DALLAS - There is a 'Just-the-Facts, Ma'am' way to approach the Mavs' OT loss to the Cavs on Tuesday. But this one merits digging deeper. Mavs Donuts:
DONUT 1: Cavs 110, Mavs 107 in OT
You want "just the facts, ma'am''? Dallas failed to move a season-high seven games over .500 on Tuesday night with a 110-107 overtime loss to Cleveland, a contest in which the Cavaliers tied Dallas for the most 3-point attempts this season (44) and made 17 of them. The loss puts the Mavericks at 22-17, but they still remain in fifth place in the West due to Memphis' loss to Houston.
“I thought it was a great game,'' Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "I am not mad; I am disappointed that we didn’t make a couple of plays on both ends. We had some really good opportunities on offense and defensively we just couldn’t hold our ground enough. We couldn’t keep James out of the lane a couple of times when we had to and it’s hard to overcome 17 made threes. That is an awful lot and yet we were right there and the guys battled the whole way. We had some really good performances, and some gutty performances, but now we have a plane to catch.”
The plane headed to OKC, where the Mavs Monster Mash marches on ... and yeah, there is your just-the-facts/not-mad quickie review.
Now let's get a little more impassioned as Zack Cunningham and I make the Donuts ...
DONUT 2: Streak Broken, Part I
Dallas had been 20-0 this season when leading after three quarters. ... a number that reinforces this team's ability in the clutch.
In Tuesday's contest, Cleveland took its first lead in the fourth quarter and the teams swapped the advantage back and forth nine times in the first six minutes. The Mavericks had plenty of opportunities to seal the game late, in regulation and beyond.
A great example: Score tied at 95-all. Mavs with the final possession. Dirk working for position ...
“It’s tough, but we had enough chances,'' Dirk said. "I had the last iso to win, and it got knocked out of my hands. So, you’ve got to give them credit. They got the win.”
DONUT 3: Streak Broken, Part II
The Cleveland credit goes to LeBron James (27 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists), of course, and to his partner who came up big down the stretch, Kyrie Irving, with his game-sealing 3-pointer that came as a result of LeBron fullbacking his team's way to room ...
You watch it again and again and you wonder if LeBron fouled D-Will, you wonder how many pivot feet James is allowed ... and then you join Dirk in giving credit to Cleveland for hitting a preposterously long-range bomb to win it.
And so ... gone is Dallas' nine-game overtime winning streak. The all-time NBA record for consecutive overtime wins is 13, and the Mavericks won't be thinking about matching it any time soon. In fact, maybe they'll be thinking about strategic decisions here in OT that didn't go their way.
DONUT 4: For Instance
In OT, Dirk got the bulk of the playing time at center (after JaVale McGeee jumped center) as Carlisle opted for SmallBall. It ... um, didn't work.
Said Rick: “We had McGee jump and he was in there for a minute or a minute-and-a-half. We just wanted to get the match-ups better and get Dirk off of a perimeter guy but that was not the reason we lost the game.''
Well, it wasn't "the'' reason, no.
Said LeBron: “The depth that we have, we have the opportunity to do a lot of things with our lineups. Coach (Blatt) went to it and it worked out for us.”
And then one other OT assignment to be reconsidered: Who was Wesley Matthews guarding? We don't think he much drew the LeBron assignment. We don't think he much drew the Kyrie assignment. We don't think we understand why not.
DONUT 5: LeBron's Powerful Help
We can drool over LeBron's game all we want about this and, yes, it's true that his court vision is unparalleled in the NBA today, especially in tandem with the sort of power he demonstrated on a key late-game dunk ...
... we must note how much his vision and power allows other, lesser mates to look like powerful helpers, too. Matthew Dellavedova was clutch for the Cavs, for example. Cleveland was +21 with the scrappy Australian on the court and his four 3-pointers were huge. During a key stretch in the second half, Delly sank a trey, immediately stole the ball and then received a pass for another trey to give Cleveland six points in a matter of seconds.
DONUT 6: Get Caught Up!
DONUT 7: Mavs Quoteboard
“It’s a tough loss,” Chandler Parsons said. "They’re a very good team. And going into this stretch of games that we have, we’re playing some of the best teams in the league, so this would have been a huge win for us. But we competed, and we played till the end.”
DONUT 8: CP Progress
Even in the loss, we think the Chandler Parsons' outlook is getting much, much better for Dallas. He set a new season high in points (25) in the loss and also finished with eight rebounds. He's shooting 47.8 percent from the field in January ... though only 26.9 percent from deep and a baffling 55.6 percent from the stripe this month. Those numbers figure to go up as the season progresses, but Tuesday matched the second straight game of better than 70 percent shooting from the field and third in four contests of better than 50 percent.
CP also took on the challenge of checking LeBron James at times, and conceded he wished he'd done a better job of keeping James out of the lane. Maybe it's a lesson to be applied to tonight in OKC?
"We can’t hang our heads,'' Parsons said. "We’ve got the same type of monster (tonight) in OKC, dealing with similar personnel with (Russell) Westbrook and (Kevin) Durant. It’s not going to get easier going forward, so we’ve got to lock in and get back at it.”
DONUT 9: Shot Distribution
Tuesday also matched Parsons' third-most shot attempts of the season (he finished 10-of-14). That number has only been topped twice (8-of-15 on Dec. 26 vs. Chicago and 9-of-16 in a Jan. 6 win at New Orleans in which he was the only normal starter in the starting lineup). All this to say, Parsons' presence is being felt more and more by Dallas as January wears as ... so his "my-season-starts-in-January" proclamation is looking more and more true.
Meanwhile, JaVale McGee is starting to get it. ... and "it'' means he's finding his touch as a scorer in addition to being Dallas' only rim protector.
He's 21-of-30 from the field in the last five games for Dallas and is averaging nine points and just over four boards in that span. Not bad for a guy who was brought in on basically a pay-as-you-go type of contract. While he still makes some silly plays (see the offensive goaltending on Devin Harris' first-half shot attempt on Tuesday), McGee has been a valuable contributor of late in spelling Pachulia, who has also been a machine for Dallas this season.
DONUT 10: Mavsellansous
The underappreciated key to the Cavs success here: They had only nine turnovers in 53 minutes. ... Even in defeat, Dallas' 3-point shooting continues to steadily improve after a rough start to the year. The 39.3-percent mark on Tuesday was the Mavericks' 12th-best performance from deep this season and their seventh game in the last 12 contests of 37 percent or better. ... Zaza Pachulia had his 20th double-double this season and and the 100th in his career. ... Nowitzki became the 14th NBA player to reach 46,000 career minutes, logging 38 here -- which of course leads to the Minutes Limits watch for tonight. Stay tuned. ... No, the Mavs did NOT give a tryout to Baron Davis. We've got the details of what actually happened here in DB.com Premium Boards.
DONUT 11: Middle of Pack
Dallas has been a middle-of-the-pack defensive team this year, ranking 16th in points allowed per game and their defensive effort on Tuesday, for the most part, looked better than that.
Late lane penetrations by LeBron and giving up 17 3-pointers did the Mavericks in. They are allowing teams to shoot 38.6 percent from 20-24 feet from the basket (per NBA.com), a mark that is eighth-worst in league. On the other end of that, Dallas is allowing opposing teams to shoot 60.5 percent from less than five feet from the basket, tied for fifth-worst in the league with Minnesota.
Those are things that need to change as the Mavericks face maybe their toughest three game road trip of the year with the Thunder tonight and then dates against the Bulls and red-hot San Antonio. Wes can provide the perimeter D. Rim protection? Even including the aforementioned McGee, not a Dallas strength.
DONUT 12: The Final Word
“I know (in Dirk and LeBron) you are looking at two of the greatest ever and both are still playing at an extremely high level. I appreciate all of that stuff. That is not ever lost on me. I am just disappointed that we couldn’t get over the hump. It would have been a great win for us but there is not much time to lick our wounds, we have to get on a plane and go to Oklahoma City.” -- Rick Carlisle.