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Mavericks lose 91-88 to Cleveland Cavaliers, in stunning display of mediocrity

Kyrie Irving, last year's #1 pick, showed some serious moves out there today and finished with 20. Anderson Varejao grabbed 17 rebounds, scored 17 points on 8-13 shooting, had 7 O-boards and was everywhere. If you're wondering why I'm talking about the other team (outside of Dirk, who not only scored 24 on 9/15 shooting, 2-2 from three, but looked very active in fighting for his shot), you didn't watch the game.

There is a certain numbing regularity to Mavericks games these days. A first half where the Mavs make shots, look bad, make stupid turnovers, give up too many o-boards, steal their dad's thunderbird without asking, and let the other team hang around despite desperately bad shooting. A third quarter where the Mavs can't make a shot and the other team can, resulting in a reasonably sized deficit no matter how bad the opponent is.

This spills into the fourth. The Mavs grittliy keep it close, with that champion grit, something they never should have had to do. They don’t keep it close enough. Not enough grit, probably.

Sometimes, you could think the Mavs are just getting unlucky. Fouls seem to go against them at the wrong time, balls rattle out that rattle in for the other guys, tipped passes never end up in their hands. Lamar Odom tries a full-court pass while lying on his back at a crucial moment, rather than handing it to any of the two Mavericks lying next to him. Dirk gets mugged at the rim, forced out of bounds, and called for a travel.

Then it happens nearly every game and you realize that old teams may be good at many things, but not falling on the ground for the ball, and if Delonte West, Lamar Odom and Vince Carter were consistent high-volume contributors, and not very competent role players with some mental issues they would not have played for 13 teams between them.

Other things happened.

Roddy regressed, hard. Ian didn't play. Marion was 1-5 for 4. Carlisle went with Brandan Wright down the stretch for unclear reasons, though he did put in 11. Lamar and Vince combined for 11. Ryan Hollins showed he can't do something as simple as get a rebound without the matter resulting in a high speed police chase.

They now get a good three days to sit on there dumb losses. They will then get the opportunity to play, not the Pacers and the Cavs, but such as the Nuggets, Wolves again, Blazers, Clippers, Nuggets again, 76ers, Knicks, Celtics, Lakers in what is certainly the toughest stretch of the season.

And one more thing: If the Mavs don’t get the ball to Dirk more often, I will burn the city to the ground. If the Mavs don’t get the ball to Dirk more often, I will burn the city to the ground. If the Mavs don’t get the ball to Dirk more often, I will burn the city to the ground.

Bullets and such:

Forget this game. I hated and hated talking about it. Additionally, as much as I love NBA League Pass, I was once again sentenced to listening to the other team’s announcers who, as near as I could tell in this case, were whatever drunk Cleveland fans happened to be sleeping directly outside of the stadium before the game. Let’s talk about the Mavs in general:

The Mavs:

1) Need to find a way to get inside and, if nothing else, generate some free throw attempts. On the other hand going in and throwing it up wildly or throwing a stupid pass in mid-air to a player on the other team is not better. Remember how the Heat were dominating the Mavs until Jason Kidd said something like, if you're going to turn the ball over, throw it out of bounds? Old teams against young guys. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.

2) Need to find a better three-point defense. Every team has good three-point shooters. Kevin Love is especially good, Paul George is a young dude with a lot of talent and I don't know anything about Alonzo Gee's game just because he's not on ESPN's radar very often. But, I guarantee you that if left wide open half of any team in the NBA can hurt you from there. I don't know if you know this, but two threes is as good as three twos. This is not a good exchange rate. And no, the Cavs weren't great from three tonight, but not from lack of opportunity.

3) Need to run the playbook.

This last one is the most important. Delonte West and Roddy B are both decent distributors, in that they will often look to pass. But neither knows when to, exactly, or to who. That's what Jason Kidd is good at, but that doesn't mean his coming back is going to solve it. For starters, there is no telling that he will get to keep playing without more health problems. Presumably more importantly, he’s been just awful.

If the Mavericks don’t pass the ball to Dirk more often, I will burn the city to the ground.

(P.S. Dear FBI, I will not actually be burning any cities to the ground. My family and many friends live there, including my parent’s dog. Also, Mr. Gatti’s. everything is cool.).

Every team goes through rough patches, so this may not mean anything. It's disheartening the Mavs still haven't figured it out, and that the defense actually looks dreadful, for all that the Cavs barely broke 90. It's especially disheartening that Dirk, who moved past Elgin Baylor on the all-time scoring list tonight, had two brilliant games in a row that ended in Ls, when the Mavs managed to win most every game without him. Who can explain such things? They are for the wise.

Bottom line:

Dirk Nowitzki the last two games: 21-32 (66%), 3-6 from 3. Averaging 27 points. Turns out he’s not done, Chuck. We’re all as surprised as you. It seemed very plausible and likely that a guy would tear through the playoffs and then be terrible the next minute. That is how real life is.

Everyone else: 46/ 117 (39%)

(If the Mavs don’t, &c).