Monday Morning Mavs Donuts
DONUT 1: THE BLAME GAME ...
Why is it the first place we look to blame is somewhere beyond the parameters of our own mirrors?
The Mavs aren't unique here. I guess it's human nature to insta-analyze a failure by detailing all that was done to you instead of all that was done by you.
"We fought,'' Dirk said. "You have to give them credit. They made some great plays. They got some lucky bounces especially in overtime. We had our chances I thought in the end of regulation. Sometimes it just doesn't happen your way."
That's a fair overview of Lakers 112, Mavs 108, Sunday's OT loss that fails to allow any playoff-race breathing room for the Mavs and also fails to give Dallas a psychological boost if and when these two teams face off in Round 1 of the playoffs. But we've just got to insert the "lucky bounces'' note in there, don't we?
Personally, I wonder if Dallas ran too many Dirk iso's, if the Mavs need to re-think their policy on not doubling-down on dominant centers (and Bynum is now that), if the Lakers' chess move of Metta-on-Delonte was a curveball Dallas see coming, and if Jason Terry overthought his drive to the rim for the tying layup with five seconds remaining ... that he missed.
But before we get to all that ...
DONUT 2: 'LUCKY BOUNCES' ...
Pau Gasol made two three-pointers in this one, despite only making five all year coming into this one. It's worth noting that his final attempt from downtown looked like it was interfered with by Matt Barnes and Mark Cuban has already tweeted that he's asked the league to look into the matter.
"Yes, Mavs fans,'' Cuban says. "I have already asked the NBA to make basket interference reviewable in the last 2 minutes.''
Adds coach Rick Carlisle: "It was a goaltend that was missed. And we had a one-point lead at that time, so it's a big play. ... They'll see that in black and white in New York."
Moments earlier, it appeared that a key Barnes offensive rebound was gathered while he was standing out of bounds. As with the in-the-cylinder issue ... nothing.
Let's have a look at those "lucky'' 3's and those "lucky'' non-calls:
DONUT 3: OK, JET TAKES THE BLAME ...
"I saw a clear lane to the basket,'' Jet said. "There was some misfortune there not going strong enough to the basket. (Defender) Barnes did an excellent job of getting out of the way. I thought he was going to try to take a charge or go for a hard foul and he did neither. Give him credit and I'll take the blame for that one."
DONUT 4: AND THEN JET TURNS THE PAGE ...
"We need to maintain our level of play right now and get into the playoffs as the sixth seed,'' Terry said. "Consistently we're coming out and giving a great effort. We're fighting on both ends of the floor. (This) was a big disappointment but you have to get over it quick because we've got Utah (Monday)."
Fair enough. Let's turn the page.
DONUT 5: YOU CANNOT FOOL THE UBERMAN ...
Maybe you can fool yourself by noting that Dirk Nowitzki paced the Dallas Mavericks with a game-high 24 points and 14 rebounds.
But you cannot fool The UberMan.
"I've just got to make some shots,'' said Dirk, who shot 9-of-28. "I was more of a volume shooter and that's not how I want to play. I want to be an efficient scorer, so I got some work to do. The good thing is before the playoffs we only have one game and we have four days off where I can work on my game and hopefully be right when the playoffs start."
DONUT 6: UNDERNEATH DALLAS' LEAD ...
The Mavs started fast, led by six after three, and pushed it to OT. And yet, a Lakers team playing without Kobe (and happily, without Odom showing up to bask in embarrassment) really did own that game in so many phases.
LA had a 50-32 points-in-the-paint edge. Big Wood held Bynum down early (and himself had a nine-point, five-rebound and two-block showing) but Bynum and Gasol were rather dominant overall. Ron-Ron was a horse, and he even guarded Delonte. Barnes made tons of little-big plays. And nobody quite guarded Sessions.
Dirk's not the only one who has some work that needs to be done.
DONUT 7: ANOTHER BRAND OF FATIGUE ...
For the third time in the last five games, Dirk Nowitzki converted less than 33 percent of his shot attempts … and seemed to show a clear hesitancy towards attacking the interior of the Lakers defense. Undoubtedly Los Angeles's length played a role in this, with Andrew Bynum generally lingering around the rim somewhere. Yet, he allowed that presence to too significantly alter his game, passing up chances that should have been there, or it was something else.
The resurgence of Jason Kidd's shooting touch may clue us in to another cause. Since the dawn of this season, when Dirk struggled to shrug off limitations brought about by the deviations to his season preparations due to the lockout, it wasn't until he found rest that his body caught up with his mind.
Now, as we've witnessed a wholly foreign series of critical slips in the form of a few errant passes in closing moments and a few very poor-shooting nights, we're forced to wonder if another form of fatigue has manifested itself?
From all that's taken place, from Lamar Odom to the pains of the scheduled to everything in between, would it be too far fetched to believe their may be an abnormal level of fatigue … both mental and physical.
Don't misread this as doubt in Nowitzki, of which we have none, but we won't deny that we smile when seeing that Dallas plays only one game over the final five days of the season.
Sweet, sweet rest … they just have to make sure their season doesn't end before the advantages of that rest may be reaped.
Oh, one more thing about days off: Maybe they can help Delonte's finger start looking a tad healthier than it looks in this photo:
DONUT 8: SO IT'LL BE MAVS-LAKERS IN THE PLAYOFFS, RIGHT? ...
I hate that presumption and I hate that thinking. It feeds the idea that some team oughta manipulate the system, manipulate the outcome ... and it ends up serving as good inspiration for an opponent and bad karma for the perpetrator.
So, does Dallas now seems more likely than ever to face the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs?
"We're going day-to-day here and we're trying to earn our way in to the playoffs,'' Carlisle says. "We'll worry about matchups later.''
Yeah, later. Like, 66-games-in later.
The "Who-can-they-beat'' Game? The answer is nobody if they miss layups with five seconds left and then forget to intentially foul with 3.5 seconds left. Do those things, they beat nobody.
DONUT 9: HOPE IT DOESN'T MATTER, BUT ...
Dallas is now 10-11 in games decided by five points or less this season. They were 17-11 in these games a season ago.
DONUT 10: THE DEEPEST MAVS COVERAGE ANYWHERE! ...
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DONUT 11: COMING UP ...
Poke around DB.com right now and in the coming hours and be heads-up for ... Carlisle on "Making Work Out of Sex.'' ... A Premium breakdown, with never-before-analyzed numbers, on why Shawn Marion should be a Defensive Player of the Year finalist ... What Makes Brandan Wright tick? ... NBA scout Kyle Leath's Advance Scouting Report on tonight's Mavs-at-Utah game ... And me joining Ortegel, Harper and Followill tonight on FSSouthwest at 7:30 for the pregame show leading up to the game!
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD ...
''This team eliminated us last year, and they're the champs right now,'' says Paul Gasol of the Mavs. ''If we face them again, I don't know if this 4-0 in the regular season will be worth a whole lot. We'll have to start over and make sure we play as hard as we've been playing lately.''
I always liked that Gasol character.