Friday, March 21, 2008

Circling the Drain

Cue REM’s Everybody Hurts…

NBA Basketball is the great deceiver. You have your self convinced that you can “play with these guys”. But, alas…don’t be fooled. The worst team in the league can “play with” the best team for 40 or 45 minutes. But when it is time to play “win”, that is when the good separate from the great.

So is the case with our little Mavericks.

Moral victories? That is another way of saying you can “play with” these teams until they find that next gear in the final few minutes.

Last night, in another gutting loss – this time to Boston – Jerry Stackhouse made a 3 point basket from well behind the arc as the shot clock was ticking down to give the Mavericks an 84-83 lead with 5:08 left in the game.

It would be the last field goal they would score until Erick Dampier’s put back with :09 left.

Between, I counted numerous chances to get hoops in the half court. Here is how the game was lost in 10 trips down the floor:

Mavs Possessions in Final minutes

4:10 Pierce Steals from Dirk on Double Team
3:50 Garnett steps in front of Dirk Pass to Stackhouse
3:45 Howard fouled, free throws
3:08 Kidd feeds Dampier, Dampier fouled, free throws
2:40 Kidd drives lane, is rejected on lay-up
2:15 Dirk dives to save errant Kidd Pass, Garnett steals
1:54 Dirk fouled, free throws
1:18 Dirk 18 footer missed
:42 Kidd misses a 3 pointer
:22 Dirk drives and misses
:09 Dampier rebounds Dirk Miss and BASKET!

10 trips without a hoop. Ballgame. Game over. And Confidence Shot again.

The bottom line is this: Against elite competition, this team cannot get a basket at crunch time when it needs it. Not often enough. Not enough to outlast and outplay their opponent to the finish line. And that is all playoff basketball is about. Feel free to make plans for May. You won't need it for the Mavericks, I don't believe.

It is What it is

It is what it is.

That's one of the most popular sayings in the NBA this season, and a variation of it absolutely fits the Mavericks during this most disappointing stretch of the season.
They are what they are.

Call it mediocre. Call it not-ready-for-prime-time. Call it good but not great.
Whatever it is, the Mavericks have proved to be a notch or two – or maybe more – below the elite teams in the league.

They were bounced, 94-90, by the Boston Celtics on Thursday night at American Airlines Center as the threesome of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce was just a little better than Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard and Jerry Stackhouse.

At least the Mavericks should be able to face themselves in the mirror today. Their effort was supreme. Unfortunately, it yielded the same result as a lousy output of energy against the Los Angeles Lakers two nights earlier.

"Until we ultimately hold it [a trophy] up, there's always going to be questions about us," Stackhouse said, accurately summing up frustrations in the locker room and among fans. "We got some work to do to be in the field, quite frankly. It's not a given. We got a talented team, but at some point, we got to take a stand in the sand."

The Mavericks lost their second in a row at home for the first time this season. They fell to 0-7 against winning teams since the Jason Kidd trade.

Allen knocked in a 3-pointer with 31.7 seconds left to put the Celtics up, 90-88, and James Posey and Garnett each hit two free throws in the final 15 seconds to secure the win.

Nowitzki missed a drive with 21.9 seconds to go, with Sam Cassell rebounding, to douse the Mavericks' hopes. They had led by seven points – the biggest lead for either side – early in the fourth quarter but could not hold on.

The Celtics became the first team to sweep a three-game, uninterrupted trip to Texas since Sacramento did it in 2001. They completed the perfect triangle by overcoming the fourth-quarter deficit and applying salty defense on the Mavericks, who got heroic efforts from several players, notably Nowitzki, but not enough clutch play at the end.

The Celtics swept the season series from the Mavericks for the first time since 1993-94.

"I loved our effort," coach Avery Johnson said. "We're close. We're just not being rewarded. We're getting closer. We just have to stay positive.

"I've never really been one to panic, but I understand the urgency. Right now, it's just a game of inches."

Star Telegram ..

On paper, the Mavericks won nearly every critical category - shooting percentage, rebounds, points in the paint, second-chance points, fast-break points - but their pained faces and slow gait when all was over told a different story on the scoreboard.

The Boston Celtics, trailing by seven early in the fourth quarter and by one with 1:54 to go, scored seven of the game's final nine points and sent the Mavs to yet another agonizing defeat, 94-90, in front of a sellout crowd that was poised to blow the lid off American Airlines Center.

Instead, Jason Kidd, who made one field goal on eight shots, missed a 3-pointer with 39.9 seconds left that would have put the Mavs up by four. And Dirk Nowitzki, who played another stellar game with 22 points and 19 rebounds, was left to ponder two driving layups that wouldn't drop in the final 22 seconds after Celtics sharpshooter Ray Allen had drained the go-ahead 3-pointer.

"We were right there again," said Nowitzki, who had three turnovers in the final quarter. "I got some good looks in the fourth quarter that I've got to make. It was a disappointing fourth quarter for me."

And so for a seventh consecutive game against a winning ballclub since Kidd's arrival, the Mavs (44-25) came up empty. Meanwhile the NBA-leading Celtics (55-13) completed a sweep of the Texas trio.

The Mavs now have the same number of losses as eighth seed Golden State, but with two more wins, and they fell 161/27 games behind Sunday's opponent, the Spurs, for third in the Southwest Division.

Unlike Tuesday's abysmal start against the Lakers that had the Mavs down by 25 in the third quarter, the Mavs came out gunning in this one. They scored 29 first-quarter points on the league's best defense.

Meet the Newest Cowboy …Pac Man…

Although the Dallas Cowboys can’t comment publicly about their interest in acquiring suspended Titans defensive back Adam “Pacman” Jones, it appears they are seriously considering the idea.

NFL sources said the Cowboys are looking into the possibility of trading for Jones, but that the discussions are moving at a slow pace. The third-year cornerback missed all of last season after he was suspended by the league for multiple off-the-field incidents.

Jones has yet to be reinstated but that wouldn’t prevent the Titans from trading him to another team. A suspended player can be traded but he would not be eligible to play until the suspension is lifted.

League spokesman Greg Aiello said in an e-mail Thursday, “[Jones] has been told that there will be a decision on his status for the 2008 [season] at some point prior to the opening of training camps. The commissioner will review all relevant facts, including his conduct over the past year, and make a decision.”

The Titans would probably prefer to trade Jones before the NFL Draft when he would command more in return.

NFL sources said the Cowboys could potentially offer a second-day draft pick, probably as high as a fourth-rounder, to obtain Jones. Last season the Patriots traded a fourth-round pick to Oakland in return for receiver Randy Moss.

Packers fans may be annoyed by this, or love it

Warning: I am not sure you should watch this. But, Here is the video from Dan’s BaD Radio Report from yesterday

And another place for the same video

Fake Nick Cage in Real Madrid fools the team

Marathon Layout


MK said...

Dallas teams right now are like a great you tube clip, just one kick to the nuts after another being played over and over. It never gets old.

Andy D. said...

there are so many ways to go here...

we need a transformation from stem to stern, as Rhynes would say but where to we go?

Dirk is still untouchable, but everyone else is out there for the taking. The problem is, who is out there to take?

Dwight Howard (maybe)
Lebron (maybe not)

who else?? How much does it cost? Does anyone want any of these spares we have that surround Dirk?

Damn. It's a tough thing.

MK said...

ah, but therein lies the rub. Dirk is not a superstar you can build a a team around. A great offensive player will only carry you so far, and that is all Dirk really is. Look at the true superstars that have won titles in the past 20 years, they could alter a game's outcome on both sides of the floor. Duncan, Kobe, Jordan, Olajuwon to name a few.

Which leads me back to this: if there was any chance you could have landed Kobe this past offseason you should have moved on it. Jet and Josh for Kobe. done. Kobe for Dirk straight up. okay. Either way you would have been better equipped to have a shot at the title this year and beyond.

Jay said...

The Mavs are a collection of awkward parts. Our star player is an awkward 7 footer who shoots 3s.

Our coach wants to run the half court offense and play straight up defense and most of our guys including all our best players, Dirk, Kidd, Terry, are most comfortable in a run-and-gun offense.

We have a collection of jump shooters and we traded the one guy that would drive consistently. We don't have penetrators who can finish and we when was the last time we had a post up player?

Believe it or not I think maybe Juwan Howard was the only guy I thought who did that his first time around when he could still put up 30.

When the Mavs were playing well this wasn't an issue but over time I think it's become obv what an awkward collection of players this is.

Short of a miracle playoff run, Avery is gone. Let's bring back a more fast paced offense. I don't know if that's the best way to win a title but if we're going to win with Dirk and Kidd let's play the system their best at. Let's trade Josh Howard for a post player.

Jackson said...

"The worst team in the league can “play with” the best team for 40 or 45 minutes. But when it is time to play “win”, that is when the good separate from the great."

Really Bob? Then why do you suppose we blow out bad teams by 30 points? We are usually up 20+ at half against the bad teams.

As for the good teams, can we PLEASE tap the brakes. Good lord, almost every single one of these losses has been a 1 possession game. A bounce here or there, a call here or there, a free throw made here or there. We could easily have won almost every single one of these games.

Final note: Not one person has been able to explain to me when the regular season started mattering. Everyone said after last year that the only thing that matters is the playoffs.....but now 14 games before the playoffs, everyone has seemed to check out b/c we lose nutkick games by 2 freaking points.

MK said...

yeah, its just 0-7 against teams over .500 since Kidd arrived, its not like it is a trend or anything.

I'm not being myopic. this team is 15-19 on the road, usually a good indication of a mediocre or young team (certainly not the latter in this case) heading for a first round exit.

answer to your question: when every game matters down the stretch to MAKE the playoffs.

nice win for Rockets in Oakland! Landry looked great off the injury.

"yes! and it counts!"