12 Mavs Issues: We Play 'Fish Or Cut Bait'

You know the game: A statement is made. It's taken as gospel ... except in the world of 'Fish Or Cut Bait,' where we cut through the platitudes and assumptions for real answers. 'Fish Or Cut Bait' handles 12 key issues in Mavs Donuts!

DONUT 1: So it's Dirk's fault? Seriously? ...

No, I didn't say it quite that boldly in my data-based breakdown of what breaks down when the Mavs lose games in which they held 17-point leads. I simply found the common thread:

Dirk missing almost all of his game-closing shots.

FISH: you cannot "cut-bait'' on this concept. Not once you've seen the evidence. I know it seems like blasphemy. But the Dallas Mavericks' four 17-points-lead-or-greater collapses are the "fault'' of Nowitzki in the sense that he is asked to carry a certain burden ... and he either succeeds (often) or fails (these four times).
On November 29 in Atlanta, the Mavs had a 17-points-or-more lead and lost 88-87. Dirk shot 6-of-13 for 16 points in the game ... and shot 0-of-3 to close.

On December 20, in a 109-108 OT loss at Toronto, Dallas lost a 19-point lead. Dirk shot 10-of-22 for 22 points. But ... In the fourth quarter he made one of five shots. And in the OT, he shot 0-of-3.

On January 3 in what would become a Clippers' 119-112 win at the AAC, Dirk was 10-of-17 for 24 points. But in Dirk's final three shots he made one of them.

And now, on Wednesday, in a 129-127 loss at the Clippers: Dirk scored 27 points, while doing it on an inefficient 8-of-22 shooting. With the 17-point lead shrinking ... Dirk shoots 0-of-4 down the stretch.

If this team's No. 1 concern right now is to diagnose whether there is a consistent thread that runs through a disturbing quartet of implosive losses ... the fact that in these four games Dirk Nowitzki has closed the action by shooting a combined 2-of-18 is your thread.

DONUT 2: Center Matters ...

Carlisle on starting Sam Dalembert in Monday's win over Orlando: "We started him because it's the best thing for our team. The last three or four games I like what he's done. His focus has been good. It's evident what he brings to the team. It's good.''

But ...

"There are a lot of different lineups we can use ... Sam's important. Blair's important. Wright's important. Sarge [Bernard James] has stepped in in important games and given us good minutes, too. That's a committee position. Who starts isn't really that big of a deal, probably, in reality, but those guys have got to hold the fort collectively."
CUT BAIT: Dallas is 17-9 when Dalembert starts -- and that "9'' includes Wednesday, when he was good for 20 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes at L.A. This has become so self-evident I don't even understand why it's debated -- outside the organization or inside the organization.

DONUT 4: So busy! ...

Hey, Fish, with The 75-Member Staff being everywhere at all times, you guys cannot possibly carve out time for a weekly Mavs Podcast, can you?

CUT BAIT: Nonsense!

The DB.com Mavs Podcast (all of them collected here on iTunes) is up and running below as well ... with a very special cast of characters:

Mike Fisher, Kevin Turner and Mike Marshall talk about all things Mavs along with some regrettable toilet humor.

Pull up a chair to the hoops roundtable and let's kick it around ...

The DallasBasketball.com Mavs Podcast, y'all!

DONUT 5: Devin as 'savior' ...

Guard Devin Harris' return to health following offseason toe surgery has been an arduous process. But this week he is engaging in his first full practice with the team and now may be returning to the court in the coming days.

"Devin is doing good,'' Rick said on Tuesday. "He's getting better and better, and he's on the right path. ... He's done everything that he's supposed to and he's getting to where he needs to get. So we're getting closer and closer, but it won't happen this week.''

Harris is not playing on this two-game roadie (which ends tonight in Phoenix -- oh, and I'll be a part of the FOX Sports Southwest telecast team that brings you the game starting at 7:30). He also is not scheduled to play when the Mavs host Portland on Saturday, though he plans to address the media that day.
But when he comes back ... he fixes everything?

FISH: A "savior''? Nah. A fix to so many of the things that ail Dallas? Yup.

Don't like the minutes burden on Monta? Worried that Mekel's knee might be problematic? Don't like these rookie PGs getting important minutes? Don't like Ellis having to do so much ball-handling? Don't like having nobody on the roster besides Marion who can play perimeter defense? Don't like Vince getting so many crunch-time go-throughs?

Devin isn't a "savior.'' But he's a "solver.''

DONUT 6: What's a 'Zinger'? ...

"He got hit,'' Carlisle said of Dirk's injury in the Orlando game. "I think he got elbowed on the forearm and it may have hit a nerve. He may have had a zinger.''

CUT BAIT: What'a a "zinger''? The basketball equivalent of a football "stinger''?
DONUT 7: 'Tanking? What's 'tanking'? ...

"Oh, gosh no. We would never lose games on purpose. That goes against everything we stand for as sportsmen.'' -- Pretty much every GM of every losing team in the NBA.

CUT BAIT: Last time I counted was as of Tuesday morning, when the bottom seven clubs in the East -- the easiest place in the world to win an NBA game -- were on a combined 32-game losing streak.

DONUT 8: Wouldn't Bynum help? ...

Hey, remember what he used to do with the Lakers? Hey, he's only 26! Hey, have you seen that YouTube video of his double-double with Cleveland?

CUT BAIT: Hey, he doesn't like playing basketball! Hey, YouTube does a poor job measuring locker-room toxicity! Hey, if you study his advanced stats like we at DB.com have done you see ...

*His rebound percentage is 14.1 - killled by Blair (18.5), Sam (17.6) and James (17.0).

*His defensive rating is 104.8 - WORSE than Blair's and Dalembert's.

*His offensive rating is 93.0 -- FAR WORSE than anyone on Dallas' current roster.

The Mavs braintrust has met recently on the subject and come to a conclusion. If that changes, I'll let you know.

And if that changes, I will express fury at the foolishness of it.

DONUT 9: Roddy B is dead-'n'-gone ...
Out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Roddy Beaubois -- the "superstar''-turned-washout -- is gone. Playing soccer in France, maybe.

CUT BAIT: Nope. Roddy B remains in Dallas; the DB.com staff caught up with him the other day as he's regained his health and planning a comeback.

No, not a comeback with the Mavs.

I've got the full Roddy B update here, along with a spirited DB.com Boards debate.

DONUT 10: Transparency is good, but ...

"I love the transparency,'' Mark Cuban said in the wake of the NBA admitting officiating errors in the final seconds of two Mavs wins. "Now if I can just get them to do the same level of transparency for the other 47 minutes, 55 seconds, we'll really be making progress.''

CUT BAIT: Hey, I'm all for "progress.'' But here? Nah. I'm good. Allow me to explain in my column on the "human element'' of NBA officiating.

And do note this from the Clippers loss: Dirk and Marion were both victimized by late phantom calls. As of this morning I hadn't seen the official NBA apology.

Because these are judgment calls. And trusting the judgment of the traffic cops is simply part of driving down the street. So I don't need a meaningless "apology.''
DONUT 11: What's the point of P.J.? ...

If P.J. Hairston can't ever be called up by the Mavs from Frisco, what's the point of even bothering to add him to the D-League roster?

CUT BAIT: As I detail here, the point of P.J. Hairston in the organization) is that the organization gets an intensely close-up look at a primo draft prospect. That's not necessarily why the Texas Legends signed the suspended North Carolina star. But it's an at least small benefit.

Think of it this way: Would you like to be able to host the top 30 prospects in the NBA Draft in Frisco for a few months, get to know them, get inside of their heads and inside of their games?

Well, you can't do that with 30 prospects. You usually can't do it with any prospects.

But you get to do it with P.J. Hairston. ... and we will see him Saturday night in Frisco. R.J. Choppy and I will have the telecast at 7 on Channel 47 and you can get your Legends tickets to come hang out with us here.

DONUT 12: The Final Word ...

Carlisle, on recording that Orlando win as a way of launching into this three-game stretch against Western Conference contenders:

"We need wins. ... We've got a lot of big games coming up."

FISH: Yes. Big games. Need wins. And with the Clippers game slipping through this team's fingers like so many outcomes have before ... definitely "Fish'' on that one.

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