 3-point range as they tied an NBA playoff record in Game 4 with 20 3-point field goals made. Only the 1996 Seattle SuperSonics made as many 3-point field goals in a single playoff game.

For the series, the Mavericks made 49 3-point field goals, an NBA record for a four-game playoff series. L.A. made just 15 three-point field goals, and went just 4-for-31 from three-point range in the fourth quarter during the series.

Dallas did most of its damage off of catch-and-shoot jumpers, according to game-tracking. The Mavericks hit 18-of-30 jump shots without taking a dribble in Game 4.

The alarming part for the Lakers is more than one-third of those shots came from Mavericks shooters who were unguarded. The Mavericks made 8-of-11 field goal attempts, all coming from 3-point range, when left unguarded by Lakers defenders.

The 36-point loss for the Lakers marked the fourth time the franchise lost a playoff elimination game by 30 points. Three of those four losses have come since 2006.

The game got out of hand for the Lakers in the second quarter when they were outscored 36-to-16. Entering Game 4, the second quarter was the only one the Lakers had been outplaying the Mavericks, entering Sunday's series clincher with a +21 point margin.

Kobe Bryant finished off a disappointing series with just 17 points on 7-of-18 shooting from the field. Game footage showed only two of those shots came from within five feet of the basket, and Kobe missed both.

Bryant appeared to show some fatigue from all the games he has accumulated the past few years, settling mostly for jumpers throughout the series. Only seven of his 83 field goal attempts came from within five feet of the basket, generating only four points.

In the first round against the New Orleans Hornets, Bryant found it much easier to get into the paint, scoring 30 points while making 60 percent of those attempts within five feet.

He finished the 2011 postseason averaging just 22.8 points, his lowest postseason average since the 2000 playoffs.

This marked just the third time Kobe has been on the wrong end of a four-game sweep, and the seventh time the Lakers were swept in a seven-game series in franchise history.

Mavs have nothing to 'Craw' about in win

April, 20, 2011
4/20/11
2:13
AM ET
By ESPN Stats & Info
ESPN.com
Archive
With a 101 to 89 win over the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 2, the Dallas Mavericks are now 3-and-16 in playoff games officiated by Dan Crawford since 2001.

Taking a closer look at the game footage, Crawford called eight personal fouls against the Blazers on Tuesday, not including two three-second calls (one offensive and one defensive) and called just four fouls against the Mavericks. The Mavs had a net gain of six points off of the free throws on Crawford’s calls.

All six of the shooting fouls Crawford called against the Blazers, including the defensive three second, sent Dirk Nowitzki to the line for the Mavericks. Nowitzki was 7-for-8 on those free throws.

In fact it appeared Wesley Matthews drew the ire of Crawford in Game 2. Matthews picked up half of the eight fouls Crawford called against the Blazers, with the other four coming from a different player each time.

When he called fouls against the Mavericks, Crawford hit Brendan Haywood with two and Jose Juan Barea and Shawn Marion with one apiece.

If Mavericks have any complaints about the officiating, they should be directed to Ed Malloy, who hit the Mavs with 11 personal fouls and one technical to Tyson Chandler. The Mavericks had a net loss of eight points on Malloy’s calls.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have lost a franchise single-season record 22 straight road games following their loss to the Boston Celtics. Overall, Cleveland is 1-28 since November 30, and according to the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the first time in franchise history the Cavaliers have lost 28 of 29 games within one season. The Cavaliers have also dropped 18 straight games, which is six shy of the franchise record.

Speaking of streaks…

The Los Angeles Lakers won their 17th straight game vs the Utah Jazz at Staples Center (including the playoffs). The Lakers' last loss against the Jazz at home was January 1, 2006. Tuesday’s 29-point route of Utah was the Lakers' eighth 20-point win this season, tied for second-most in the NBA with the Celtics (both trail Miami Heat, nine).

Elsewhere in the NBA…

• The Dallas Mavericks had not one, but two players score 25 points off the bench in their win over the Los Angeles Clippers (Jason Terry scored 28 and Jose Juan Barea added 25). Dallas is the first team this season to have two players score at least 25 points off the bench in the same game, and according to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was also the first time in franchise history that Dallas accomplished this feat.

• Tyson Chandler finished 5-for-5 from the field and 11-for-11 from the free throw line. Chandler joins two Lakers, Matt Barnes and Pau Gasol, as the only three players this season to go perfect from the field and line (minimum five attempts).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only two other NBA players in the last 50 years were 5-for-5 or better from the field and 10-for-10 or better from the foul line in a regular-season game: Kelly Tripucka (8-for-8 and 11-for-11) for the Jazz in 1987 and Buck Williams (5-for-5 and 14-for-14) for the Portland Trail Blazers in 1991.

• The Denver Nuggets had five players in double figures by halftime in their 120-109 win over the Washington Wizards: Nene and Chauncey Billups (15 each), Ty Lawson (12), Arron Afflalo (11) and Carmelo Anthony (10). They’re only the third team this season that had five players with at least 10 points at halftime.

Carmelo Anthony
Anthony
Anthony finished with a team-high 23 points, giving him a career average of 26.9 points per game at the Verizon Center.

The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that Anthony has the second-highest average for any visiting player (minimum five games), behind LeBron James (28.0), and just ahead of Karl Malone (26.7).

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