Mavs All-Access Donuts: No Pants On Fire
DONUT 1: FOREWARD On the darkest of storm clouds, the searching eye can find that faintest of silver linings, or so goes the saying. There is no silver lining to a turd … which is exactly what theDallas Mavericks left on the court in New Orleans as the season tripped to a new low, losing 97-92 despite the brilliance of Roddy Beaubois.
The Hornets, already with the worst record in the Western Conference, were arguably playing without four of their top five players (Eric Gordon, Emeka Okafor, Carl Landry and Trevor Ariza … not to mention Jason Smith) but turned to the simplest of tools to extend the Mavs losing streak to a season-high four games:
And what did the Mavs answer that hustle with?
"Right now, we're not good enough to coast,'' Dirk Nowitzki said. "I don't care who it is. And that's on me, that's on the team leaders, that's on everybody."
DONUT 2: OMNIPRESENT Regardless of shooting streaks, hot or cold, of the blessings of luck, of the whistles that may or may not fall your way; there is always one trait well within the control of a player or team. Outside of injury, one thing nothing beyond their internal will can impede: hustle. When everything falls apart, outworking an opponent can deny a loss, replacing it with a win.
On Friday night, the Mavs were out-hustled, out-worked, out-desired, out-everything'd by the New Orleans Hornets.
There were careless and costly turnovers, the fact that Dallas was out-rebounded 50-34 overall and 16-to-9 on the offensive glass, as well as a 17-7 advantage on second-chance points for the Hornets. In other words, where "hustle" bleeds into the boxscore, Dallas did not measure up.
As a fan, an observer, as an analyst, losses of this nature are hard to digest.
DONUT 3: TAKE THESE BROKEN WINGS First, accept our apologies for almost quoting a Mr. Mister song. Moving on …
Against the Hornets, Jason Terry hit only one of the nine shots he attempted on his way to two points, making him Dallas's ninth leading scorer. Plus/minus is an entirely unreliable statistic in a single game, but seems to capture an essence of truth here, where Terry was minus-19. To put this in perspective, no other Dallas player was worse than Dominique Jones … at minus-8. Obviously, factors beyond the individual contribute to the plus/minus number tied to the back of one, but it casts an accurate glimpse in this case.
Terry wants the ball in the game's biggest moments. It's a trait that has served him, and Dallas fans, extremely well. It's a significant part of what makes Jet the player he is. After the initial 1:59 of the fourth quarter, Terry was replaced by Roddy Beaubois … to play only 18 additional seconds.
Though his offensive numbers may not completely support this thought (before Friday night), Terry hasn't looked like the player we've come to expect him to be for the duration of this four-game losing streak. Over these four contests, Terry averages: 12 points, 4.3 assists, 2.5 turnovers, 35.2 field-goal percentage, 23.1 3-point percentage.
His performance against the Hornets certainly weighs into these, but the feeling comes not only from numerical measures, but from an uncommon number of fumbled passes (even if only momentary and not resulting in a turnover), poor decisions (whether it be shot selection, ball handling or offensive execution) and a slight shift in either body language or disposition.
Losing streaks magnify fault lines, highlighting the slightest of variations from the norm. Perhaps this is nothing more than memory being tainted though the prism of result … nothing more than a rumbling in the gut.
DONUT 4: SO BRIGHT, EXTENT OF THE SHADOW CONCEALED We've precluded ourselves from pointing out a silver lining. So, we'll call it a … a … burst of light so bright the depth of just how poorly the Mavs played is concealed to some degree.
Roddy Beaubois provided that burst, after getting the start as shooting guard in place of Vince Carter. It's fair to say Terry's play kept him on the bench in the fourth quarter, though you would be remiss to not also attribute the performance of Roddy B.
The numbers: 25 points, 11-of-17 field goals, 2-of-4 3-pointers, four steals, three assists and two rebounds. ... and those crunch-time minutes in place of Mr. Fourth Quarter.
Don't be fooled by the "mere" three assists. When the offense was working, it was doing so based on what Roddy provided it through his consistent aggression, carving out the interior of the Hornets' defense, creating his points and space for teammates to operate. Left exhausted by the end of his 31 minutes, Roddy was a rare bright spot in an otherwise dark loss.
It may have not been enough to capture the win, but what Roddy B left on the court likely morphed a blowout loss into something that allowed hope to breathe until the final moments.
Furthermore, it's one more entry on Roddy B's resume. We urge the Mavs to allow him more entries. To beef it up. Eventually, it might become passable. Or even impressive.
DONUT 5: ODOM VS. THE MAVS it was let-'er-rip time for Rick Carlisle all day Friday as he blasted Lamar Odom on his weekly radio show on KESN-FM and then did it again for the assembled media before the game in New Orleans.
Freed by his organization's dealings with player and agent, Carlisle popped the top of something he's been holding inside for all this week, we bet.
"When he comes back, we're going to find out very quickly where things are at," Carlisle said on his radio program. "He's going to have to show us with his actions and attitude that he's in.''
Carlisle continued: "Mark (Cuban) asks a fundamental question with anybody in our franchise: Are they in or are they not in? Our fans want to know that Lamar's in, our players want to know that Lamar's in. It's not about how many points he's scoring or rebounds. ... Our fans, our players want to see the guy playing like his pants are on fire, and we haven't seen that so far. And that's got to change."
Odom's agent issued a statement trying to make it clear that Lamar's stint is voluntary (as it must be, by league rules) and that it was all Lamar's idea. But the spin from Jeff Schwartz - with whom the Mavs enjoy a nice relationship that they wish to continue as he's Jason Kidd and Deron Williams' guy - was subjected to some reverse spin due to Rick's remarks.
And really, Jeff: Aren't we beyond the face-saving stage now?
A few facts and fact-based opinions:
*The Mavs are not close to cutting Odom. Or to 'Tariqing' him. It's far too early to consider that within the parameters of Asset Management. Now, if we all show up in Frisco on Saturday night and he isn't there with us ...
*The Mavs have put two of the best in the history of basketball on the case. Special assistant Tim Grugrich supervised his workouts late this week. And Del Harris is in charge on Saturday night.
*As DB.com reported earlier this week, LO has lost the support of the leadership in the locker room, which essentially "suspended him off the team''' until he was ready to commit. Shawn Marion said some very supporting things of his buddy on Friday. But the trust has been suspended.
*"When he steps back on the floor in a Mavericks uniform, there is going to be a lot of scrutiny," Carlisle said. "This is not just the expectation, this is the reality: The guy's got to play his ass off."
Rick used that same expression both on his radio show and then in the pregame media session in New Orleans. There is, we are told, a plan for one more speech: Lamar to his teammates, in which he will explain, apologize and commit.
*But ... there may be another bombshell coming. That's what DallasBasketball.com has been told. And if the "explain'' portion of LO's speech includes that bombshell, Odom's Mavs teammates will almost certainly express some level of sympathy.
And then, together, maybe they can ALL start playing their asses off.
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DONUT 7: NOT A CROWD, BUT NOT ALONE: Roddy B was brilliant, but he wasn't the Dallas player worthy of some praise. Vince Carter, Brandan Wright and Dominique Jones were among the few who appeared willing to match the energy level of the opponent.
Carter was instrumental to an 11-0 Dallas run in the second quarter that put the Mavs up by one, ever so briefly. He moved to the bench, as Roddy started at shooting guard, but once more proved the ability and willingness to adapt to any role asked of him. He finished with 14 points, four rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block.
Wright scored nine points, making all four of his shot attempts in 14:20 of action and brought something too many of his teammates seemed to lack: energy.
Jones played 16:47, scored five points to go with three assists, five rebounds, a steal and a block. At times, he was tenacious on defense and seemed to earn each additional minute with his play in the prior. He continues to show a knack for creating and/or finding passing lanes.
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DONUT 9: MAVSELLANOUS Chris Kaman finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Over the four-game losing streak opposing centers have averaged 24.8 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 57.1 percent. Not pretty numbers … Kaman had 13 points in the first quarter. In 16 of the 27 games he had played previous to Friday night, he scored 12 or less points … Xavier Henry finished with a career-high 19 points, needing only 12 shots to get there … Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry combined to hit 8-of-28 shot attempts, "good" for 28.6 percent … Dallas took only 10 free-throw attempts, only one above their season low of nine; not a surprise when 29 shots come from behind the arc and hustle was not found in abundance … Dirk didn't shoot a FT ... Rick ripped him on 103.3 with GAC and ripped him again in that pregame, but Rick, you do know the "saga'' isn't over, right? ... On Jarrett Jack's game-winning midranger, how close was Roddy B to blocking that thing? ... Should we wonder if the lower-back issues that knocked Dirk out of the previous game and threatened to keep Brendan Haywood out of this one played a factor, or does that feel too much like an excuse?
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DONUT 11: THE NBA HIGHLIGHT REEL They look kinda like the Mavs-Nets NBA Highlight Reel, unfortunately.
DONUT 12: THE FRAGILITY OF CHEMISTRY Chemistry is fragile. In this moment when it seems to have fluttered away, the game can seem to scrape against the collective. The flow isn't a stream, but a coarse trek where dominoes fall, but somehow manage to only lean against the next in line, or miss their mark entirely.
When Caron Butler was not dealt at the trade deadline a year ago, we openly wondered if the lack of a move was the best move possible. That team was a model of where chemistry can lead. We couldn't know the final outcome at that time, but we could sense that the collective was special. We didn't know how special, but we knew enough to embrace of the idea of keeping it whole.
It takes only one domino to end the perfect cascade, only one working against the whole. In this moment, a domino has fallen astray. Has it slipped to the wayside, leaving the momentum both broken and impossibly lost … or does the trigger domino wait, leaning at the back of the next, waiting for that simple unknown to nudge it onward?
"We'll find out really what we're made of," coach Rick Carlisle said. "This is one of those times. We've got to stick together and we've got to fight."
DONUT 13: THE FINAL WORD There's little denying that this is the low point of this season thus far.
A brutal stretch of nine games in 12 nights is a desolate place to search for gifts of the schedule. Getting the team with the worst record in the Western Conference, playing without five rotation-players, after a one-day respite should have been just that. But, a gift is merely an ornament until it's unwrapped … nothing more than a useless piece of furniture.
Dallas failed to take advantage of an opportunity, and now for the fourth game in five nights head home to take on a Utah team that will also be playing on the tail end of a back-to-back (though theirs began with a one-point win over the Miami Heat) and a simple decision must be made.
"We're just not getting it done right now,'' Dirk said. "So, we've got to dig deep and hopefully have our crowd carry us tomorrow. ... I don't care how ugly it gets. We've got to grind one out.''
So that decision: Dig out. Or did down. Pick up a shovel and dig this new low a bit deeper, sit idle and allow the Jazz to do the digging for you … or put the effort forth to do everything possible to begin an arduous climb.