DONUT 1: The Dallas Mavericks room was on ice.
Jason Kidd was typical: Somber, tired and frozen, the last adjective a result of the ice pads, packs and buckets that he wore while slumped in his dressing cubicle. They were in place as medical help, of course.
But the ice pads, packs and buckets were also shields. … an igloo under which to momentarily hide before collecting his thoughts.
"That,'' Kidd finally mumbled, trying to make sense of this 84-82 loss, "is basketball.''
As I wrote immediately afterwards, that … is choking.
This morning, my DB.com First Impressions column is the lead piece on all of FOXSports. Yay!? You know me: I'm not trolling for hits by writing something sexy about "choking.'' I'm not exactly reveling in the attention, you know?
DONUT 2: This game was all Mavericks. After getting a 2-0 series lead at home, and then after some failed execution late in Game 3 at Portland that this team believes prevented it from cruising to a3-0 lead, it spend three quarters playing basketball in a most dominant way.
A championship way.
Put behind it was not only the now-admitted-to bad call on Kidd's 3-pointer in Game 3 (with 12.9 seconds, refs wrongly re-ruled it a 2 and now the NBA has admitted the error) … but also, hell, put behind it would be the three-Round-1-ousters-in-four-years albatross.
No, pounding a good Blazers team in Round 1 by a final tally of 4-1 or so (aw, they'd probably let the Blazers get one, if only to make Brandon Roy stop weaping) wouldn't erase the 2006 NBA Finals.
But there would be advancement to Round 2. … and at least another swing at doing so.
DONUT 3: An insurmountable 23-point lead.
The Mavericks were piling it on. You shoulda seen us partying at ThreeSheets, 200 strong, UberMan t-shirts and shots on Fish! Somewhere in Dallas, Laura Miller was fingering her pearl necklace and asking Tom Leppert if she could oversee the parade route.
And then …
Portland, which had scored 35 points in the entire first half … and then missed 15 straight shots in the third quarter … then in the fourth quarter scored 35 again.
DONUT 4: On an individual basis, Dallas didn't just give up its lead in the series, now knotted at 2-2 with a Game 5 back here in Dallas on Monday (7:30 tip). On an individual basis, Brandon Roy took it.
Roy, a former All-Star with bad knees and a sudden habit of turning every moment into a "Terms of Endearment'' sequel, spent three quarters responding poorly to the demands of playing a Game 4 just 40 hours after Game 3.
But with 1.9 seconds remaining in the third quarter, though, Roy hit a 24 foot trey. It "cut'' the Dallas lead to 67-49, if you want to call an 18-point lead "cut.''
In retrospect, though?
"The way we finished the third quarter was poor," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "The last 3 that Roy hit probably gave him a little more confidence headed into the fourth."
DONUT 5: To that moment, Roy had four points in the game.
Including that moment, he scored 21 points in the final 15 minutes and 1.9 seconds to total 24. He was 8-of-10 from the field. He completed a 4-point play with 1:06 remaining that tied the score at 82-all. He roasted Dallas' best defender, Shawn Marion, who continually overplayed Roy to one side and might need to get the Mavs scouting dept. to re-write that gameplan.
"I guess it was a foul," Marion said. "It is what it is. That was just a good play. Good call, or, bad call, that's not even nothing. We lost that game in the whole fourth quarter."
With 39.2 seconds remaining, Roy did it again, taking Marion one-on-one with an accidental bankshot.
Naturally. Because this is the way the Mavs do it, right? Chokes and flukes and the Elias Sports Bureau scribbling so furiously to keep up with the record-setting failures that all their professors have inkgasms, right?
The Same Ol' Mavericks?
Slow down there, prisoner. The execution scaffold isn't completed yet.
DONUT 6: They are NOT "The Same Ol' Mavs.'' Not yet. They haven't lost the series at 2-2 anymore than they'd won it at 2-0. Portland wanted to win a game last week in Dallas. Epic fail. Dallas wanted to win a game this weekend in Portland. Epic fail.
The Blazers now have momentum, a valuable chip.
"They have the momentum,'' Jason Terry said. "And they rode the wave.''
The Mavs still have home-court edge, with Games 5 and 7 scheduled to be played at the AAC.
Is that not an equally valuable chip? Is that not what we all participated in those 82 for?
DONUT 7: There are a skillion back-to-the-drawing-board issues to be considered now. Just one example:
Dirk was allowed how many fourth-quarter shots?
But here's a re-evaluation from the media-and-fan standpoint: Let's not be in a rush to label them "The Same Ol' Mavs.'' If what happened Saturday occurs again Monday and Thursday, we will be in possession of overwhelming evidence that "SOM'' is accurate. We will have all summer to smell the sweat and the vomit and the death.
The execution scaffold will become a stage.
But now? Why now? Why attempt to anticipate disaster for a team tied 2-2 in a series?
Maybe this is where website hits come into play. Screaming "They Choked!'' is emotional but probably accurate. Screaming "They Will Choke Again Monday And Again Thursday And Forever More!''?
That is either trolling … or maybe a general life attitude that transforms chicken salad back into chicken shit.
I'm not in charge of your cheerleading. I think you should Take my 7-day free trial ...
for Mavs Premium! and I think you should LIKE the DB.com Dallas Mavericks Facebook Page and I'd invite you get a DB.com Mavs t-shirt like the "REUNION ROWDIES! from the DB.com store or the Mavs Fan Shops.
You wanna do a White-Out on Monday? Do it or don't. You want to turn the AAC into a Rose Garden-like pit? Carlisle is already encouraging Dallas fans to mimic Portland fans, a dangerously-timed notion in the sense that it seems to put some demands on 20,000 people who weren't among the perpetrators of the 23-point crime.
(Having said that about Rick's comment: Gotta love him taking the blame for the collapse. Maybe that's one more way these aren't The Same Ol' Mavs.)
"We should have done some different things (to stop Roy)," Rick Carlisle said. "So, I'm going to take the blame for that."
Anyway, while I'm not in charge of cheerleading, I'm also not in a race to be the first guy knotting the noose. For now, DB.com's time (and obviously, the Mavs' time) is better spent evaluating what's going wrong and how it might be repaired.
You want "Same Ol' Mavs'' grousing? You can certainly find it … including on our own DB.com Boards.
But you won't get it from me. Not yet.
Yeah, I'm a Mavsochist. We invented the term we live it. I deal with it.
DONUT 9: There is no Mavs practice on this Sunday. Why? Maybe it's another shield, like Kidd's ice igloo, a way for Rick to keep his fellas from having to answer questions about being "The Same Ol' Mavs.''
Because they are "soft,'' right? Too "soft'' to answer media questions?
Come on. They just spent an arduous weekend in Portland, a "Death of a Salesman'' business trip.
"Tough luck, Willie Loman. C'mon into the office and let's practice your pitch one more time!
There is some X-and-O's tinkering to be done, but there's really no reason to demand that Jason Kidd get in the gym and work on ballhandling so he doesn't commit a late open-court turnover, is there? There's really no reason to get ‘Trix into the gym to instruct him to quit favoring Roy to one side, is there? You want a practice session open to the media so we can all hear Carlisle scream at people and berate everyone in a show of toughness?
You need to go find Bill Parcells running a practice somewhere.
Why are they taking today off? Um … they're tired, they need their heads and bodies recharged, and it's Easter?
DONUT 10: "It's a game that, you look at it in sum,'' Rick said, "it's a game you shouldn't lose."
The Mavs are pissed. The locker room was pissed and the plane ride home was pissed and I assume Monday's shootaround will feature a little less looseness and a little more pissedness.
"This is definitely up there with the most frustrating losses," said Dirk, and the question is, what will they do with that frustration?
Does it rule them? Or do they rule it?
Mavs Nation must hope they will come to a conclusion, a conclusion that is the result of being both pissed and logical:
It's now a three-game series. First team to two wins, wins.
And "Game 1'' is in Dallas.
You sure you want to jump off the bandwagon and onto the execution scaffold just yet?
DONUT 11: "Afterwards, you're a lot smarter,'' Nowitzki said about second-guessing, echoing Kidd's dismissive view of what he calls "Couch Quarterbacks. "But that doesn't help anybody right now. We got to stay positive.''
Is that made more difficult for you or for me because we were in Miami ... we went through Golden State ... we've played second-fiddle to the Spurs ... we've been lorded over by the Lakers ... we've become a punchline of a different sort from the Mavs teams that used to sport win totals in the teens ... but a punchline nevertheless?
Certainly. But at the risk of belittling the importance of you and me: The mindset of Nowitzki & The Dirkettes is infinitely more critical here than the thoughts of "Willie in Waxahachie'' or "Fish in Flower Mound.''
DONUT 12: Of the Blazers and their boisterous fans, and what was happening during that 23-point blowout-not-to-be, Shawn Marion said, "They could smell it.''
And the Mavs can smell it now, too. They smell the sweat and the vomit and the death. They hear the building of the execution scaffold.
But "Same Ol' Mavs''? The hanging cannot commence because the trial is barely half-over.