Dallas fell to Brooklyn Friday night, 106-107, as they were unable to cap a furious final minute rally after struggling to find any consistency the entire basketball game. Nets bench player Mirza Teletovic scored a career high 34 points on the Mavericks, including an insane 7-for-11 from beyond the three point line. Monta Ellis was the statistical leader for Dallas with 16 points, 7 assists, and 7 rebounds.
The Mavericks looked like crap from the opening tip. Mostly, it appeared to be an issue of tired legs but with Brooklyn appearing just as terrible the game seemed to favor the Mavericks. Though each team had combined for a total of 12 points by the six minute mark of the first quarter (shooting a woeful 5-for-25 combined), things picked up as the quarter wound down. For Dallas, the insertion of Vince Carter off the bench seemed to bring Dallas to life a bit. Devin Harris also looked happy to play basketball. By the end of the first, the Mavs led 21-18.
The second quarter was all about Mirza Teletovic. He scored a ridiculous 24 points in the period, including a perfect 6-for-6 from behind the arc. Rick Carlisle burned time out after time out hoping to get his team to, you know, defend someone. I can't say I really understand why he'd think that considering he opted to have Dallas go with a match up zone with undersized and slow defenders. Teletovic was open because Dallas has the recognition of an 80 year old man driving on the highway. And yet, the Mavericks hung around. Despite giving up 39 points in the quarter, Dallas trailed 46-57 heading into the half.
The third period felt like an extended tease, with the Mavericks inching closer, then the Nets inching away (usually with the help of a no-call or a favorable call for Brooklyn). Samuel Dalembert continued to be really crappy at basketball, committing two offensive fouls on back to back possessions with moving screens. Some of that might have been Monta's fault, but Dalembert has to know better. He committed three offensive fouls on the evening. Dallas actually managed to cut the lead down to four before the Nets got some help from the zebras to push their lead to 78-70 as the quarter ended.
The fourth quarter was actually exciting, compared to the rest of this tire fire of a game. Devin Harris started off on a mission getting to the line for four free throws and nailing a three. He also got Jose Calderon the ball in the corner for a three, yet the Nets managed to answer time and again. Some strange off-ball calls awarded Brooklyn with a few extra points, including a free throw for a rebounding player after a made three. Dirk Nowitzki picked up a technical foul arguing with the refs after he committed a foul arguing (correctly) that he wasn't getting respect on the other end as he had body contact on a made lay in. Brandan Wright didn't get a free throw after clear contact on the arm later in the period.
Dallas managed to hang around, whittling an 11 point lead with 4:18 remaining down to 3 points with 10 seconds on the clock. This was accomplished mainly through free throws from Dirk, as the Nets entered the bonus fairly early in the quarter. Monta Ellis also scored a number of tough buckets late. Missed free throws in the period from Monta, Jae Crowder, and Carter would haunt Dallas though. Paul Pierce missed two of his four late game free throws, giving Dallas a chance. With a 103-105 deficit, five seconds remaining and Dirk on the line for his second free throw (Nets opted to NOT give Dallas a chance to shoot a three to tie the game), Carlisle opted to have Dirk miss on purpose. The Mavericks nearly corralled the rebound for another shot attempt but Andrei Kirilenko grabbed the rebound and gave the Nets a four point lead. Monta Ellis drilled a long three as time expired to give the Nets a 107-106 victory.
-I wanted to rant about this game, but I just don't have the energy. But know this: I fully believe that these losses are terrible and are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of problems for Dallas. This road trip was three relatively easy teams compared to what's coming in early March and late April. A win that looked terrible and two bad losses is not a good look. Every one of these losses is going to haunt Dallas because they need the padding in the West. Despite having a nice lead on the 8th place team, games like this scare the crap out of me. I still think they can make the playoffs and I feel a hell of a lot better about this team than I did last year's mess of a squad. But the time for boundless optimism is over. The Mavericks are an exceptionally gimmicky team and Rick Carlisle can only put up smoke and mirrors for so long.
-Ellis looks haggard. I hope the minutes for Devin Harris increase soon.