We do it with the help of DB.com staffer BJ Stahl and with DB.com Quoteboard partner McKinneyDentist.com
DONUT 1: "Our undoing was the beginning of the third quarter when we went 3-for-19. I just kept believing that we were going to hit a hot streak." -Coach Rick Carlisle.
That was part of the one-night "undoing,'' but the anticipation of a "streak'' is now part of a month-long drought. Yes, in the third, Dallas scored just 17 while Monta Ellis scored 18 alone. But how many times lately do we find ourselves discussing how the Mavs scored 18 or 17 or 15 points in a quarter?
You score 15 points in too many quarters, you've got yourself a springtime-long "undoing.''
DONUT 2: "I thought our defense was solid in the fourth. We just couldn't make that one play on offense to get over the hump." -Dirk Nowitzki.
True and troubling for a team with a "clutch-closer'' relationship … that isn't living up to it in the second half of this season. "The Mavs always win games decided by five points or fewer''?
That was last calendar year.
This season, they allow huge 3's by Ellis and Curry, they commit a Jason Terry turnover, and they fail to overcome 13-0 runs by opponents – even
lottery-bound opponents like this one.
DONUT 3: "I think we just let a few little mishaps take us out of our game." -Shawn Marion.
What's funny, though, is that the "mishaps'' didn't come in the form of a skillion turnovers. There were, rather, a bunch of tiny cracks in the dike. … and then the dark clouds that threaten more moisture. Jason Kidd banged his knee at game's end. Tyson Chandler fell and hurt his back.
But are apparently fine for tonight in Portland … but the cracks and the clouds do exist.
DONUT 4: Regarding the dreadful long-range shooting -- Dallas went 5-of-25 from distance …
"We've got to just keep stepping into those threes if they're there. If not, we've got to take it to the basket . . . On a night like tonight, if the shots aren't going in we've got to find something else." -Dirk Nowitzki.
Is Dirk contradicting himself here? Do keep shooting ‘em or don't keep shooting ‘em?
The Mavs offense has reduced itself to ONE penetrator: JJB. There are not good reasons – not against the Warriors and not against most anybody – why
Beaubois and Terry for sure, and maybe Marion and Dirk, too, cannot "find something else'' in the form of taking it to the basket.
DONUT 5: Starting at small forward, DeShawn Stevenson -- wait, what?
"I thought Stevenson got off to a good start in the game. He had some good looks in the third, made a three. I don't think this had anything to do with the lineup, and Marion off the bench was really good the last time we were here." -Coach Rick Carlisle.
I'll be frank: This smells like Rick "coaching not to lose.''
DeShawn was completely ineffective. He didn't do anything against Monta (32 points), he didn't do anything on offense (1-of-6 shooting, showing himself to be the 25-percent shooter he's been since February) and the trickle-down effect on the rotation only shoved Peja and Roddy B further down in it.
In other words, it makes as much sense this morning as it did yesterday afternoon, when the buzz about it began.
Here's the most bothersome part to me: Rick's stated defense of the move.
"I don't think this (loss) had anything to do with the lineup.''
Translated, starting DeShawn didn't lose us the game.
Ah, but it didn't WIN you the game, either. Nor was it destined to.
WINNING the game, and making moves designed to do so, and playing from your strength when you are a 53-game winner opposing a 33-game winner … that
WOULD'VE had something to do with the lineup.
We break this down in greater detail, plus over full coverage of the game, in Your All-Access Pass here (be a Premium Mavs Fan for just about a dime-a-day!)
DONUT 6: "That's what it is. It's okay. I've just got to keep doing what I do. That's it. That's it." -Shawn Marion on moving back to the bench ….
ESPN's Tim MacMahon seems to be trying to chase this down, and we will powwow with ‘Trix once the Mavs get back into town. It didn't affect his play – 21 points, eight rebounds – but I bet you it affected his mental state.
This is EXACTLY what ‘Trix asked not be done.
He doesn't like it, and it doesn't help the team.
And one more thing: It doesn't help prepare this club to play a best-of-seven series against Portland or New Orleans or whomever. Isn't that still the
DONUT 7: "I'm all right. Just sore." -Tyson Chandler.
Did Dallas go SmallBall at the end? Or is TY's back bothering him?
"He would have finished the game,'' Rick said, "but he was laboring and appeared to be limping. I just decided to go with a healthier guy at that moment."
So … a little of both?
DONUT 8: "This is a big game against a team that we could play in the first round of the playoffs. And that's what it boils down to." -Shawn Marion.
Ah, the final game of the Last Epic Road Trip -- the sixth-place Portland Trailblazers tonight (8 p.m., TXA).
It'd be nice to feel good about things going into a meeting with the 44-win Blazers, but …
The Blazers have won seven of 10. And eight straight at home. And this weekend, they beat OKC 98-91 in a game in which they allowed just four turnovers.
Which team, right now, seems more capable of avoiding "mishaps''?
DONUT 9: "We've been one of the better teams on back-to-backs, and I have confidence in these guys. It was a tough night, but we've got to shake it off." -Coach Rick Carlisle.
This is true. It is something.
DONUT 10: "We'd love to get some wins here before we start off, but the playoffs are also a completely new season. We'd love to get some momentum, start making some shots, look a little better. We look a little flat lately, look a little tired. So hopefully we can step it up here." -Dirk Nowitzki
Is that optimism? Or pessimism? Or realism? Certainly there is plenty of room aboard the Mavs bandwagon at this moment (conversely, the Dallas
Mavericks DB.com Facebook Page is fillin' up – but you are welcome to c'mon in with a LIKE!).
DONUT 11: "The last few seasons, we haven't gotten out of the first round. So that's the key to the whole thing right now. That's got to be our focus." -Jason Terry.
Ohhh, Jet. You are so right.
Now explain how one side of your brain can be calmly saying such a thing while the other side of your brain is allowing itself to be tormented by the likes of Matt Barnes?
I think Jet nailed it – stumbled into it, really: Focus. The mishaps, the boneheadedness, the turnovers, the lineup change, the apparent presence of Al Capp's Joe Btfsplk on the bench … the Lakers can beat you without those things.
The Warriors can only beat you if you allow those things to unplug from your focus.
And the Blazers? Somewhere in the middle, I suppose. I just know that the Mavs are now 8-7 since March 6 and that Portland is good enough to make
Dallas spend the last 30 days playing .500 ball.
DONUT 12: "Basically, looks like we've got the three-seed locked up." -Dirk Nowitzki