DONUT 1: It was 3 o'clock in the morning, and the world-weary stars of the Miami Heat simply needed some rest before their ensuing tipoff in Dallas. So LeBron James and Dwyane Wade found an elevator at the luxury hotel The Crescent.
It would be the only time all Saturday the heralded superstars of the Heat appeared to be in coordination.
It would be the rare time this season when the much-ballyhooed program of the Heat was on an elevator that actually went up.
DONUT 2: "Bottom line,'' said Miami coach Erik Spolstra after the Heat's 106-95 loss at Dallas.
"Bottom line is it's got to be painful." "Until we accept that pain and do something about it, these will be the results.''
So. … is it?
The Heat conducted a players-only team meeting after the loss, delaying the opening of the locker room for 50 minutes (that's 40 minutes beyond what the NBA deems acceptable, for anybody who cares about us poor ink-stained hacks).
But they really don't need meetings off the court. They could use some bonding on the court.
DONUT 3: By the way, I hear that when LeBron and Wade and Bosh called that players-only meeting, 12 of the 15 guys weren't sure they were invited.
DONUT 4: Miami is now 9-8, a laughable disappointment given the self-imposed expectations that had sugar-plum-minded fans thinking the 2010-11 NBA season would be nothing more than a series of 82 Christmases. At various moments in this game – say, when Dallas moved to a game-best 90-71 lead with 9:47 left and Wade and LeBron were a combined 7-of-25 shooting – Miami played like a physically-blessed pick-up team. … one on which guys didn't really know each other … and didn't especially love each other, either.
Maybe next time out, coach Spolstra, y'all go Shirts-vs.-Skins?
DONUT 5: The Mavericks – 12-4 and accustomed to winning due to the domination of fourth quarters – this time shut down the visitors in a third quarter during which they started with a 13-0 run, received nice second-banana scoring from Caron Butler (12 in the quarter and 23 for the game), and used their suddenly-elite defense to limit Miami to 3-of-18 shooting in the period.
That's right: A team featuring LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh … and, by the way, a dozen other NBA-level players who've been handed paychecks and uniforms, including ex-Mav center Erick Dampier, making his debut … made a total of three field goals in the entire quarter.
"This shouldn't be fun,'' Spolstra said, certainly describing his own discomfort and still focusing on the "pain'' theme. "And it should be painful to go thru a third quarter like that.''
DONUT 6: After three quarters, Miami was shooting 35 percent. The Heat made a semi-inspired push in the fourth, nudging closer. But Dallas still limited them to 41.3-percent shooting.
I mentioned this on the Mavs postgame show on ESPN Radio; it was off-the-cuff at the time I said it but I think I can back it up here as a pivotal play: With just under three minutes left and Dallas up 98-90, James plunged into the lane, and an electrified audience at the American Airlines Center anticipated a scene it has viewed so many times before: Surely LeBron was going to rise above the Dallas defense and use his unique combination of size and athleticism to trigger a momentum-stealing three-point play.
But center Tyson Chandler (the Dallas newcomer who is the spine of the Mavs' defense) threw LeBron a changeup. Rather than attempting to block the shot, as is Chandler's M.O., he positioned himself to absorb a violent collision with James … and drew the charge.
Chandler had spent the week causing assorted Pistons, Thunder and Spurs to venture inside but not dare toss up a shot, lest they earn a Spaulding tattoo. Maybe that was in LeBron's head?
DONUT 7: It is conventional wisdom to insist that the big names that make up "Miami Thrice'' "don't have enough help.'' But on Saturday, the blame didn't go to the "other guys.''
(Sidebar: Maybe this outcome isn't at all about "blame,'' given the fact that Dallas just played four games in five nights, including bouts with marquee teams from Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Miami, and won them all.)
Wade was good, 8-of-16 for 22 points … but he wasn't any better than Butler and his 23 points.
LeBron was exciting, but he managed just 5-of-19 shooting for an inefficient 23 points, and he was matched by Dallas MVP candidate Dirk Nowitzki with 22.
Bosh was 9-of-18 for 22 points – meaning Miami had three players score at least 22 each. But he was overshadowed by Chandler, who was 6-of-10 from the floor for 14 points, with all three of Dallas' blocks and 17 rebounds. (And Dallas had six players in double figures, an oft-stated "depth-and-balance'' goal of coach Rick Carlisle.)
Late into the night, I was walking through the AAC corridor reading a printed-out boxscore. Eddie House approached me.
"Can I see that? Can I borrow that?'' he asked nicely.
I let him keep it. I know what it said: Three bigshots did too little ….nine lesser shots did less.
DONUT 8: There is no great shame is losing at Dallas on the second night of a back-to-back. (Actually, Miami should be used to this; since the 2006 Finals win over these same Mavericks, the Heat has lost 13 straight against Dallas.) And indeed, the Miami mood isn't about shame; it's about frustration. Yet the leaders of this team and this organization seem to be floating along in a state of denial.
"We're 17 games in,'' Spolstra said. "We will figure this thing out."
DONUT 9: I was left giggling at a series of tweets issued by a media "insider'' who is pretending to know that Spolstra is secure and that Pat Riley isn't coming downstairs to take over this mess.
I'll paraphrase the tweets: "Spolstra WILL NOT lose his job unless his players turn on him.''
And now I'll translate in my lingo: "When LeBron and Wade and Bosh begin to look for someone to blame, they will pick through each other … and then they will settle on picking their coach.''
DONUT 10: We're in the process of assembling a pretty large gang of us for the Dec. 28 Mavs game ...
It's DB.com Night at the Mavs! We'll get together at the AAC on Tuesday, Dec. 28 … It's Raptors at Mavs, and when you visit The newly re-opened DB.com Store to order …We'll get you:
*Your TWO upper-deck tickets
*Your special-edition DB.com Night at the Mavs t-shirt
*And your pre-game meet-and-greet with a special guest or two
For a grand total of 22 bucks! (Or just $29 if you want two shirts!)
Yes, this is a very affordable way for you to do this. ... a DB.com Get-Together at a very low price! ... It's time for us to get together, time for us to get in the game, time for us to get suited up!
The shirts (DB.com originals designed by the brilliant Beau Shoulders) are limited-edition, and there is a limit to the ticket availability, too, though Ryan at MavCowTickets is pulling all the strings he can. …
So let's get in the game! DB.com Night at the Mavs! C'mon along!
DONUT 11: To those who say LeBron "doesn't have a good enough supporting cast,'' I say, "Maybe that's because he left them all in Cleveland.''
Those Cavs really weren't bad, you know. They'd win 60 on you. They'd go to the NBA Finals.
Supporting cast? They'd throw Varejao, Shaq and Big Z at you at center, and Jamison alongside them.
Oh, and speaking of "supporting,'' in Cleveland, the town did that well enough to never need "how-to'' manuals on cheering, either.
DONUT 12: Dallas-area native Chris Bosh is now 0-7 lifetime in visits to Big D, which maybe wouldn't be such a big deal … if he didn't effort so to make it a little deal.
It was 24 hours earlier – a few hours before Miami boarded that downtown-Dallas elevator – when Bosh granted a postgame interview following an innocuous win over the lowly Sixers. Chris was asked if his level of excitement was high in anticipation of visiting his Texas hometown.
"Not really,'' Bosh said coolly. "I'm just being honest.''
Well, maybe Chris Bosh and the Heat should treat these "mundane'' outings like they are a bigger deal.
Or maybe nothing the Heat is doing is really a big deal at all.