Dallas struggled in the second half, and missed Tyson Chandler terribly, en route to a 104-94 loss to the Brooklyn Nets. The Mavs came out with one of the most ridiculous starting lineups this season, due to Tyson being out of the lineup, with Rondo, Barea, Ellis, Jefferson and Dirk making up the first five Mavs out on the court.
Despite maintaining a lead for the majority of the first half, Dallas just couldn't pull away. After the Mavs worked their way to a 39-31 lead with 7:11 left in the second quarter the Nets called a timeout, and promptly went on a 7-0 run to keep things close. One of the keys to Dallas keeping any lead at all was their bench, which totaled 22 points, nine rebounds, five assists, and five steals in the first half. Amar'e Stoudemire led all Mavericks with nine points, and Dallas took a 51-47 lead into the half.
That lead would disappear quickly though, as Brooklyn would open the third quarter on a 10-2 run, led by Deron Williams. Deron Williams really got going, scoring 12 points in the quarter, and when it was all said and done Brooklyn had outscored Dallas 35 to 21 and had an 82-72 lead going into the 4th quarter.
The fourth quarter saw things level out a bit, but unfortunately that meant Dallas never could regain the lead. A Dirk three pointer with 9:30 left cut the deficit to six, but a subsequent 9-3 run from Brooklyn put the Nets back up by 12. Dallas would cut the deficit to single digits a few more times, but would only get within seven points of the Nets.
Monta Ellis and Rajon Rondo both struggled for Dallas on the night, combining to go just 8-for-25. Both missed layups late in the fourth quarter, and Monta sailed a pass out of bounds that would have set up Dirk on the low post with a chance to cut the deficit to five with 1:35 left. That would be the last chance Dallas had at a comeback.
It's curious that Ellis and Rondo were even in the game, seeing how well Harris and Aminu had been playing. The two bench players combined to have 26 points (on 9-of-11 shooting), 5 steals, 5 rebounds (all Aminu) and 5 assists (all Harris).
Dirk would finish with 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting, and one could argue that he should have seen the ball more down the stretch.
In the end, Dallas drops to 39-22 on the season, and heads into a brutal March that could very well see Dallas fall in the standings. It all starts with a Monday night matchup against New Orleans against a Pelicans squad that has won four straight and is sitting a half game out of eighth in the West.