"If we come out (Sunday afternoon at Brooklyn) like we did the other night (in Friday's shellacking at Philly), we'll get our ass kicked again,'' Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle predicted. "That's pretty clear."
I suppose the Mavs as a team (as opposed to “as a franchise,’’ and please understand the difference between the two) get credit for not following up the blowout embarrassment against the lowly Sixers with yet another humiliation at the hands of the even-more-lowly Nets. Dallas' 111-104 matinee victory against the worst team in the NBA allows the fellas to show their face in league circles without having to hide or blush.
On the other hand, when you beat the Nets, you don't get to strut about like the cock of the walk, either. And I'll continue to argue, as I did in Sunday Mavs Donuts, that the Mavs are likely to regret the ping-pong balls lost in a game like this far more than they will celebrate the fine work of prideful 38-year-old Dirk Nowitzki or the scrappy work of undrafted rookie Dorian Finney-Smith or the two-way prowess of Harrison Barnes.
OK, but I must say: As has been the case for most of this season, even with its occasional "fun'' moments (topped by Dirk's 30K extravaganza), as a media member and as a fan, I find myself covering/watching two events unfold simultaneously:
One is the game, the 48 minutes of struggle and strife and, on 39 of 69 game days, the 48 minutes of “L.’’
Two is the Big Picture, which includes the organization’s admitted development of young talent (We’re rebuilding on the fly!’’ owner Mark Cuban says, cock-of-the-walk strutting a bit prematurely) and the organization’s willingness or unwillingness to accept a little embarrassment, a little humiliation, in exchange for a potential pot of draft-day gold at the end of the rainbow …
Which comes at the end of the rainstorm that simply must be endured.
Do the Mavs continue to delay getting drenched by that rainstorm by valiantly hoisting up makeshift umbrellas? Again, I suppose so … and I hope Finney-Smith (with a game-sealing rejection late) and Yogi Ferrell and some of this nice young complementary finds don’t mind being compared to “makeshift umbrellas.’’ The point of my Sunday morning column (click here) is that in Phoenix, Tyson Chandler is volunteering to sit so the Suns kids can gain experience … while the Suns continue to sink in the standings. Maybe Dallas can joust back by saying that the Phoenix seasoning being gained is similar to the seasoning being gained by the Mavs kids who aren’t playing in place of Dirk but rather alongside him — and hey, maybe being an on-court teammate of The UberMan is the best experience of all!
But even if that’s the case, Dallas is only accomplishing half of what Phoenix is accomplishing, as the Suns are primed to get the third-most ping-pong balls and the Mavs the 11th-most.
The Mavericks are better than Brooklyn. We did learn that here. They led from start to finish, with a 15-4 early edge, an 18-point lead forged in the middle, and with defense to hold on late when the Nets pulled to within one.
Yeah, so with five minutes left in this game, Dallas was one point better than the NBA’s crappiest team.
One point. One point ... separating “proud’’ from “embarrassed’’?
Listen, Dirk is Dirk. He scored 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting and all grabbed nine rebounds. I want what’s best for him so next year, when he puts up a 23/9, he does it on a team that might win 50, not on a team that might win 35.
I want the same for Barnes, who finished here with 19 points and six rebounds and constitutes more than just a makeshift umbrella; he’s a foundational find. And for Wesley Matthews, who is battling the calf injury — and has every reason to hear management instruct him to shut it down - but scored 15 here, backed by backcourt backups JJ Barea with a clutch 20 and Devin Harris with 11. (Oh, and vote for any one of the fellas for "The Dirkie'' here!)
As I have always said about out concept of “Organic Tanking,’’ it is launched when non-winning things “just happen.’’ You would think, looking forward, that would be the case when the 30-39 Mavericks play host on Tuesday to the Golden State Warriors.
Boy, though, it’d be “fun’’ to see the Mavs beat the Warriors. No question.
But was it “fun’’ to see them “not get their ass kicked’’ by the Nets? OK, I admit, the Dirk numbers, the Barnes spin-cycle and the DFS block were enjoyable.
But beyond “fun,’’ how much of it will prove beneficial?