All-Access: Analysis Of SA 93, Mavs 71

It is an area where a team's braintrust and its intelligent fans can share deep misery: A plan is in place, a winning plan. The gears simply need to turn ... but the gears stick and break and rust. Spurs 93, Mavs 71 isn't the failure of a plan but rather the failure of the execution of one. We analyze in Your All-Access Pass:



FOREWARD: It was the fourth game in five nights and the sixth in eight; only the Mavs made it look like the 15th in the same timeframe.

It's not an excuse. Not this season. This season it's a weakness. Depth is supposed to ease the impact of the hit, and in time it may, but against the Spurs, playing without Manu Ginobili, Thursday night it was only a second wave of surrender as Dallas fell 93-71

The NBA highlight version of the crushing:



There were some signs of life in the third quarter as the defense finally found its way back to life, holding the Spurs to 11 points on 3-of-20 shooting, yet the offense could only be found on the side of a milk carton floating somewhere in the shadows of the River Walk, as Dallas countered with 13 points on 5-of-21 shooting.

You read that right. The Mavs held the Spurs to 11 points in the third quarter by holding them to 15-percent shooting … and only managed to cut two from the Spurs lead.

There's "old,'' and then there's "forgot how to get to the arena'' … and that may not be the worst news.

THE LOWER BACK: With 27 seconds to play in the first quarter, and the Mavs already down 31-17 (meaning, it's hard to use the injury as an excuse in this contest), Jason Kidd was ushered quickly to the locker room with what is being described as a "lower back" injury. He was immediately deemed "doubtful" to return though that would be downgraded to "out" by halftime.

He'll get evaluated by doctors on Friday with the hope of playing in the Saturday home game against the Hornets.

(Sidebar I here: If Kidd is going to need rest anyway, and his back is even a little sore, is the Hornets game an OK one to miss?)

Beyond this game, if the injury turns out to be serious at all the implications may be huge.

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Dallas does not have another pure point guard on the roster. Delonte West can play the position, but remains somewhat a mix of a shooting guard/point guard, same with Jason Terry and Roddy Beaubois. Lamar Odom has the ability to initiate the offense, but given his less-than-optimum fitness level it may not be wise to thrust this upon him for extended periods just now.

Dallas is blessed to have a bevy of players capable of handling the point, which could make them extremely dangerous as the season unfolds, but cursed in the fact that none are guys you would want to handle the position full-time.

(Sidebar II, though, because this deserves futher examination: Delonte West isn't capable of being a part-time NBA starter? Why couldn't he grab the baton on Thursday? Is he a "combo guard'' by nature or did he just become one in Dallas because Vince lost the starting 2-guard job after one game?)

Kidd is essential to the makeup of this team. Without him, the infrastructure of the rotation takes a severe hit … just as it would with any integral piece. Yet, outside of Dirk, Kidd may be the man Dallas is least prepared to endure a prolonged stretch without.

There stands the hope that this will be a minor ordeal. Should that be the case, this is a bundle of worry without warrant.

If it is serious … maybe there's someone on this roster that will surprise us all.

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DIDN'T THEY READ OUR 'ADVANCED SCOUTING REPORT'?!: If you didn't read NBA scout Kyle Leath's piece dissecting the Spurs and scouting the game, you missed one of the best things DB.com has to offer.

After watching this game, we'd suggest Rick and his staff check out DB.com's Advance Scouting Reports, too, except ...

What Kyle Leath wrote is what the Dallas staff already knows. And that's what's so cool (about DB.com) but so troubling about this game.

The Mavs had their plan. They simply failed to execute it.

The Mavs know to rotate quickly and close on Richard Jefferson at the arc, especally in the left corner. They know to make him put the ball on the floor, pushing him into a weakness.

They didn't execute on that knowledge.

The Mavs know that when Duncan and Blair are on the floor, the Spurs are a poor defensive transition team. They know to run ‘em! ... but Dallas' fast-break efforts were nary a factor except for a series of ill-advised long passes that make it seem as though Everson Walls was playing for San Antonio. (Lots of interceptions. Get it?)

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The Mavs knew that if their first wave of talent could keep it close, Dallas could get into the SA bench and take huge advantage. The Spurs only average 29 off their bench. Dallas averages 45.

But the starters didn't keep it close. Dallas was behind by 28 after a blink.

"You've got to give them credit,'' Dirk said. "They came out on fire."

Yes, yes, but this is an area where a team's braintrust and its intelligent fans (like you!) can share deep misery: The plan was in place. It was a winning plan. The gears simply needed to turn ... but the gears got sticky and they break and they rusted.

THE JAGS: Pop has a system.

So it is said and it must be so. For how else to explain That Bonner Character scoring 17, Gary Neal scoring 12 points on four treys, and somebody named "Green'' who we believe to be old friend Gerald Green's brother playing better than Gerald Green ever did?

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MAVSELLANEOUS: Dallas made 1-of-19 attempts from the arc. The Spurs made 16 of 33 on three-pointers for 49 percent ... Dallas almost threatened to score just 62 in the game to match the franchise mark for futility. ... The Mavs wore their P Diddy-style dark blues ... The last four times San Antonio has played Dallas without one or more members of their ‘Big Three' of Manu, Parker or Duncan, they are 4-0. ... Oh, the 3-5 Mavericks once again out-rebounded an opponent, besting the Spurs 52-44. ... Six games in eight nights. For BOTH teams. Know that.

THE BRIGHT SPOT … WHERE DID I PUT THAT THING: To find a silver lining here, you're going to have to really search … think drowning but smiling at the clarity of the water swallowing your last breaths. There was nothing pretty about this. But, here it goes:

*Lamar Odom started off pretty well, grabbing six rebounds to go with four points in the first quarter. No, there wasn't much to see after that, but the first quarter was nice. So, we've got that going for us.

*The 75-Member Staff is going back and forth on Roddy B. It's hard to say Roddy Beaubois looked any better than anyone else on offense while noting that he was 1-of-8 shooting, but he did add 3 blocks and a steal while displaying some flashes of a defensive presence. He looks so lost sometimes ... but in terms of being a man-on defender, his still-raw athleticism shines.

In our First Impressions, we termed him "a compelling force.'' Too much?

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*Dominique Jones had a pretty layup that required him to hang in the air and maneuver in flight to get the ball around Tim Duncan and through the net.

Messrs. Ortegel, Harper, Followill and Fisher wore neat-o purple-and-pink color-coordinated neckties.

On a Dirk blocked shot of Timmy, The UberMan caught the whiner square in the jaw.

We told you. It's not much, but that's about it for the silver linings here.

HOW BAD WAS IT?: This is the way Johnny Carson used to do it:

"It was so bad ...'' Johnny would moan ...

"How bad was it?'' "The Tonight Show'' studio audience would call-back in unison.

How bad was it?

To sum up the futility of the night: Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry combined to shoot 7-of-25, or 28 percent. To go a little further, Dirk played 23:36 and only had six points. To find the last time Dirk played 20 minutes or more and scored six points or less (something he had only done six times in his career before Thursday night) you'd have to go all the way back to 2003, when Dirk went 3-12 against the Portland Trailblazers for six points in the Jamison/Walker mini-era.

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Given the rarity of this occurrence, do we sweep it under the rug? Do we label it such a rarity as to dismiss its relevancy?

Short answer: Yes. Slightly longer answer: maybe not.

In the context of history, the odds of Dirk's scoring perfomance happening are 7-in-1001, or 0.7 percent. So, if we play the odds this should happen about every 143 games to The Uberman (if we ignore that fact that all previous occurrences took place between 1999 and 2003) it's likely safe to block it away and let it slip from mind.

Yet, in a larger context, the Mavs have now trailed by almost 30 points in three of eight games. We won't ignore the reality of the circumstances around those games, but their mere presence is reason for at least a hint of concern. The season isn't doomed. There is no calculating the outcome of a game in April (and hopefully beyond) based on the data of a game played today … but the kernel of concern has been tucked away.

BUT, STILL …: We'll acknowledge the concern raised here, but must also fall back on the mantra we've expressed since the significance of the changes in the roster, along with the condensed preseason/training camp, were first known. In your best Jason Garrett voice say it with us, "this is a process."

This team has now played exactly seven games and a quarter as a whole (due to players sitting in the two preseason games and Kidd's injury against the Spurs), or three quarters less than the total of last year's preseason.

The urgency brought on by the condensed scheduled is not lost, but this is a team in its infancy. While the nature of some of the losses has been alarming, their presence should have been expected to some degree. This isn't a roster built to win now, but to succeed later … we'll just have to hope "later" isn't defined by the next free agency period.

IS SOMETHING BURNING IN HERE?: The Spurs made five of their first six 3-point attempts, and had drained 11-of-18 by the half, compared to 0-of-11 for the Mavs. To put it another way, at halftime the Spurs were up 33-0 behind the arc.

To put it yet another way, the Mavs were 11-of-38 from the floor for the first half, good for 28.9 percent … meaning the Spurs had as many 3-pointers as Dallas had made field goals.

Compound this with the fact that the Mavs had 11 first-half turnovers to only two from San Antonio, with Dallas committing nine before forcing their first, and you have the recipe for a blowout.

Through the first three quarters Dallas scored 17, 12 and 13 points. That's right, 42 points through 36 minutes of basketball, earned by hitting 16-of-59 shots (27.1%) and 1-of-15 3-pointers (6.7%).

That can't happen again … right?

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QUOTABLE: Rick and Dirk both went with boxing analogies:

"It's a hit-first league," Rick said. "They hit us first, and we never responded.'

Dirk, care to jab away?

"They came out swinging," Dirk said. "And we were reacting instead of acting.''

BRUTAL BUNCHES: This was ugly. It literally caused us to become blind for 12 minutes after the game as our brains refused to allow our eyes to hurl anything else its way (ok, maybe not literally), but it's over. With two other contests passed on the schedule we can't completely dismiss it, though we can remind ourselves that this is a team that has undergone significant changes to its composition and been granted minimal time to try to find how these new pieces are going to interconnect.

This isn't the finished product … we hope. It can't be.

On the horizon there sits the fear that the schedule has yet to unleash its worst, that the age of this team has only caught up to it for the first, not final, time. These fears are real. Until the season has played itself out, we can't discard them as unwarranted … for we don't yet know enough to completely quash them.

That said, we have faith in what Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd (hopefully he's back in action soon), Jason Terry, Shawn Marion and company bring to the table. To write them off at this point dismisses the truth of time, of expanse, for the worries over the minute. We still don't know what this team will become, but don't let this game destroy all hope. There is still time … now, we'll just have to see what the Mavs do with it as a whole, and when it comes crushed together in brutal bunches.

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EXCUSES ARE LIKE NOSES: Make sure it's understood, regarding sixth game in eight nights and second night of a b2b and a missing star due to injury ... That almost describes BOTH teams here. (SA was on its fifth in eight. Close enough.)

THE FINAL WORD: Somebody asked Nowitzki if the post-lockout NBA should have scheduled fewer games in order to simulate the usual pattern of rest in a normal seasong.

"We know this league is about money, so the more games they get, the more money they make," Nowitzki said. "So it's really not about the product that much to them. But it is what it is."

Careful, Dirk. That borders on excuse-making, which is a violation of Carlisle policy and of DB.com policy, too. The plan is in place. It is a winning plan. The gears simply need to turn. ... and squeaky wheels really don't help.

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