Where to begin with this one? Let's start with the obligatory stuff. With a 113-96 loss to the Nets on Wednesday night, the Mavericks are now 32-36 and 3.5 games behind the Lakers for the No. 8 seed. If we're all going to pretend that Dallas is still in the playoff race, let's note that you pretty much have to protect home-court to jump teams in the standings at this time of year. I've been to a lot of NBA games, but I can't remember an arena emptying out as fast as the AAC did tonight.
Here's the funny thing about Deron Williams and the Mavs: he really does look like a guy worth $100 million when he's playing against Mike James and Darren Collison. Once Williams saw a few jumpers go down in the second half, you could see his confidence growing as he realized they had absolutely no chance of stopping him. Whether it was James, Collison or Mayo, none could prevent him from going wherever he wanted on the court and raising up for a clean look at the basket. This is where you miss Dahntay Jones. With Marion out, Dallas doesn't have anyone else who can play perimeter defense on the roster.
Realistically, you can't expect those guys to be able to defend Deron Williams, but it's not too much to ask that an NBA PG making an NBA salary can initiate a set correctly! Check out this video from Michael Dugat of Collison trying to give Dirk the ball at the top of the key at the end of the third quarter. This is basic stuff. Chris Wright, the D-League PG on a 10-day contract, ran the Princeton offense for four seasons at Georgetown. Maybe he can throw an entry pass? The good news is that Mike James managed to get off 14 FGA's in his time on the floor.
Dirk Nowitzki had 16 points on 8-10 shooting and looked pretty dialed in all night. I wonder if this is how Cardinals fans feel watching Larry Fitzgerald play. Without repeating myself too much, I must point out that the Mavs lack of basic competence at the PG position makes it very frustrating to watch them play basketball.
The other Net who must really enjoy playing the Mavericks is Brook Lopez, who put up a very respectable 38/11 stat-line tonight, including a vicious dunk over Elton Brand on an offensive rebound in the fourth quarter. Brooklyn has one of the biggest and most skilled front-lines in the NBA with Lopez and Andray "Dre Day" Blatche. Dallas has been getting by with a 6'9 34-year old and a 6'10 210 stringbean who can't rebound at the 5 position. It came back to bite them on Wednesday. Lopez and Blatche had 52 points! If Chris Kaman was capable of playing defense, this would have been a good game to have him on your roster.
I think Blatche turned the momentum of the game in the second quarter when he started abusing the Mavs "big men" on the block. Dallas had been exploiting Reggie Evans inability to score in the first half, but they had absolutely no answer for the Blatche/Lopez combo upfront. I don't care how many rebounds Evans gets, you can't start him and expect to win a playoff series; it's just too easy to game-plan against him. If I were the Nets, I'd go Twin Towers with Blatche-Lopez a lot more often. Dre Day has turned himself into a pretty solid basketball player now that he's left Washington. Without looking, guess his PER. It's eyebrow raising, to say the least.
While you're poking around the Nets B-R page, go check out Gerald Wallace's stats this year. That should cheer you up. Say what you will about Donnie and Cuban, but I don't they would trade Damian Lillard for Wallace. The only thing funnier than that decision was the Nets saying they would have drafted Tyler Zeller if they had kept the pick. Over Andre Drummond! I don't want to over-react to one game, but Wallace looked done out there. He's 30, has played in the NBA since he was 19 and depends mostly on his athleticism to impact the game ... and they'll be paying him $10 million a season until 2016!
Since I've just started rambling about the Nets roster and using exclamation points in order to avoid talking about the Mavs, this is probably a good time to wrap up this recap. Dallas plays Boston on Friday, but we're probably better off watching March Madness so we can see the players Dallas won't draft in order to save cap space for Dwight Howard. This is what I meant about laughing now, because honestly, how can you even go to him this summer with a straight face and tell him to leave the Lakers to come here.