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3 things we learned as the Mavs lose to the Knicks, 93-77

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The Dallas Mavericks fall to 2-7 on the season as they continue to fight through a tough November stretch.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The Mavs had four days off, but it wasn't enough, as they lost to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden Monday night, 93-77. Some takeaways from a rather lackluster loss:

Maybe Dallas needs Dirk after all

Despite the long layoff, Dallas was still shorthanded, missing star Dirk Nowitzki, as well as Deron Williams and Devin HarrisHarrison Barnes did his best to pick up the scoring slack, extending his streak of 20 point games to four, but it wasn't enough. Barnes had Dallas looking good early on, with 16 at the break, but like the team as a whole he struggled in the second half, with just 4 points the rest of the way, still enough to lead the team. HB has looked very good overall as a smallball power-forward, but at some point I think we're going to want to see the Big German back in uniform.

Since Dirk was a game time decision for Dallas on Monday, it would seem at least a solid bet he will be ready to make his return soon.  What will be interesting at that point is how he and Harrison Barnes mesh, with Barnes sliding back down to small forward (I'm assuming). Give Dorian Finney-Smith credit: he got an opportunity and played hard, competed on switches, used his length to bother bigger opponents, and even knocked down a few open shots. At one point he ended up on the floor diving for a loose ball. Even if he doesn't start again all year, he's already done more than I think anyone realistically expected back in the preseason (especially since many didn't think he'd even make the team).

Third time is not the charm

New York managed just 36 points in the first half, but outscored Dallas 31-12 in the third quarter alone. For a team with as little offensive firepower as Dallas has, that's an extremely difficult thing to overcome. While the Mavs had controlled the pace for much of a early going, in the third period you could see the Knicks make a concerted effort to push the ball and get early offense. Once the rotations started to get slower, the Mavs were toast, even if they were wearing those fly skyline jerseys.

Did I mention Dallas has no playmakers?

The sad state of the team right now is that J.J. Barea is the best playmaker on the team, and it's not even particularly close.  He did his part with 17 points and 4 assists, but he needs help.  Seth Curry has had flashes, but he has surprisingly yet to get the 3-ball going (he was 1-7 tonight; the team was 5-28 overall).  So guard-deprived are the Mavs that Justin Anderson has been used to initiate offense the last few games, but he too has had a rough go of it on offense, getting the goose egg with an 0-11 showing (0-5 from distance).

Getting both D-Will and Devin Harris back will be great, but given the injury histories of those two, there's a chance we'll have to endure a lot more of this going forward. Seth Curry has played 30+ minutes three straight games, and with the roster the way it is, Rick Carlisle will probably have no choice but to let him play through some ups and downs.

The schedule won't get much easier, as Dallas visits Boston Wednesday, before hosting Chandler Parsons and the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night.