You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- When a team loses, the natural inclination is to make a concerted attempt to pinpoint failure and gain a sense of what went ‘wrong’. But in the case of Tuesday night’s loss to the 76ers, it’s difficult to say that the Mavericks underperformed in any definitive way. Perhaps highlighting the team’s costly fourth-quarter turnovers would serve well enough, but the overarching issue is in truth quite simple: Beyond O.J. Mayo (4-10 FG, 11 points, seven assists), the Mavericks possess few consistent scorers to rely on over the course of a game. Chris Kaman (9-13 FG, 20 points, four rebounds) scored at a superb rate tonight, but even he couldn’t save the team from the lulls that plagued them in the third quarter. The Mavericks have lost several close games this year because of ill-timed scoring droughts, and tonight’s turnover-spurred problems were no different. Even as Vince Carter (6-10 FG, 3-5 3PT, 15 points) willed the game to closeness in the final minutes, the offense remained frantic, unsure, and too dependent on nebulous perimeter passing to escape the repetitive and competitive loss awaiting.
- It’s fairly impressive how well Carter still manages to score in bursts, though the team relies on his and Mayo’s rapid-fire infusions far too much. His fourth-quarter play was positively inspirational to an offense that had veered towards stagnancy, but not quite enough to compensate for the team’s previous inconsistency. That inconsistency defeated what was, all considered, a decent collective performance from an ever-shifting Mavericks rotation. Elton Brand (5-10 FG, 17 points, eight rebounds), Darren Collison (5-11 FG, 12 points, six assists, five steals, four turnovers) and Shawn Marion (6-12 FG, 17 points, eight rebounds) played up to or past their standards, and yet the game stands recorded as another tough loss, a symbol of the challenges a talented team lacking its best player faces.