DONUTS: Dirk Vs. Pau And Bulls Mourning

Saturday Morning Mavs Donuts … as we mourn a loss in Dallas, amuse ourselves with other sporting folly, and prep for tonight's Mavs-at-Hawks game – and I've got the pre- and postgame hosting duties with Ro Blackman on FS Southwest starting at 6:30!

DONUT 1: This "Best Foreign Player Ever'' argument rambles on – maybe just to fill space, inasmuch as I thought was settled in 2006 when Gasol was the best player on a good Memphis team and Dirk was the best player on a good Dallas team and the Mavs won their playoff series 4-0.

But still somebody wants to debate it, apparently because Pau is now a "championship player''?

Anyone who thinks Pau is superior to Dirk must have an imagination that prevents them from visualizing what the Lakers would've been accomplishing with Kobe and Nowitzki together for the last few years.

DONUT 2: The truth about Kobe, in fact, is the same as the truth about Pau: Neither of them were ever going to win anything unless they either a) had a superstar sidekick or b) were themselves a superstar sidekick.

The Mavs try. "Bless their heart'' (as ladies in Texas say when they mean to display a subtle sympathy for a struggling soul) they try. But what they are too often left with was on display in Friday's 88-83 home loss to Chicago: "Star sidekicks'' playing like they should be kicked to the curb … and non-star sidekicks responding to the situation by trying to raise their game to star-level.

Exhibit A continues to be Jose Juan Barea.

There is no lack of effort on his part (something that, compared to how some of those Bulls put out, cannot be said about every member of the Dallas squad). But in his last three games, JJB is 5-of-27 (and 0-of-9 from the arc). He doesn't deserve to be the whipping boy here; he is simply trying to do something he is less-than-capable of doing.

The solution to what ails JJB is not complicated: Rick Carlisle needs to take that "green light'' the kid is given and turn it to "yellow.''

DONUT 3: Now, is this an overall indictment of Dallas' talent? Not really, because which supporting cast would you rather have, the guys who lined up alongside Dirk or the guys who lined up alongside Derrick Rose?

Nothing against, say, Taj Gibson (Chicago's 26th overall pick last year) but he didn't "play'' his way to 18 rebounds and 17 points last night; he "worked'' his way there. And this after the Bulls' previous game in San Antonio, where Taj totaled five rebounds and zero points on 0-of-7 shooting.

DONUT 4: This football game today at Wrigley Field? In which all plays will be run toward the west end zone because there really is barely enough room to even HAVE an east end zone?

Organized by the same folks who brought you the "Think Ahead'' bumper sticker with the word "Ahead'' running off the right side of the page.

DONUT 5: Taj Gibson's 3-pointer wasn't "lucky,'' exactly; it came as the result of one of Chicago's absurd total of 20 offensive rebounds, so it was "luck earned. Gibson said after the game that it is the first 3-pointer he has made in any level of competitive basketball after grade school.

I'm prepared to dispute even that claim. So Taj was making 3-pointers in, like, third grade? Eight-year-olds usually don't make shots from 20 feet out. So, let's just say it's the first trey he's ever made and be done with it.

DONUT 6: Rose pulled a ball from Kidd's grip. Gibson and Noah pulled balls from the grips of Dirk and Haywood. "Want-to''?

DONUT 7: The Mavs came in having won 21 of the last 24 against the Bulls and, just for good measure, didn't Dallas beat ‘em twice in this preseason, too? That's why it's so disappointing for Dallas to have been up 65-58 with10 minutes left. You crush the Bulls right there – as you've done so many times before in the last 10 or 12 years – and you get to say you won a "playoff-type game.'' (Complete with no fast-break points for either team in the entire first half.)

But you lose it? Like that? You can barely spit the word "playoffs'' out of your mouth.

DONUT 8: If you think Caron Butler's 12 points represent a sign that Dirk has his "Robin'' – hey, Tuff Juice scored in double-figures!'' – you clearly did not watch the game.

DONUT 9: I would like to pretend to believe that if one of your problems is that Dirk is struggling at the free-throw line, you probably don't have many problems.

But he missed a critical one in the late-going against the Bulls, was 3-of-6 in the game, and is now at 84 percent for the year. And yes, it's a problem, in part because the 7-4 Mavs just don't have much margin for error right now.

DONUT 10: Chris Bosh keeps saying he wants to "chill.'' But if he wanted to "chill,'' shouldn't he have continued wintering in Canada?

DONUT 11: Kansas University officials are in trouble for illegally selling Jayhawks football tickets, which of course, are a rip-off at any price.

DONUT 12: The Mavs are at Atlanta tonight, their 3-1 road record in some jeopardy. And while we should keep the eye on that prize, it's hard to ignore the fact that they are now just 4-3 at home. (Where they are not "Protecting This House.'') And it's hard to avoid letting the mind wander ahead, when after the Atlanta trip and a Tuesday home meeting with Detroit, they play back-to-back games at OKC and at San Antonio before hosting Miami next Saturday …

A potentially disastrous string of games. Unless a few of these characters start showing some character.

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