Well, I don’t know what else to say or write about on my Dallas Mavericks. They are a good team, they have shown that; they have shown that they can win games, they have shown that they can play with the best of the teams, but at this time, they are having trouble closing out games when they have the lead and that was the case with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Dallas fought long and hard on the boards to stay in contention with one of the best teams in the league, kept the key guys from scoring a lot of points and kept the Lob City show to a minimum, but what they failed to do was to close out on the three point line and close the game.
Even though the Clippers held a 25-21 lead after the first quarter, Dallas was still in the hunt; they were blocking out, they were rebounding and irritating the crap out of some of the opposing players and to their luck, that play carried over into the second quarter since Dallas won the second by outscoring the Clippers 29-27, and had a tie, 50-50, but with .9 seconds left in the half, the Clippers took a 2 point lead off of a basket by Chris Paul who finished the night with 19 points and a season high 16 assists.
At the start of the third, Dallas still had some hunger and drive in them, even after the Clippers took a 55-50 lead on a 3 pointer by Caron Butler, who had was one of two players to have 11 points for the night. But after the three pointer by Butler, Dirk came right back and scored a three pointer for Dallas bringing the score now 55-53 and it was like that back and forth for a while until with a little over 9 minutes left in the quarter that Dallas took a 58-57 lead.
Dallas even built on that lead and expanded it to as much as 10 points and held it throughout the third quarter, but the lead had shrunk now down to only three points after a three pointer by Matt Barnes of the Clippers who by the way also scored 19 points for the night which included 5 of 8 three pointers because the Mavs would not guard him on the open and I mean wide open three point line. Of his three pointers, only one was partially contested, the others he connected on were wide open with no one guarding him.
So if you take and add in the two points that Dirk would have scored on the two free throws that he missed and make Barnes’ 5 three pointers into two point baskets, Dallas would have won the game. It was very evident that the Mavs were accomplishing what they wanted to do and that was to aggrivate the crap out of the Clipper players and they were doing that. But again, the biggest problem Dallas had all night long, was guarding the three point line since the Clippers connected on 10 three pointers and just about all of them were wide open shots. You can’t win ball games by leaving the lane open and the opponent driving up and scoring and shooting the lights out at the three point line.
Again I have to question this, do teams not watch game film and scout out their opponents? I know that some of the Maverick players have a history with Barnes and Crawford as well and know that the Clippers play 2 forms of game with one of those being the lob pass and slam on the basket, which we were able to contain for the night and the other is standing wide open for the three point shot, and they did a lot of that. Los Angeles shot 48.1% from the field and 41.7% from downtown, which is what helped to put the dagger in the Mavericks to secure the win.
As I had stated about the aggravation the Mavs were putting on the Clippers, it helped to cause them to make 20 turnovers in a game, where Dallas only had 13 for the night, but Dallas could not capitalize on all the mistakes they made because they were not working together as a team.
Dallas was able to contain Blake Griffin for the night, even though he had another double double with 15 points and 13 rebounds, but it wasn’t the slam dunk show of the night as he loves to do. The more they contained him, the more they could quieten the crowd.
Darren Collison led the Mavs with 22 points for the night and did much better on controlling the court and making good decisions for passing and scoring. O J Mayo had trouble at times, but he was able to score 17 points for the Mavs, Dirk had a rough night and a slow start but was able to rustle up 15 points while Shawn Marion rounded out the scoring with 11.
What do the Mavs need to do to get better? What do they need to do to win? Do they even need to look at trying to shoot for the playoffs at this point? The answer to the first question is, work together as a team, tighten up on defense and guard up when they need to; the answer to the second question is pretty much the same. If they can’t guard the three point line and close the lane, then they don’t have a snowball’s chance to win at any rate, so that pretty much answers question 3. At this point, Dallas has slipped from 12th to 13th seed in the Western Conference and 7 games even out of the playoff spot and if by some miracle that it happens, will they be able to handle any of the top four seeded teams in the Conference?
That’s the million dollar question at hand. Dallas could be a contender if they were to just make smarter decisions on the court and work together as a team and keep their self-esteem up and attitudes in check. With Marion and Dahntay Jones doing a lot of the defense on key players on the other team, this is where you would want to start; if you can get Dirk and Mayo to work together on scoring and to compliment each other, you could start there and help both Mayo and Collison with their confidence, you could also start there, but the biggest place you need to start is the core, the center of the court.
When Tyson Chandler was here, he held his own with any and every big man in the league and made things happen for everyone on the court, Chris Kaman needs to be like that and he can be if he just loosens up a bit and if those scenarios will come together as one, then yes, Dallas has a shot at beating anyone and everyone, but until that happens, well I guess the streak of playoffs runs comes to an end this season and you hope to start fresh next season.
If that happens, will Dirk stay? Will those with the one year deals now want to stay or can you even try to and encourage any big time player to come to Dallas now? Dirk is the cornerstone of this franchise now, but we all know that it won’t last forever and he has given his blood, sweat and tears and heart and soul to this organization, this city and this game. So Mark Cuban, Donnie Nelson the pressure is on your shoulders to make the right decisions to make this team better, a contender again and if not, then kiss your franchise and your franchise player goodbye.
And with that, I will bid you a good day and say good luck and let’s go Mavs!