A game that made no sense to conclude a season that made even less. There's something fitting, even poetic about that.
The Mavericks lost 103-94 to the Rockets in Game 5. It was a series that had been lost from the moment Chandler Parsons' knee ended his year, yet still the Mavericks hung around. They played the Rockets even for three quarters in Game 2, came up just two points shy in Game 3, won big in the series' penultimate matchup before falling on Tuesday. They relied on Al-Farouq Aminu, J.J. Barea and Charlie Villanueva. They started Richard Jefferson and Raymond Felton. Nothing about it made sense, and yet here they were, down just a few points as the minutes wound down on the season.
It wasn't to be. The defining play came with about two minutes to play on a fast break after Barea somehow eeked out of rebound from a scrum. He found Monta, who found Dirk, who found Barea again. You knew the Mavs' future Hall of Famer wanted to make it a three-point game. He tried his best. He got the ball back but it wasn't there, as he stepped through and hurled an errant pass across the floor that James Harden intercepted and converted on the other end.
What a bizarre first half. The Mavericks shot 38 percent and hit just 1-13 behind the arc while the Rockets hit 54 percent from the field. How was it a 56-50 Houston lead at the halfway mark? With icy Dirk shooting (2-11), Dallas survived by forcing (or, perhaps, accepting) a bevy of turnovers from the Rocket big men and earned some quality bonding time with the free throw line.
But may I remind you, however narrow the odds were, that Houston was the West's two seed. They're talented. They have an all-world player and an established system that works so well for them. They ground back, slowly and surely extending that lead, then giving it back, then extended again. They had too much in the end. There's no shame in that.
There's a lot of feelings you'll probably feeling right now. I am too. Frustration, anger, indignation shouldn't be any of them. You can only love the way the Mavericks played, only love Dallas' constant drive to succeed at any cost, even if their methods are misguided at times.
But we'll worry about that in due time. Thank you for a hell of a season, you 2014-15 Mavericks. It was a lot of things, but never not worth watching.