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What the heck was that?
The Mavericks were on their first two-game win streak in nearly a calendar year (a baffling prospect when you think of it) and seemingly had their first taste of momentum of any kind this year heading into last night’s contest against a depleted Brooklyn team at home. It’s a game that even the most ardent members of #TeamTank figured Dallas should win and there wouldn’t be much complaining regardless.
Nope. The Mavericks put forth their laziest effort of the year in a 109-104 defeat and terms like “ass-kicking” and “phony lead” were among the nicer things Rick Carlisle said in the post-game presser when asked about his team’s effort. Dallas jetted out to a 14-7 lead behind Maxi Kleber’s early hot shooting, but the Nets rebounded and turned the pace of their game to their favor, Carlisle said.
“I didn’t have these guys ready to play,” he said. “I’m not happy about it, I don’t think our players are happy about it. What do you want me to say? We stunk. We stunk offensively. We didn’t have the wherewithal to stay with it and make a stand defensively.”
Trevor Booker (16 points, 9 rebounds) single-handedly ended Dallas’ chance of a late-game comeback after two missed free throws by Spencer Dinwiddie with the Nets leading, 107-104, with 10 seconds remaining. Brooklyn had eight offensive rebounds in the final quarter. Dallas had seven the whole game.
What’s troubling to me is it felt like Dallas committed about 10 “and-1s” during the course of the game. I pored back through ESPN’s play-by-play and could only find four (with Dirk being accountable for one), but the ones I did see were troubling. A lot of the fouls committed by Dallas that resulted in the Nets capitalizing for one more at the line were lazy fouls, results of Dallas being hilariously out of position or Dirk Nowitzki just being bad on defense.
Carlisle took full blame for not having the right bodies in at the end to pull down the critical rebound, but literally no one on Dallas showed the urgency to win down the stretch, a troubling sign to say the least.
Even fans watching who would almost literally like Dallas to go 5-77 were frustrated with Dennis Smith Jr. not being in the game late. As it turns out, Smith was fighting off some kind of illness on Wednesday night which may have been the reason for his absence but it’s not like Smith would’ve made a difference on the board amidst all the trees at the end, right?
Well, the rookie disagreed after the game when asked if he could’ve gotten the golden rebound that got away.
“I can do whatever you need me to do,” he said. “I’ve got to stay positive.”
Positivity was something this game didn’t feature a whole lot of. Even Maxi Kleber’s astounding effort (16 points, 7 boards) had a big ol’ bucket of ice water dumped on it by Carlisle after the game.
“I know you’re asking me about him because he had a lot of points,” Carlisle said. “He shot well, especially in the first half. But the fouls derailed him and I think he was a minus at the end. Minuses get you beat.”
Kleber finished with five fouls and was a minus-1. Devin Harris fouled out. Smith was a -10. Dirk was somehow a +8. It was a weird and wild game and really nothing about the last three quarters was pretty for the Mavericks, well, unless you count this:
— Bryan Gutierrez (@BallinWithBryan) November 30, 2017
Even that resorted in no points as Yogi Ferrell missed a three at the end of the play. It was that kind of night for Dallas and with another injury-depleted team heading into town this weekend in the Clippers, you have to hope the Mavericks, tanking or not, can put forth a better effort. For everyone’s sake.
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