Photo from AP Photo/Morry Gash via ESPN.
“There is no greater sorrow than to be mindful of the happy time in misery.”
Well, that sucked. The Mavs could do no right in their 133-99 humbling by the shooting hand of the Milwaukee Bucks, an outing in which the Mavs’ offense came up as lame as its defense. If you name a classic defensive blunder, it’s likely that the Mavs committed it in this one; the gambles were fruitless, the close-outs on shooters were awful, and the rotations were either sloppy or nonexistent. Milwaukee simply ran a relay race last night, with the baton passing from Ramon Sessions (perfect 7-7 from the field) to Richard Jefferson (near triple-double) to Charlie Villanueva (32 and 10) to Michael Redd (27 points on 16 shots). Not only could the Mavs not keep pace overall, but were virtually beaten at every position. This game is certainly Exhibit A1 in the case against the Mavs’ defense.
But the Mavs’ complete failure to do anything that could be classified as defense was exaggerated by their equally inept effort on the offensive end. Shot after shot rimmed out, and layup after layup met iron or the open palm of an anxious Bucks’ defender. Dallas finished with a 36.6% mark on the night, with the normally reliable Jason Terry being the primary culprit at 3-13. This team only goes as far as Terry and Nowitzki allow it to go, and if both aren’t clicking at the right times, the Mavs typically lose. It’s a simple formula that’s only hedged by an outrageous game from Jason Kidd or a night where Howard throws the team on his back for stretches. Dallas’ shots just weren’t falling, and despite an impressive march to the foul line (39 attempts, 17.5 more than their season average), nobody on this side of Dirk could meaningfully affect the scoreboard in an efficient manner.
Don’t even get me started on Erick Dampier’s no-show against a team he was supposed to dominate.
Josh Howard’s play on the offensive end (for the first half, at least) was one of the few bright spots we can take away from this disaster. He didn’t settle for the typical crossover/pull-up jumper combo on the isolation, and it really showed when Howard erupted for 16 early. That said, he faded fast, scoring just 3 in the second half. It’s worth noting that Dirk put up 30 points, but scoring 30 in a 33-point loss is a bit like winning “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?”
For once we saw the Mavericks show up in the first quarter and show the other team who, exactly, is boss. But the early lead wasn’t enough to withstand a Buck blitzkrieg: Milwaukee posted runs of 21-8, 18-8, 19-2, and 25-4. These are your 2008-2009 Dallas Mavericks, folks: failing to show up for games left and right, champions of the ‘Great Disappearing Defense,’ and finding ways to piss away leads against teams they should be beating handily.
Terry also tweaked the wrist on his non-shooting hand, but the injury didn’t seem to be major. Give your thanks to the basketball gods.
The Gold Star of the Night goes to any Mavs fan that could stomach watching this game from beginning to end. All I know is that by the time 48 minutes expired, I had a shattered sense of optimism, a splitting headache, and the taste of vomit in my mouth. I can’t imagine Rick Carlisle felt much better.