After the game, the players said what you'd expect -- "We still wanted to win it for the fans", and there was a fantastic crowd at the AAC -- but they also threw out another reason for the gutsy play and refusal to surrender. This, they said, was what this team could have been.
On offense, the Mavericks offense spread the wealth and had three players with 20 points or more. The defense was a little bit more spotty, but a bend don't break philosophy plus 20 ill-advised shot attempts from Corey Brewer (he hit six for 18 points) was enough to squeak out a win.
This is what the Mavericks could have been, with a healthy Dirk all season. With Vince and Mayo manning the wings, this team showed moments where they clicked into place during the final stretch but obviously fell short of the playoff goal -- stymied by the hole they had dug themselves by poor play early in the season.
There's no sense crying over spilt milk. Dirk was hesitant with the knee and the Mavericks didn't cash in the opportunities they had to recover in the playoff race. But in reality, despite a playoff absence for the first time in 12 years, they are probably better than last year's rendition.
The game never really swung big either direction -- there were seven lead changes and 12 ties, and though the Nuggets were able to roll out a 11 point lead briefly in the 3rd, the Mavericks answered right back.
OJAM hit a three-pointer tied at 96 with 35 seconds left, and Andre Miller was fouled and could only convert a single free throw on the other side. The Mavericks should have coasted to the finish, expect that Mayo, grabbing the ball off the inbounds, pushed into traffic and was stripped. Miller picked up the ball and found Brewer wide open for the tying lay-up.
Damnit, O.J. He had been riding a strong game to that point, but once again came up with the boneheaded turnover. Demonstrating both sides of his game again, he actually got all the way to the rim in the few seconds left in regulation, but missed, and the game went into overtime...In which OJ scored the Mavs' first 5 points. Lot going on, there.
After Iggy sunk a long jumper to make it a one point game with 2:18 left, Carter hit a long two followed by some Mike James mess we don't need to go into, Faried made a layup with 29 seconds left to cut it to 1, but DC sunk two free throws and that's all she wrote.
And the Mavs are once again one game down from .500 with a game against the Hornets on Sunday.