The Mavericks lost again, a skid that has reached five straight games now, something this team hasn't done since December 2012. The TK-TK loss to the Indiana Pacers on a Saturday afternoon game was once again just within their reach, but still just out of their grasp. There have been problems with this roster all season, but they're all surfacing in a hurry over the past few weeks, and it's not pretty.
Despite moments of sharp play, the Mavericks lost the first and second quarter, trailing 55-51 at the half. The third quarter brought more of the same, as Paul George, quiet through 24 minutes, dropped 10 points in the frame. Finally, Rick Carlisle snapped, and made a play that I really liked, turning to small ball with Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons as the two bigs.
Every rebound turned into a struggle and the defense was just barely hanging on, but that lineup went on an 11-5 run that cut Indiana's lead to 88-86 with seven minutes to go, putting Dallas into position to win a game that they had been slowly leaking away.
But as Dallas stuck with that super small lineup -- I mean, who the hell else are you going to play -- the defense caught up to them, as it inevitably would. That's the thing about these lineups. Dirk can only fake defense for a few possessions, not an entire quarter as the team's center without a single positive defender on the court. It wasn't a surprise when Indiana scored on eight of nine possessions at one point. Dallas drew within three, but never could close the gap completely. They wasn't another killer lineup to turn to after this one had cut into the lead. There's only so much maneuvering this team can do, because the sums of this team's parts just isn't adding up.
David Lee is better at Zaza at virtually everything
For the hundredth time, I'll preface this by saying Zaza Pachulia has done more for the Mavericks than they ever could have hoped for. That said, he provides almost no impact these days on the court, while actively hurting the team with "negative spacing." Multiple times, drives by Chandler Parsons or a guard were snuffed out because Pachulia's man completely left him to double team the ball. It's a frustrating thing to watch, particularly when David Lee's sitting on the bench. Lee can finish, is a threat rolling to the rim, has shown a jump shot that's sharper and stretches farther than Pachulia's (although equally limited) and honestly is a better, more mobile defender for today's NBA (while still not being anything exceptional).
Among everything, Dirk Nowitzki's still cooking
When Dirk slapped a towel away in frustration when Dallas went down nine with under two minutes to play, it was completely deserved. That he can still score 30 points on just 16 shots is a testament to the 37-year-old legend. You feel his frustration right now, and it's completely deserved. Five years after the Mavericks said they'd bring someone in to make Dirk the second best player, he's still the only guy going for them, just about. Ah well. What a shame.
Myles Turner's a player, man
Respect for the Dallas product. That kid can play, and there's still leaps and bounds by which his game can grow. If you were to redraft the 2015 NBA Draft, would he go third overall? Fourth? I think he'd have to be top five, for sure.