The Dallas Mavericks and the Chicago Bulls were neck-and-neck after a quarter but the Mavs went cold and with the help of shooting only 2 free throws and committing 9 turnovers, trailed by as many as 19 in the first half. Things didn’t get any better in the second and the Mavs trailed by as many as 29 points, eventually succumbing in another blowout 101-78. Darren Collison missed the game with a sprained finger but how much that affected the team is uncertain, as much of the performance looked all too familiar.
Luol Deng led a balanced attack for Chicago, which once again exposed the poor Dallas Defense. Deng had 22 points and 6 rebounds while Joachim Noah added 13 and 10. The Bulls shot over 49%.
Don’t hold your breath.
Perhaps Shawn Marion needs to be more of a focus by design. If there is one guy the Mavs can count on every night it’s the Matrix. With 18 points on 7-11 shooting plus 3 rebounds and 2 blocked shots, he had not only a complete game but he was the only one who consistently found the basket.
Dominique Jones didn’t play terribly for a young point guard and he did shoot 4-of-9 for 10 points and 5 assists but as usual, at times looked out of control.
Troy Murphy played only 17 minutes and hit 2-3 shots including a three-pointer and added a couple of rebounds but it wasn’t enough to save his job as he was waived Thursday to make room for Derek Fisher.
Without listing the entire box score, it’s easy to point out that no one other than Marion and Murphy could find the range and the team shot 34% overall.
Once again, the Mavs found themselves on the short end of the rebounding battle by a large margin 44-30.
Finally, turnovers once again played a role. The Bulls committed plenty of their own (19) but when you’re shooting 49% and outrebounding your opponent you can afford a few mistakes. The Mavericks could ill afford another 14 turnovers when so many other aspects of the game are out of sync>
The Mavericks are now 7-9 and more importantly 3-8 in their last 11 games since beginning the season 4-1 and clearly everyone know there is something wrong. Personally, while I had hopes for Darren Collison I was more interested in Jose Calderon as a more Kidd/Nash-like floor general. As it happens, Collison is running hot and cold and perhaps needs more time to mature.
Hence the Mavericks signing of Derek Fisher. While Fisher has never put up great numbers, he’s played on numerous championship teams and is widely acknowledged is a calming influence and a leader, which is the majority of what Jason Kidd still offers at this point in his career. Fisher also has a penchant for making big shots and playing good defense. With only DoJo and Roddy backing Collison up (or vice versa) if the Mavs want to try to right the ship and save the season for Dirk’s return, clearly something needed to be done, although releasing Murphy clearly isn’t going to help the rebounding problem.
Which brings us to the other issues on the table. Overall Chris Kaman has been solid but he’s now had 3 very poor games himself. Leading scorer O. J. Mayo has been nearly absent in the last two games. Elton Brand has had one solid game against his former team. Brandan Wright and Bernard James, who have put up solid numbers, spend most of their time on the pine ostensibly because of problems with defensive rotations and in Wright’s case rebounding – but who of the proven rebounders and defenders is doing the job while they’re watching? And where is the defense? As Rick Carlisle stated, getting Fisher is not going to provide a cure-all but neither is Dirk Nowitzki. We have good defenders and solid rebounders and somehow, the implementation has been elusive.
The experiment with Fisher should prove interesting and the Mavericks will have a chance to try it against a weaker team before moving on to tougher competition.
The Mavs get a couple of days off before facing the struggling Detroit Pistons. The Pistons are 5-5 in their last 10 games so any previous thoughts that this would be easy for the Mavs can be put to rest.