Nothing signifies the new era of Mavs basketball more so than how much first quarters matter. For years, you could set your watch to it-whatever happened in the first two or three quarters, it'd be close in the end. In 2010-2011, the year they won the championship, if you discount the games Dirk was out for injury, the Mavs lost exactly two games by double-digits-an 11-point loss to Denver in the 5th game of the season, and a 28-pointer to LA in the 8th to last game of the season.
These days, if the Mavs go down by 10 points in the first, they have a pretty good chance of losing by ten points. Tonight, they should have, and would have, if there hadn't been a weird 5 point sequence with 4 seconds left.
The good news is, the Mavs have only lost to the Spurs and Thunder since January 10th, and there's no real shame in that. The bad news is, those are exactly the teams the Mavs will play should they succeed in making the playoffs-and it will be hard to take even that prospect seriously until the Mavs beat a couple of good teams. I don't think they can't, or won't, they just haven't much.
Today was a decent game for Dirk, who cooled down in the second half, and that's good news. Chris Kaman found himself at the far end of the bench, which was surprising only because no one else was playing defense either. So did Shawn Marion, who was 1-5 and finished the night -28.
On the other side of the coin, Roddy Beaubois had a great night, 6-8, 5 free throws, whatever, but also threw the ball away pretty hard and often. I almost spit out a drink I wasn't drinking when, the Mavericks having narrowed a huge deficit to 13 with 6:31 to go, Roddy threw it to Mike James for the worst-looking jumper in history, followed by Roddy throwing the ball directly to the Spurs on the next trip down.
A special note here, for Jae Crowder, who was horrible. Or, should I say, he LOOKED horrible, going 1-6, taking some horrible momentum killing shots, sending people to the free throw line without fouling hard enough for them to miss the shot, failing to box out---but he ended up +28 in 26 minutes? I know +/- is a worthless stat, but that seems mathematically impossible.
And finally, this game was not without its Bennett Salvatore (the ref) comedy. At one point, Jae Crowder went to the line, made a free throw, then apparently the refs decided Bernard James had been fouled, so he stepped in and took two free throws.
Later in the game, the refs called an offensive interference on Vince Carter, then a tech on Carlisle for arguing, then rescinded the offensive interference but KEPT the tech, so a 12-point Spurs lead with 4 minutes left turned into a 10-point lead, turned into a 13-point lead, turned into an 11-point lead. Good times.
The game wasn't really ever as close as it looks like from the final score. That was courtesy of Aron Baynes, in his first NBA minutes. After Jae Crowder hit his first shot of the game, dragging the Spurs lead down to 6, Baynes threw It in to Darren Collison, making it a 4-point game. But there were two seconds left, so the Spurs won anyway.
The only really interesting part of this game was that Carlisle finally played with his lineups. Sarge got 10 minutes, Kaman only 12. Shawn Marion played 20, Roddy 16. We'll see where all that goes.