With Dirk calmly riding the bike in the locker room (and complaining about its relatively small size) Rick Carlisle was visibly agitated with the first (and last) Dirk question of the pregame, where he promptly stated that the All-Star forward wouldn’t be in the lineup tonight. He proceeded to make this statement during the pre-game media gathering: “We’ve got a lot of guys who have played and played effectively in stretches and there’s a lot of opportunity here. I’ve got a lot of confidence in the guys that we have available so right now we have to get it all together and find a way to win a game because after you drop a couple, it gets tough.”
In addition, the three broad areas where Carlisle sees as problematic for this team at this point in the season are “defense, rebounding, and taking care of the ball.”
On the Indiana Pacers front, Coach Jim O’Brien discussed the Pacers recent adventure into small ball — which forces Soloman Jones, Josh McRoberts and Jeff Foster to rotate games on the inactive list: “In Danny and Darren‘s case when you put three-point shooters around them, their productivity is going to increase. In the period of time that we’ve been running the small lineup we’ve been getting very, very fine productivity and we need to make sure that whatever lineup we put on the court is productive.”
– DeShawn Stevenson, who started, hits a three. Without Dirk Nowitzki in the starting lineup, and sorely in need of a scorer, why wouldn’t Rick Carlisle start Jason Terry and bring Stevenson off the bench — even though Terry is used to coming off the bench, as everybody knows.
– Hibbert collects his second unnecessary personal foul, this time following a rebound on the offensive end after throwing up a (soft) driving floater off the dribble from the left side. If the Pacers want to play small ball, number 55 gave them their wish.
– For the first 6+ minutes Indiana struggled to obtain any offensive rhythm at all, but Darren Collison knocked down three straight mid-range jumpers to jump-start his team.
– Brandon Rush with a triple to bring the Pacers within two, 15-13.
– Brian Cardinal with a three from the left corner. Mr. Nowitzki’s shootaround jumpers looked slightly prettier.
– Soloman Jones misses an uncontested layup. Suit up McRoberts next time?
– Mavs run their offense through Brian Cardinal at the high post. Rick Carlisle and Mark Cuban simultaneously turn the other way.
– Paul George with a steal and lay-in off of a bad cross-court pass early in the Mavs offense, prompting Cuban to call timeout from his spot behind the bench. Carlisle obliged.
– Paul George catches on the left side, turns, faces, and knocks in a jumper. Rook looks like he belongs tonight. Pacers up 41-39.
– Shawn Marion takes (another) outside jumper and misses (again). It pains us to watch him shoot the basketball outside of five feet.
– A barely-stable Jason Kidd—feet moving all over— with a three on a Jason Terry drive and dish. Mavs tie it up at 43.
– After a 4-0 run by the Pacers, Hibbert with his third foul of the game with 1:50 left in the half…
– Paul George with another jumper from the left side, this time off the dribble. 4-4 from the field and yet another shot that shows he’s getting more and more comfortable at this level of competition.
– Tyson Chandler with four free throws in a row (6-7 in the half).
– Pacers fans scream “2 for 1,” alluding to the fact that there are 36 seconds in the half. Up by three, the team gratifies the crowds wish and gets a Mike Dunleavy missed three.
– Jason Kidd posts up and kicks the ball out to Stevenson on the right wing for three. 52-up at the half.
Halftime show included two contestants who had to listen to a song and guess the TV show that it played in. Halfway through the game, you could hear the Seinfeld theme song blaring throughout the whole stadium. About 10 seconds later, however, a barrage of boos and jeers filled the arena. Neither contestant recognized the Seinfeld theme song. We are embarrassed to be in the same stadium as anybody who does not know the famous Seinfeld jingle by heart.
– Hibbert with a nice fall-away from the left side after getting physically tested by Chandler in the post.
– With Hibbert guarding Kidd near the top of the key, there is sure to be a mismatch somewhere. But, upon receiving a cross-court pass from Kidd, Stevenson jacks up a three immediately. Cannot be satisfied with that…
– Collison picks up where he left off in the first half with a floater while hanging in the air, going from right to left.
– Marion follows a Kidd triple with his second nice post bucket of the game.
– After having trouble finding his stroke in the first half, Tyler Hansbrough hits two quick mid-range buckets, bringing the Pacers lead to 67-62 at the six minute mark.
– With his excellent hands and instincts, Kidd single-handedly halts a Danny Granger fastbreak opportunity and outlets the ball up the floor to a streaking teammate for a deuce.
– Granger getting it going from the outside and extending the lead to 74-66, the biggest of the game for the Pacers.
– Kidd with his third steal of the quarter—although he didn’t finish the lefty lay-in on the break. Pacers makin’ the old man look young again.
– After missing two shots in a row, Jason Terry buries a three from the right corner to keep the suddenly cold Mavs within striking distance at 75-68 with two left in the third.
– Brian Cardinal with… the one-dribble leaner from the top of the key. Not sure that’s the shot you want, ever.
– Pacers up 77-69 heading into the fourth.
– Paul George keeps his hot shooting going with two confident trey-bombs from the right side, extending the Pacers lead to 12, 83-71.
– After shooting 35 percent in the third quarter, Dallas is still struggling to get anything going three-plus minutes into the fourth.
– Terry gets a shooters roll and Kidd hits a three, cutting the lead to a seven yet again.
– Brandon Rush buries two mid-range jumpers, pushing it back to 91-80. Mavs can’t keep Pace at either end. Pun intended.
– Kidd triple on pass from Terry makes it 93-87 with 3:30 to play and is the closest Dallas has been all quarter.
– Pacers offensive rebound and Collison jumper in the face of Chandler all but seals it with two to play.
– Pacers 102, Mavs 89.
Jason Kidd on closing the gap: “We couldn’t hit shots when we needed it and the other side to that is we couldn’t get stops. They were the better team tonight.”
Kidd on Dirk’s absence: “We’re all professionals–we’re a veteran ball club–so there’s no one panicking. We just need to play until he gets back. But the bigger picture is that when he does get back, it will make us a better team because we get a lot of shots that are contested and when he’s on the floor he gets a lot of attention that we get wide open looks. It’s funny to say but his offense helps our defense because when he puts the ball in the basket it gives us time to set up our defense, and we aren’t making as many shots as we do when he’s on the floor.”
Coach Rick Carlisle’s reaction to the first question of the post-game media session, which naturally centered around how much the tall German would have helped the Mavs tonight: “I’m not answering any Dirk questions, OK? We don’t have Dirk so it’s not a topic that’s worth discussing. We need to win with the guys that we have.”
Carlisle on the barrage of shots that the Pacers wings made: “They played well. George and Rush were the two guys that really hurt us. You’ve gotta give them credit for their shot-making but your defense can always be better. Right now I think the key word for us is precise. We have to be so precise with the things that we do. For instance, we only had 12 turnovers but it leads to 14 points and that’s a huge number.”