Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE
Dallas blew an 8 point lead late in the 4th quarter against an ostensibly inferior opponent Friday night. Let's try to take a closer look at what went wrong and exactly how Dallas might try to go about fixing it.
So, now that we've all had a night to sleep this one off...
What the hell happened?
Well, as Kirk pointed out, the 12 offensive boards in 17 minutes is a killer, but here's the real gut-punch stat of the night for me: in the last four and a half minutes of regulation and overtime(in other words, the last 9 and a half minutes of the game), with an 8 point lead against the Bobcats, Dallas made two field goals. Two field goals in 9 and a half minutes. A three by Carter, and a miracle layup from Collison. In that same stretch they committed 8 fouls, resulting in 9 free throws, and turned the ball over 4 times.
9 and a half minutes, 2 field goals, 8 fouls, 4 to's. Against a non-playoff team who was barely mounting a competent comeback, shooting 9-23(39%) during that same period of time. Amazingly, of the Bobcats 9 field goals, 8 came directly at the basket. Just one shot made from outside the restricted area. They couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, and they somehow managed to overcome an 8 point deficit and then also stave off Dallas in overtime.
Now, that statement probably deserves a qualification. Yes, the Bobcats are not what you would call "great", and no, they didn't shoot the ball from the outside very well at all in this game, but they also deserve a lot of credit, because they played very hard and competed. They earned the win, and they should be proud of it, style points be damned. In particular, Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist looked like the kind of exciting young talents that should finally inject some life into what has been a horrendously run franchise. Honestly, good for them.
That being said, this is a team Dallas should have beaten. Not because of their respective histories, which are next to irrelevant given all the new faces on both sides, and not because this is the same opponent Dallas thrashed last week, but because any team expecting(hoping?) to make the playoffs and with a roster capable of doing so shouldn't give up leads in the last five minutes of a game, and they certainly shouldn't do it the way Dallas just did.
Here are the possessions for Dallas in the final 3 minutes of regulation:
2:53 left in 4th- O.J Mayo catches a pass from Darren Collison, holds the ball for a few seconds, then takes a contested three pointer, which he airballs. Troy Murphy catches the ball directly under the basket, but instead of going back up with it tries to kick it out, and Kemba Walker intercepts.
2:12 left in 4th-Vince Carter gets mismatch with Kemba Walker, and Walker commits a bad foul to put Vince Carter on the line(the Bobcats were GIVING Dallas points!)
1:38 left in 4th-Vince gets the ball, dribbles behind a Kaman screen, and after his defender incorrectly goes under the screen, Carter makes the three.
1:13 left in 4th-After nearly forcing a 24 second violation, Vince Carter gets the rebound, and for some reason tries an outlet pass to Collison, who is not the deepest man on the court, and Kemba Walker tips the pass back to Charlotte.
0:54 left in 4th-Dallas forces another miss, and though you'd think after the error not half a minute earlier, Dallas would realize the situation and try to milk the clock, instead Carter gets the ball to Collison who tries to outrace a pair of Bobcats on an ill-conceived 1-on-2 fast break that ends predictably in a terrible layup attempt.
0:27 left in 4th-Ramon Sessions makes the classic mistake of trying to pass to Brendan Haywood, who fumbles the ball to O.J Mayo, who is fouled and makes a pair of free throws to stretch the lead to 4(in other words, more of Charlotte desperately trying to give Dallas the win).
0:0 left in 4th-Carter misses a difficult fadeaway at the buzzer.
So, let's see...poor awareness of gameclock management? Two possessions ruined by ill-advised fast break attempts. Check. Settling for long jumpers? Of the Mavs final 6 field goal attempts, 4 were threes and another was a long 2. Check. Most of final shots going to a player who isn't your best offensive weapon? Vince Carter entered the game as the fourth leading scorer, behind Mayo, Kaman, and Collison(also being a distant, distant fourth in shooting percentage), and although all three of those guys were on the floor late in the game, Vince Carter took 4 of the final 6 shots. Check.
Some or all of these things need to change, and are, by my view, certainly correctable.
Of course, what I'm not able to go back and chart because of record box failure, but what is equally perplexing, is just how bad Mayo was in O.T. It seemed again, kind of like against the Knicks, that when the team gets down, he goes into some kind of trance where he forgets what a quality shot is or how to get one. The relatively low total of 12 shots and 6 makes might make it seem he played an efficient if reserved offensive game, but in crunch time if anything he was forcing the issue, with several awful long contested jumpers.
Given his reputation as a good "closer" type, and the fact that he was among league leaders in 4th quarter points last year, I thought this would be an area of strength for him; that he'd be able to replicate the Jason Terry irrational confidence type performances late in games. That he has not been able to present himself as such might explain Vince Carter hoisting all those shots at the end of regulation, but if this team is going to win, even with Dirk Nowitzki back, O.J Mayo is going to play well and execute quality possessions late in games.