The Mavericks entered the fourth quarter with a 4-point lead but again surrendered late as the Jazz went on a 13-0 run to take the lead permanently and ended with a 100-94 victory.
The Jazz got their usual balanced attack up front but Gordon Hayward came off the bench to burn the Mavs for 27 points including 4-of-5 from downtown.
Coach Rick Carlisle voice objections to a lack of calls while the Jazz had their way physically but to no avail.
The Mavs are at least playing competitive ball and they have not been blown out or dramatically outshot or outrebounded of late. In addition turnovers are down.
Dirk had a solid game of 20 points and 5 rebounds.
Elton Brand had 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting to go with 9 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
In spite of the Mavericks playing competitively most of the game, they continue to run out of gas at the end, which isn’t serving them well as the buzzer runs out.
Five Mavericks made it to double figures but it took them far too many shots to get there.
Other than Dirk and Brand plus Dahntay Jones’ single field goal, the rest of the team struggled on the floor – shot 22-of-59 for 37%.
As has been commonplace of late, the Mavs faded late in the game so despite entering the 4th quarter with a 4-point lead, the Mavs couldn’t hold serve.
More importantly the common theme of the Mavs finding ways to lose instead of ways to win still holds true.
As Mavs beat writer Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning news observed, “They played really solid at Utah last night until the final six minutes. That’s the sign of a team that knows how to lose, not how to win.”
I’m looking for something terribly profound to put in this article and frankly, I’m coming up short. It’s been said over and over when the Mavericks lose.
The team has yet to put together a consistent string of games – or even one recently other than against the Wizards – with more than one guy having a dominant game or a strong balanced stat sheet across the roster. There are no games where the Mavericks dominate anywhere on the box score. Now that Dirk is back, the promise of having that big 1-2-3 punch with multiple scorers is not coming to fruition.
Perhaps it’s just a matter of chemistry. The 2011 Champs did not stand out as the team to beat – it just worked, although much of it due to having Tyson Chandler in the middle and other pieces central to a team’s engine which this team doesn’t have. The offense wouldn’t appear to be as good on paper and yet it worked, while also having superior defense to rely on. While there is no substitute for Tyson Chandler, a team with Shawn Marion, Elton Brand and Dahntay Jones shouldn’t be as porous as the Mavs are and with all the proven scorers, they shouldn’t be running out of gas either.
Rick Carlisle has been acknowledged as one of the best coaches in the NBA and yet, he had his struggles with Detroit and Indiana before leaving. His penchant for rigid substitution patterns has been discussed for years and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of just going with what’s working tonight, not to mention the total disappearance of the team’s most efficient rebounder, Bernard James and at times, the team’s most efficient shooter, Brandan Wright who has been injured of late.
Here’s an idea: if your defense is revealed to be continually porous, how about a rotation that includes more time for James and Elton Brand? Play Dirk at center at times. Brand has come out of his early season slump and James shoots a high percentage around the basket. In theory, you have other capable shooters although nearly everyone on the team has been inconsistent and no one more than O. J. Mayo but the team’s scoring potential is not the issue.
Upcoming games against the Clippers and the Grizzlies will again be real challenges (although at this stage every game is) so it’s time to ramp up the toughness and see what happens.