On Thursday morning, in preparation for Dallas Mavericks at Miami Heat, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle issued a drop-the-mic reality about where the two teams -- who six years ago battled in the NBA Finals -- are today.
"It's not exactly 2011,'' Rick deadpanned.
No, it's not. Dallas was really proud of having won three straight going into this game, to pull its still-dismal record up to 14-27. Miami, with a final result here of 99-95, gets to be really proud of having won two straight to 13-30.
"Like an old-school Miami-Dallas game," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra joked, and yeah, everybody's a comedian.
The Mavs are now 14-28, just three games out of the eighth spot in the West but also among the six teams rotting down in the NBA basement. This result might be enough to cause owner Mark Cuban, who admits to "going back and forth'' on the idea of being bad with a purpose (the NBA lottery) to "go forth'' toward that goal -- and I say that even while acknowledging that Carlisle's guys played hard, and even played well.
Which is what "Organic Tanking'' is.
The Heat is in a similar situation, and is already willing to listen to trade offers for guys Goran Dragic (32 points on 11-for-15 shooting, including 22 points in the second half when Miami pulled away) and Hassan Whiteside (13 points and eight rebounds). The Mavs, by the way, loved Hassan in the summer but now, not so much; here's the DB.com exclusive on how Dallas values its prospective 2017 pick more than it values Whiteside.
“Our job on Whiteside was good, considering we’re playing smaller,” said Carlisle, who again used Dirk Nowitzki (19 points and four rebounds) at center. "(But] the story of the game is the second half. They dominated the second half.”
There was another "story of the game'' ... something symbolic for all involved ...
Anyway, that second-half domination? Tyler Johnson was a big part of that. He scored in double-figures for the 14th straight game, here giving Miami 23 points -- five of those in the final 1:41 that kept Dallas at bay.
Maybe this outcome is different if Dallas closes better, but the Heat outscored the Mavericks 55-42 after halftime. Dallas was 1-of-8 from the field during a too-long period the fourth quarter.
"It was a really tough stretch for us," Nowitzki said. "We went from being up a couple to down seven or eight and then we put the starters back in (including Wesley Matthews with 18 and Harrison Barnes and Seth Curry with 15 apiece) for the other unit, so that was a bad stretch ... and after that we had to play catch-up. ... We should've found a way to win.''
The chase continues tonight as the Mavs play host the Utah Jazz (GameThread here). A number that reminds you this isn't exactly 2011? This season Dallas is 0-7 on the second night of back-to-backs.null