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Going to the Game: Reflections

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Last night's game was covered by a whole Mavs Moneyball squadron. I attended my second ever game as press, T-Cat, the only one of us with an annual press pas, was actually both conceived AND born in the AAC and Lisa made it up for her second or third game in Dallas. We had fun! For a while.

The attitude of the Dallas Sports complex currently, is poisonous. In a vacuum, one could look at, say, the Cowboys, and say here was a team that had no business being 8-8, no offensive line, a trail of injured players out the emergency room door, no running game, and at the end, no WRs. They have some intriguing young pieces, DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Anthony Spencer is 28, as is Miles Austin. You could be hopeful.

No one is, of course. That's what happens when disappointment goes terminal. For the Cowboys, it's the fact that the same faces have been there long enough and seem not to be getting it done in the same way. For the Rangers, it's being so close to the mountaintop, being a player for all the major free agents, and whiffing, while letting some of their own cornerstones walk away.

For the Mavericks it's having been there, once, scaled it. Then deliberately, very deliberately, let it all walk away.

In a vacuum, I don't think anyone has a problem with saying that OJ Mayo is a talented young piece who's facing new challenges that, if he overcomes them, he could turn out to be an excellent player.

I don't think anyone would say that Darren Collison, who turned in another quietly good night at 5-7, who is averaging 16-5, and 1.9 TOs, since going scoreless in 10 minutes against Memphis, isn't doing exactly what Carlisle is asking him to do, finally, and seeing results.

And I don't think anyone can look at the way the team is playing with Dirk, who was very good and predictably ran out of gas, and suggest the Mavs would be close to here if he had been playing the whole season.

So there would be a lot to hope for. But Mavericks fans do not live in the valley of hope. They live in a constant present. Robbed of their chance to compete, Mavs fans were then robbed of their chance to imagine what "next year" will look like, as the front office remains steadfastly determined to keep overturning it until...something happens.

So this loss wasn't really about the loss, though it was an important loss. It was a game they should have won, against a talented but not overly good opponent and it will be followed by tough games at Utah and Staples (Clippers). They play Sacramento, but then they play Memphis. If you figure they're a .500 team, and they beat only the teams they should beat, they'll end the month of January maybe 6-6, which would be a nice change, of course, but you're still 8 below and it's February.

And rather than talking about whether we have some pieces to build on this year, rather than being content, even intrigued by the idea of Mayo, Dirk and Collison as the core of something, with some exciting FA in the wings (and yes, that's basically monetarily possible) Mavs fans are now conditioned to see this as another failed team, thus another team destined nearly entirely for the scrap heap.

Mavs fans now want a, oh I don't know, 9th pick in a weak draft than anybody they have now. And you can't blame them.

New Years Resolution, if you can do it. Get yourself some amnesia. Forget the record. Forget the championship and forget the future. Just try to see whether this team can turn into something before the end of the season. This one was 80% of a great game by the Mavericks. If you can, forget, and get into that.

Otherwise, nothing good, sportswise, is going to happen to you for a while.

Game observations:

-You know what's shocking? The Mavs are doing what Rick is asking them to do now. Did you know that? 9 TOs last night, pretty close in the rebounding battle. 13 TOs against the Heat, won the rebounding battle. 10 TOs against the Wizards, close in the rebounding battle. 11 TOs against the Spurs, won the rebounding battle.

But they keep losing. Does that make sense? Well, they've shot like particularly loosely trained Sea World dolphins, so, yeah. It's a shame, though.

-On the same note, did you see Roddy B last night? Completely under control. 3-5, no three-point attempts. 4 assists, 2 rebounds, no turnovers. Time and again he drove into the lane , drew the defense, and threw a perfect outlet pass to a three-point shooter. He's doing exactly what Rick wants him to do. As Collison, as noted before. It is working. Weird, right?

-In the post game, Dirk came out, the first question started "It's still early in the season, but," which Dirk cut off with a harsh "is it?" I'm sure he knows the playoff odds as well as anybody. He also confessed to not being there, physically, to play 30 and make plays down the stretch. For his mental health, and ours, we hope it comes soon.

--Every time I look at Vince Carter's box score and see something good (6-11 last night, 3-5), I'm shocked. The guy competes hard on defense, and on the boards, he's a real gamer, and he takes shots so bad he should be electrically shocked when he lines ‘em up. Still, the Mavs absolutely need him right now. Keep on chuckin', VC

-Leaving the locker room, I saw OJ Mayo passing. As he went by, he patted me on the shoulder, I saw a lot of sadness in his eyes. Call me crazy, but I feel bad for Mayo. He was proving everybody wrong, and now his shot is abandoning him and he's gotta re-find his way in the offense. My question or you is this: If he turns it around, will it make you happy? Will you figure, then, his price-tag is too much to pay? I hope all of us can find something to enjoy, otherwise what's the point, you know?

-Mark Cuban is going to get finnneeeddddd

-The Mavs have lost OT games to the best (Miami, OKC) and the worst (Bobcats, Hornets). They are equal opportunity. Good at competing, not great at winning. 0-6 in OT this season, 4-2 and they'd be 17-19. You know?