I mean, did you think it was going to be easy? When has it ever been easy for the 2012-2013 Dallas Mavericks?
Whenever the Mavs were going to break this horrible stretch, it had to be in some sort of crazy/awful/dumb/awesome way. And that's what happened.
Dallas had to look lifeless for three and a half quarters.
O.J. Mayo had to have two points until the fourth quarter.
Dirk Nowitzki had to have an awful shooting night.
Mayo had to score almost all of his points attacking the rim in transition.
He also had to miss that free throw.
Isiah Thomas had to bank in that game-tying three-pointer.
Darren Collison had to make one of the dumbest turnovers of all time.
DeMarcus Cousins had to get ejected from the game on a flagrant two foul.
Let's just go into the bullets:
- The Mavericks were down 10 entering the fourth quarter and honestly, it was some awful basketball from Dallas. The Mavs were shooting under 40 percent, they were getting owned inside, they weren't catching up to the Kings in transition or the secondary break and they seemed extremely out of it. It was the second night of a back to back, but it was pretty inexcusable. Through three quarters, this game showcased everything that's wrong with this season's Mavs. It brutal.
- Then in the fourth quarter, it just clicked. After dawdling between a five and seven point deficit, the Mavericks stringed together some stops (somehow, with small-ball) and O.J. Mayo and Vince Carter just willed this thing back. Mayo scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, about four or five of his baskets coming in transition. The Mavericks didn't cock up their half-court offense in this one, because there wasn't a half-court offense. Dallas grabbed a rebound, took advantage of the Kings awful transition defense and just pushed it. Mayo was the main culprit, although every Mavs guard looked to make sure there wasn't going to be a chance to cough the ball up in a half court game. Dallas needs to do this more often, they have the athletes. There's no reason Collison and Mayo should be walking the ball up the court, with or without Dirk Nowitzki.
- Mayo was sensational. There wasn't a catastrophic turnover and he rarely settled for jumpers after halftime. Not all of Mayo's transition scores were easy run-outs, either: Mayo charged into 1 on 2 and 1 on 3 situations but sliced his way to the cup with great ease. Also, let's not forget that Sacramento could have had a 20-point lead in the third and fourth quarters if not for Mayo's ability to draw fouls and get to the line. 7 of 8 from the line, 24 points on 14 shots, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 turnover. Just phenomenal.
- Except that late free throw miss that allowed the Kings to tie the game at the end of regulation. There isn't a person I trust less at the free throw line in a close game then Mayo right now.
- Question his shot selection but never question his effort. Vince Carter can drive the fanbase insane sometimes, but tonight, the shot-chucking Vince was replaced with the rim-attacking Vince. Along with Mayo, Carter helped force the Kings into the penalty in both the third and fourth quarters, which really saved the Mavs offense. Carter went 13 of 16 from the free throw line. Let me repeat. HE WENT 13 OF 16 FROM THE FREE THROW LINE.
- Welcome back, Shawn Marion's offense. Marion went 7 of 12 and scored 19 points. He really helped stabilize things when the Mavericks seemed to be veering off road. His offense allowed the Mavericks small-ball lineup to not be the worst thing ever.
- Marion deserves a medal for trying to body up DeMarcus Cousins on the low block during the fourth quarter and overtime period. It wasn't always a success, but you can't fault Marion's effort. Kudos to the Dallas help D, which collapsed on Cousins and forced a few turnovers.
- Elton Brand scored 4 points, grabbed 4 rebounds and blocked 4 shots in 15 minutes. Weird. Not going to complain about his playing time (again) because, honestly, the Mavericks needed something to spark them and Carlisle decided to go with Bernard James, who wasn't the worst.
- This game is going to spur a bunch of "SEE, THE MAVS NEED MIKE JAMES' VETERAN-NESS." When really, James wasn't anything special. The Mavericks offense thrived in the fourth quarter not because of James' steady hand in the half court, but because the Mavericks simply ran the Kings off the court. James looked to be in decent enough shape, but there's no way you can tell me him playing led the Mavs to a win, except...
- ...That Darren Collison turnover in the fourth quarter was the worst thing I've ever seen. I felt like someone pooped in my soul after I watched that.
- I really liked Collison's game tonight (soul-pooping turnovers notwithstanding), but I feel like he's done, for the most part. Sure, he's going to start. But his confidence has to be shattered now. That's what that turnover said to me. It said, "I've been benched by two 37-year-old point guards who were signed off the street, even though I'm playing my best ball of the season in the last two weeks."
- Also, that final possession in regulation? Why, oh why, were the Mavericks HELPING on Cousins as he drove into the lane with the Mavs up three? Just let Cousins go to the rim and lay in two points then make your free throws. That was maddening. Chalk another ulcer up to the 2012-2013 Mavericks.
- I wasn't the biggest fan of the Chris Kaman signing (I preferred Brand before I realized the Mavericks were going to get both) but I didn't think he'd be as horrendous as he's been, especially lately. Kaman was once the only positive about the Mavs, giving them solid two-way play. But tonight might have been the nail in the coffin. Kaman got abused badly by Cousins in the first quarter, launched bricks from the perimeter on offense and just looked rather meager in general. Kaman started on the bench at the beginning of the second half, checked in for two minutes in the third, then went to the bench and never appeared again. I wouldn't be surprised if Brand is the starter and Kaman is reduced to some limited second-string burn in about a week or so, if not sooner. Much like Collison, Carlisle has almost all trust.
- Dirk's shot has been off, to say the least the last two games. It doesn't seem to be for a lack of trying -- Dirk took plenty of opportunities to get shots up throughout the game. It says a lot that he played a season-high in minutes on a back to back, so his conditioning should be better. Hopefully the jumper will come around as well. To his credit, Dirk rebounded well and played, I think, his best help defense so far this season.