The Dallas Mavericks dealt themselves the playoff death blow by losing to the bottom feeder of the Western Conference, the Phoenix Suns. With all due respect, the Suns would been better off losing the rest of their games to get more balls in the lottery. Combine the fact that their on the second game of a back-to-back and carrying a 10 game losing streak and anyone that ever watched a basketball game would pick the Dallas Mavericks to win.
” I don’t know”, says Vince Carter, “The fact is we are trying to win games. I don’t care about the stakes right now. [This] was the next game we needed to win.”
The stakes before the game seemed clear. Beat a bad team. Get the .500. Omar the barber cuts off a few beards. Stay in the playoff hunt. After the game, the true stakes set in as players realized that this loss summed up a bad season.
“Yeah, it’s been up and down. It’s unfortunate”, continue Carter. “This is a game we felt we should win and we gave a team that was playing for nothing life. ”
Shawn Marion was a little more candid. “They were on a ten game losing streak and on a second night of a back-to-back”, he said before letting out a long sigh of disgust. “When you are a professional athlete you set standards for yourself and your team. When you go out here and try to leave it on the floor…You can’t control whether the ball goes in the hole, but you can control your effort. If your not able to go out there and give it your all, 110%, then somethings wrong. Maybe you need to sit down.”
Marion is right. For what should have been an easy win, the Mavericks only had three players in double digits. Shawn Marion had 22 to lead the team in scoring. Vince Carter had 18 off the bench and Dirk Nowitzki had 21. Nobody else did much of anything.
Chris Kaman, after putting up a season high in Portland with 26 points, played 20 minutes and contributed 2 points. O.J. Mayo played 37 minutes and put up 6 points. Darren Collison, Brandan Wright, and Jae Crowder combined for 51 minutes and 11 points.
Marion however chose to point the finger at the entire team. “We win and lose as a team, it’s not individual”, he said. “We are all at fault here”.
Head coach Rick Carlisle decided to fall on the sword rather than point it. “It’s disappointing…We are not good enough from start to finish.” He went on to say, “The truth is we are a team of parts that fit a certain way. The collective disposition, the collective will, the collective understanding has to be there for us to play our best…We all came up short tonight and I’m at the top of the list.”
The Los Angeles Lakers’ win over the Portland Trailblazers mathematically put the Mavericks out of playoffs.
Only Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, and veteran Mike James made themselves available after the loss for interviews which is another telling sign. All three said they will continue to fight the rest of the season one game at a time. The question is: Is everyone?