Jose Calderon left the game with an ankle injury in the 3rd quarter, and although the x-rays turned out to be negative, it seemed like the rest of the team left with him.
Atlanta pummeled the Mavericks in the fourth quarter, outscoring them 24-12 to win on a 20-foot jumper by Al Horford with four seconds remaining. After holding a lead as large as 17 for virtually the entire game, the high-powered offense abandoned Dallas when it was most needed.
Pick and choose whichever stat suits your fancy: it was a season-low with 87 points this season and the only time Dallas has scored in the 80's this year. It was also a season-low 37% from the field, and (by my unofficial research) the only time they've shot less than 40% in a game. Monta Ellis missed his final five shots and Dirk, his final three.
"We just pissed this one away. We just gave it away. That's all," said DeJuan Blair, who was certainly one of the few Mavericks mostly exempt from the criticism after posting a season-high 18 rebounds.
Before his injury (which we aren't quite sure when it happened), Calderon started the game on fire, hitting four straight threes and leading a Mavericks offense that had 53 points at halftime.
The third quarter was slightly less lackluster, but up until the closing minutes, did a good job maintaining the double digit lead that had been held all game.
It all fell to shambles after Calderon left. The Mavericks better hope he is okay, because although Shane Larkin and Gal Mekel have been solid in stretches, the duo was absolutely miserable at initiating any sort of reasonable offense. Dallas committed five turnovers in the final 3:39 of the third quarter, foreshadowing what was to come.
In the fourth, Monta regressed into Montaball, jacking up horrible jumpers that never had a prayer of going in, and Vince Carter's offense was no better. It was an all-around disaster, to the point that the 12 points the team did score was almost a shock.
Some bullet reactions:
- The game was lost FAR before the final play -- but it's so frustrating to see that final shot go to Vince Carter, who's taken far too many "crunch-time" shots for Dallas and has very little to show for it. The decision is especially puzzling when you consider that Wayne Ellington was wide open above the arc. As Norsktroll posted in the comments below, here's a screengrab:
Alright, we've got to talk Vince now. I was such a huge fan last year, constantly praising his consistency and underrated playmaking night in and night out. But good God, he's been the worst Maverick so far this season and it's not even close. There's more of those bad Vince shots than usual, and even the good looks (open threes, mostly) aren't going down. He looks even slower than last year. For someone considered part of the "big 3" by Carlisle, he's quickly earned his way out of it.
But until the return of Wright and Harris, I don't think the Mavericks really have a choice. This is a Monta/Dirk-led offense and without Vince producing like he did last year, Dallas is missing a playmaker that can be plugged into any lineup off the bench. The team wants to maximize the minutes Ellis and Nowitzki play together, but you can't do that if there's no one to help carry the offense through a few stretches without either of them on the court. I don't think there's a change in sight, either. Carlisle just doesn't have many options to work with until this team is fully healthy.
With that said, there's no reason Ellington shouldn't be getting some of the minutes Carter has been receiving. He's a shooting threat and he plays good defense. The Mavericks could use a little of both of those.
Did anyone call Shawn Marion taking eight three-point attempts in a single game this season? Man. I talked about his reemergence as a shooter and even I didn't expect this. He hit three of them, which is a solid clip, so it's hard to complain. But still, his above the break attempts need to be limited.
That was the worst loss of the year and all of a sudden, the Mavericks have dropped three of the last four. And with the tail end of a back-to-back tomorrow against Minnesota tomorrow and the possibility of no Jose Calderon once again, we may be looking pretty miserable headed into Tuesday's game against Charlotte. Funny how quickly these things can swing.