After a very disappointing loss to one of the worst teams in the league, New Orleans Hornets, the Dallas Mavericks are now sinking to the bottom of the league with them. I can remember when we referred to the other opponent as “the struggling whoever” and now we are referred to as the struggling opponent; no one fears us at all any more, no one.
We have lost to almost every team in the league that is above and beneath us in the standings for each conference and it’s not fun anymore and now you have your best player questioning the leaders of the organization on the moves that are being made. I never thought I would hear this from Dirk Nowitzki at all, ever. He is a Mavericks through and through, and he’s even stated that, his heart belongs here in Dallas, we have welcomed him with open arms and suffered with him through the downs and celebrated with him in the highs and loved every minute of it, but I can understand his frustration.
He re-signed a new contract a couple of years ago and left substantial money on the table to be used as bargaining chips to re-sign existing players or bring in new talent to help keep the Mavericks where they should be and even though we didn’t get the 2 big fishes in the ocean last summer, we still held onto some talent and veteran leadership that you need to have, plus picked up some youth and speed that you definitely need and that would be in the forms of O J Mayo, Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones.
Now even though Jones is not much of a scorer, he has a knack for defense very comparable to Shawn Marion to where he just irritates the crap out of the other team by sticking to them like glue and is very successful at getting the charges that you need to switch momentum to your team from theirs. Collison learned a lot from playing back up to Chris Paul when they were in New Orleans during the 2009-2010 season and when Paul got hurt, it was Collison who led the Hornets on the court, but then struggled and lost his starting position in Indiana and then also here in Dallas. But, he has pretty much earned that spot back since Derek Fisher’s contract was bought out. Mayo, I have always thought was a very good player, an all around player and a threat to anyone on the court. He demonstrated that at first, but then has been wishy-washy, up and down here lately.
With this talent, you sometimes don’t know what you’re going to get on any given night and you can’t win ball games that way. Now I know everyone is going to have a good day and a bad day, but to go from scoring 30-32 points in one game to only 8 or 9 in the next game, that’s not good for anyone whether it be the team or the player; but I think with Mayo, his confidence is shook and someone has really played with his head. You have to leave all the other crap outside the court and just play your game. He is a very good player, he has proven it several times both here and in Memphis, he just needs to believe in himself in order to do it.
But there are other things wrong with this team at this point and the main thing wrong is the defense. You have to play strong, good defense in order to play a good offense. The whole thing starts on the defensive end and they have done that, but just not on a consistent level. After watching the New Orleans game, it was very evident that once they got beat to the ball, the next thing was to foul the guy and make him earn his points at the basket. Well that’s a good idea, but every stinking time you get beat and then you don’t hustle to stop him. Now there may have been a few questionable calls (sound like Mark Cuban, I know), but it’s the fact. Even some of the players are commenting on their own lack of defense and that’s not going to get you out of the cellar in the standings anytime quick.
Now the next thing is, watch game films of your opponent. If you know you have a guy that is #1 in the league in the three point shooting, are you going to leave him open? Uh, no! You guard his backside all the way down the court and don’t give him an open shot and you certainly don’t jump into a shooter when he’s shooting.
I know it’s good for people to do that for us, because it puts us on the line, but we don’t want to help out the other team by any means. Dallas did well for stretches during this game, they even had an 11 point lead for a while, then they got relaxed in the flow of the game and let them not only erase our lead, but they allowed them to take the lead. I will give Dallas credit though, they did hold them on the last possession and now allow New Orleans to get the outright win in regulation time, they made them have to try to get it in overtime.
When you hold a team to only 15 points in one quarter, that’s good, but you don’t turn around and give up on your own play to give them the breath of life they need to climb back into the game; and that’s what Dallas did. New Orleans led Dallas at the end of the first 25-23, but that was after Dallas had made a surge and a comeback and was on a roll, then outscored them in the second 24-15 and took a 47-40 lead into halftime, but here we go again when the halftime gremlin gets the best of them and then we start to scamper and lose sight of the end of the line and that’s to secure the win, which Dallas did not do and allowed them to get back into the game and have to win it in overtime.
This season has not been a good one for Dallas in overtime, they have yet to win an overtime game and this was no different. The problem they have had is they allow the other team to get an early stretch of runs and scores and then they have to fight to get back into it. Well, this was a little different, but the outcome was the same. New Orleans scored first with a bucket, but then Mayo hit a three and Dallas went up by 1 and from there it was back and forth and then tied at 96 when Collison committed the unforgivable sin by jumping into Eric Gordon to give the Hornets the go ahead basket with 4.7 seconds left in overtime. Needless to say, he made the basket and the free throw for the three-point play and now Dallas has to score either a three pointer to force another overtime or do the same as Gordon did and get a three-point play, otherwise the game is over and Dallas again loses.
Give credit to Vince Carter for trying the three-pointer, unfortunately it hit the rim and came out and New Orleans gets to go home with the win and Dallas needs to figure out what again went wrong. They have lost 11 of their last 13 games and are now 13-21 in the Western Conference with not many hopes of even breathing on the playoff spot at this rate.
So what do you do? You can’t scream at the players, you can’t scream at the coaches, so what do you do? Well you can scream all you want to, but will it do any good? Maybe for a while. These players are professionals and they need to have to want to, the desire to win and play together as a team. I am not seeing a lot of that this season and maybe it’s because Dirk has been out, but you can’t blame it all on that and Dirk can’t bear the burden of the blame either. It takes a team to win as well as taking a team to lose and if they don’t get it together quick, there will be no playoffs at all for this team this season and the best they can hope for is the lottery or good trades in the off-season. Lord have mercy, how long has it been since we referred to Dallas as a lottery team? A very long time since they have a 12 year stretch of making it to the playoffs.
After allowing New Orleans to score 99 points on 45.3% shooting from the field and 38.1% from the three point line, the Mavericks have to adjust themselves in more ways than one when they face the Utah Jazz. This is a city that does not like Dirk at all and Dallas usually has some type of altercation every time they go there, so boys you had better put on your big boys britches and lace up your shoes tight because you are going to be in for a very bumpy ride, but let’s hope you can escape Utah with a win, because you sure do need it.
So that’s where we go from here and hoping that Dallas can muster up some team work and get the win before they head south to face the Clippers, again in Los Angeles. They need to build some momentum and self-esteem and confidence before they face one of the best teams in the league. But as the saying goes, anyone can win and anyone can lose on any given night, so let’s see who gets what next.
And with that, I will bid you a good day and say good luck and let’s go Mavs!