The Dallas Mavericks lost to the New Orleans Hornets---the New Orleans Hornets? Really?—97-92. They played the delightful level of Mavs ball we’ve all come to expect during this four game losing streak, showing a complete inability to rebound (50-34), to shut down the opposing center in any way (Kaman staked the Hornets to a 19-10 lead by hitting his first six shots), fell behind by 11 points with less than 6 left in the fourth, made a furious comeback, but (still) couldn’t find a team terrible enough to throw away EVERY opportunity to win the game.
Don’t feel bad if you don’t feel like reading this recap. I wish I hadn’t watched this, or the last four games, myself.
The good news—and I mean the only good news—is that both Roddy Beaubois and Dom Jones had good games. Dom played only 17 minutes, and only scored 5, but both his shots were tough shots, he grabbed 5 rebounds, dished 3 assists, got 1 steal, 1 block and only one turnover. Roddy, who started, was especially good in the second half, shot 11-17, 2-4 from three, and had a season high 26 points.
The question of WHY the Mavs are struggling is an obvious one. There was never any reason the interior defense (against centers at any rate) was going to be any good if they let Tyson Chandler go, and there was never any reason that they would be able to get any rebounds without him. It isn’t, and they haven’t.
This remains a championship team with a lot of pride and a lot of talent, and if that talent hadn’t completely gone missing the last four games (Jason Terry’s 1-9 was a delicious counterpart to Dirk’s 7-19, to Shawn Marion’s own delicious 11 points), the Mavs would have four wins instead of four losses.
But does that matter? It’d be nice to have wins against the likes of New Jersey and New Orleans, and they all count, but ekeing out wins against those guys is only marginally better news than losing.
It’s obvious Dirk, despite two threes that were both gorgeous and potentially game-changing if the Mavs hadn’t decided, as usual, to spot a much less talented team a 10+ lead in the 4th. It’s obvious Terry is just terrible right now. It’s obvious the Mavs not only miss but in many ways rely on the contributions of Delonte West and Lamar Odom, minimal as that might seem. The usual talent is so out of sorts that the Mavs closed the game with a roster of Dirk, Kidd, Roddy, Carter and Wright, before letting Jet in to give him an opportunity to miss the last shot if he wanted (Carter took those honors).
So, while none of these losses mean the team is in some absolute sense bad--they've still almost won all of these despite some truly terrible play--None of that means anything because we don’t know what will get fixed. All we know is that the Mavs have now squandered a lot of the easy part of this brutal stretch and now have the honor and pleasure of playing Utah tomorrow, Oklahoma City Monday and the Knicks on Tuesday.
If they want to avoid a 7 game losing streak, and presumably falling out of the Western playoff picture, they’re going to have to find a way to get a tough win.