One of the things we forget most often, as fans, is that no team can do everything. The Mavs are betting that their scoring can outpace their poor rebounding and defense, and hopefully, a lot of nights they'll be right. It doesn't make it fun to watch the Love-Pekovic duos of the league, or the Howard-Asiks or the Gasol-Randolphs or whoever, make their living on the offensive glass, but it is on some level a choice. The Mavs couldn't have everything, so they decided to have some things.
Some nights it'll be awesome and some nights exhilarating. The Mavs have probably accurately shown where they fall in the constellation of the Western Conference already this season. Not as good as the Thunder or Rockets, better than the Hawks (not West, I know), and Lakers, somewhere among the Wolves and Grizzlies. It's a fool's errand to try to make of one game what they spend 4-7 games figuring out in April, but...that's pretty likely.
Also, though it's really, really hard to believe, the Mavs were outrebounded by just 4, and out o-boarded by just 2, but both of those are probably the result of DeJuan Blair grabbing his own miss like 12 times at one point in the 2nd.
Tonight, alas, was Dark Side of the Monta. It wasn't that he missed a lot of shots, which happens. It was how he played. While the Wolves were calmly hitting jumpshots to extend their small, late-game lead, Monta had two out-of-control drives and two PUJIT threes. Dirk didn't get enough shots and the offense did not go through him enough.
Still, the Mavs didn't really lose because of any of those things, but because Minnesota's Kevins were out of their minds. Their 12-21 (Love) and 10-19 (Martin) doesn't tell the whole story, and they hit some absurd shots. It was a three point game when Kevin Love made a turn-around three-pointer with 2:12 left, then another long two, then a Kevin Martin long-two and it wasn't a three point game anymore. The Mavs have chosen to press the offensive pedal to 80 mph. Tonight, the Wolves hit 85.
So here we are. Calderon was brilliant shooting the ball (7-11, 6-8 from three) and hit a more Caldy-like 7 assists to 1 turnover, but the Mavs didn't give him much to work with in terms of running an offense. Monta was out of control. Guys kept passing to Dalembert who kept screaming I DON'T HAVE ANY HANDS WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME, and Dirk was tentative, again, and somewhat ineffective, again. He was 1-4 from three, but two of those were 40 foot buzzer shots which is all you need to know about all that.
The silver lining for me was the continued strong play of Jae Crowder. I don't really believe he's suddenly found a three-point stroke and tonight's 0-2 didn't help. But he does look like he's finally learned how to play basketball, and was consistently in the right place for some strong defensive and offensive plays. He was the team's leader in +/- tonight, at +12. And, too, with all that, if Vince Carter plays* maybe the Mavs pull this one out.
Anyhow. More than anything else, the Mavericks have some lineup tampering to do. None of the starters did better than -12 (Marion), while none of the bench players did worse than +3 (Wayne Ellington). You'd like to see Calderon with some guys who aren't one on one guys and you'd like to see some times dedicated to working the ball through Dirk. Hopefully, we will.
(*editor's note: Carter was suspended one game for throwing an elbow in the Mavericks' last outing.)