DONUT 1: You can note the fact that this was the fourth game in five nights, or the sixth in nine, all on the road, but you can't forgive what appeared to be an unwillingness to battle as a team … especially when you've seen if for two-and-a-half games.
Since the clock began to tick in the second half of the Lakers' game, Dallas looks like it is together on the road in spirit only. Their minds and hearts seemed to have returned home for a little rest and relaxation a while back. An early flight. First-class. Minds and hearts even fit in the overhead storage bin, so it's not that hard to get the airlines to arrange such things.
When the trip began, Jason Terry commented that the team had the chance to get their "chemistry" and "swagger" back. The latter certainly hasn't come to fruition. The first? We suppose it's possible to bond while sharing the humiliation of thorough defeat.
We want to find the silver linings, and perhaps we'll even give it a try in a moment, but it's hard to feel positively about anything currently taking place with the Mavs. The "Chemistry Vibe'' trumpeted by coach Rick Carlisle, the bond we've raved about, lingers as a pleasant memory of a friend since passed.
That former version of Dallas feels more like a ghost haunting our DVR than a piece of what we're currently watching. Things can change in an instant … but with only five games to play, those instances are shrinking.
DONUT 2: Dirk Nowitzki pointed out that this team essentially has the No. 3 seed wrapped up, and the team is playing like that is the case. (He also notes that whomever the Dallas Mavericks play, it's going to be a ‘slugfest''):
Considering this, when do you begin to look to take advantage of the chances to rest some players … regardless of whether or not they're asking for it?
DONUT 3: Let's take a quick peek at the games leading up to the Portland matchup, followed by their performance there.
*Dirk Nowitzki: Over the previous six games (not including Portland), The UberMan is averaging 21.8 points and 8.2 rebounds, but has scored under 20 three times and hit only 42 percent of his field goals, including only 25 percent behind the arc.
Against Portland, Dirk was the Mavs third leading scorer with 16 points on 5-of-12 attempts, along with five rebounds and seven trips to the free-throw line, where he converted six.
*Jason Kidd: Since March 6, over the course of 15 games, Kidd is averaging 5.9 points, 8.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds while shooting 31.5 percent, and 23.9 percent behind the arc.
Against Portland, Kidd went scoreless, missing all six of his shots, with five of those coming behind the arc. He did have three steals and a block, but only four assists and appeared to begin to reserve his energies as the game went on.
*Jason Terry: Over the previous four games, Terry is averaging 11 points and 4.5 assists, and hitting only 31.4 percent of his shots from the floor and 15 percent behind the three-point line.
Against Portland, Terry scored four points on 1-of-6 shooting, adding zero rebounds, one assists, one turnover and nothing else … he had as many personal fouls (four) as any positive statistic.
True, this was game four in five nights and act three in a tragedy that saw the Mavs suffer the slings and arrows of being outplayed by a severe margin, while being unable to take arms against their mounting sea of troubles … to loosely quote some obscure writer … yet, could that be all the more reason to steal rest where it can be taken, with the individual game outcome(s) a sacrifice at the feet of playoff hopes.
It's not like these veterans are gaining much in these minutes anyway … at least not with their current play.
Said Dirk: "We need some home cooking now. Hopefully, we'll have Tyson back and then we got to go for it again. We got to play better, get more out of myself. Jet hasn't been there on this trip. J-Kidd's got to make some shots. Just all across the board."
He's pinpointing the right guys. But do they need simply "home cooking''? Or something more (less) than that?
DONUT 4: Now for those silver linings … though it feel akin to pointing out the cinderblock pulling you beneath the waves isn't chaffing your ankle.
First off, we're here for you. We at DallasBasketball.com will share with you a shoulder to cry on, on DB.com Boards, D on Twitter, and with DB.com Boards discussion here. Oh, and on the Dallas Mavericks FISH Facebook Page (give us a like!) ... And if you want to meet us at ThreeSheets or Esparza's, we're down for that, too.
DONUT 5: Shawn Marion once again found himself in the starting lineup, making the DeShawn Stevenson experiment at small forward seem like a one-game trial … and once again perhaps toying with Marion's limits for "rag-dolling."
And again, Marion was one of the lone bright spots for the Mavs. He finished with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting, even sinking his lone 3-point attempt. (Nine fingers straight, one finger pointed toward the concession stand, ball heaved from the belt buckle. Don't try this at home, kids.) For much of the game, before fouls limited JJ Barea's time on the court, only two Mavs appeared genuinely invested in the game: Marion and Barea.
Marion did lead the team with three turnovers, but it's hard to pick on one of the few who came ready to match the level of effort put forth by the Blazers.
DONUT 6: We are stretching that silver lining here, but here goes:
Roddy Beaubois has seen his confidence shaken, at least from our looking in perspective, and needed to taste a reminder of success. Though the bulk of it wouldn't come until the game was well out of reach, Roddy B found just that with 16 second-half points on 5-of-7 shooting.
He totaled a team-high 20 points, tied a team high with four assists and was aggressive enough to earn six attempts from the free-throw line.
This wasn't the breakthrough performance we've been waiting for, but it's a start. It's a reminder that things can work for the youngster.
It's only a baby step, but if it leads to another, it could be the biggest positive to come from a third consecutive loss.
You need to see this piece on Roddy B. Using coaching-level video analysis, it explains everything about his struggles.(And if you aren't yet a Premium Mavs Fan, dig that dime outta Ross Perot Jr.'s sofa cushions and join up!)
We do, at least, like the three important observations made about Roddy B by three important people. To wit:
"I'm not playing well right now, so I have to find a way to get back to the way I was. It's nothing crazy. I just have to play better basketball . . .
I just need to keep pushing myself. -- Rodrigue Beaubois.
"He's at a point here where he's struggling a bit, so when you're struggling and you get pulled, you got to regroup and get ready for the next one. The games keep coming and that's a good thing." - coach Rick Carlisle.
"It's kind of hard sometimes. Everybody's in his ear. If he shoots his first shot, somebody says to drive. If he drives and is in a crowd and turns it over, it's ‘shoot the ball.' So sometimes it's hard as a young player. Everybody's on you and riding you and you got to find your way through it and find ways to make the right decisions at the right time. He'll be OK." - Dirk Nowitzki.
All three, slightly different perspectives. All three accurate takes. None of them quite threaten to solve the problem, though, quite like letting the kid actually play.
DONUT 6: Your highlights package:
DONUT 7: If you're looking for one play that may have epitomized the Mavs versus the Blazers, this may be it.
In the third quarter, as a loose ball headed towards the stands, Rudy Fernandez hustled to the ball, leapt and kept it inbounds, leading to an easy basket for his team. There were six players total on the TV screen as this play unfolded, three from each team.
The three Mavs stood motionless and watched the proceedings. Each of the three Blazers either broke towards the ball or to put themselves in position to coral any save attempt.
Three Mavs idly watching. Three Blazers hustling to make a play.
There's your night against the Blazers.
DONUT 8: At what point do we begin to question the Mavs personnel dept. assessment of Gerald Wallace?
He appears reborn in Portland, and went 8-of-10 from the floor against the Mavs for a team-high 19 points. And even before he was "reborn.'' He was doing just fine in Charlotte, a freakishly athletic hustler who the Mavs think of as a non-halfcourt threat on offense?
How wrong to the Mavs look now in not more seriously considering trading for him? How wrong is Wallace prepared to make them look over the course of a best-of-seven series?
Wallace plays small forward (which he loves), plays the 4 … and when Portland went small, he even played center – demanding that Brendan Haywood try to guard him in the open floor.
If a Portland-Dallas series comes down to talent? Good match.
If it comes down to hustle? It's hard not to give a respectful nod to whatever team Gerald Wallace is on.
DONUT 9: With the game out of reach and the Dallas bench emptied, Brian Cardinal inadvertently poked Andre Miller in the eye … and could be heard to say, "I hope you can enjoy the victory with one friggin' eye."
OK, he didn't say that, but it had to cross Carlisle's mind, right? True, it was one of his earlier films, but still a classic.
Maybe we're thinking of Jim Carrey.
DONUT 10: Cheer yourself up with a visit to the DB.com Store! , perhaps? It always puts a smile on our faces.
MAVSELLANEOUS: "There's a good chance we'll see them in the playoffs," Big Wood says of Portland. "They're probably going to be pretty confident with
that matchup." Brendan's honesty is appreciated. But the quote sounds like a sign of the wrong sort of thinking already seeping in. … Sorry, you'll get
little "It-would've-been-different-with-Tyson'' talk in this space. Tyson played at LA and GS, did he not? … The Texas Legends are going to the
D-League playoffs Sunday. (Against the hated Tulsa 66ers). They will do so without PG Antonio Daniels, ESPN reporting that he's getting a 10-day
contract with the Sixers. … Sefko reports that there has been contact between Mavs assistant Terry Stotts and the University of Oklahoma regarding the
head-coaching vacancy … Sunday birthdays: DeShawn Stevenson and Mavs PR boss Sarah Melton. Today's birthdays: Two brilliant Mavs-scribblin' minds, Eddie Sefko and our own David Lord!
DONUT 12: If you want to look at things positively, Dallas will have the chance to regain some semblance of strength as they play three good teams in their final five games: Denver (Wednesday night in Dallas), and then Houston and New Orleans to close out the season. Much as the Lakers or Portland presented the Mavs with an opportunity to find their way out of their rut against playoff-caliber opponents, these could do the same.
We do believe this: Dallas' problems right now have little to do with altered lineups or re-tinkered strategies.
Consider Jason Kidd's X-and-O's comment about guard matchups:
"When (the Blazers) come in with bigger guards against our smaller guards, it puts some pressure on us defensively,'' he said. "We've got to be able to put pressure on them on the offensive end. That's something that, if we do play them, we'll have to look at."
But what is there to "look at'' strategically that is new? Did Jason Terry just shrink? Did Brandon Roy get bulkier over the weekend?
This isn't strategy. This isn't starting DeShawn. This isn't X's-and-O's.
This is something else. And whatever it is, we only hope the Mavs are as tired of being it as we are of writing it.