The Rundown is back. Every Monday, The Rundown will chronicle the week that was for the Mavericks, as well as let you know what is coming up for the boys in blue, with a unique spin. Simply put, it is your Monday catch-up on all things with the Dallas Mavericks.
Two weeks can change the course of any team. The Mavericks appeared to be in the thick of the playoff chase the last time there was a Rundown. Now things are looking extremely bleak. Dallas is likely happy that the calendar flips over to February. The team went 7-8 in January. They had seven of those losses come by six points or less. The other loss was an overtime loss at Miami. In addition, four of those losses came by three points or less including last two games. The Mavericks are now 7-12 in games when game is within three points with 30 seconds or less. Add it all up and the Mavericks’ chances of making the playoffs are on life support. Let’s take a look at the week for that was for Dallas.
Did THAT Really Happen?
- Rookie Bernard James got his second start of the season in the game against the Portland Trail Blazers. He was thrust well into the rotation as news came out that center Chris Kaman bumped his head during practice leading up to the game against Portland. Kaman was diagnosed with a concussion and was sent back home to get further treatment and evaluation.
- The Mavericks blew a a 21-point lead and missed out on a chance to gain ground in the playoff race in the loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. There wasn’t a surprise appearance by Brandon Roy, but the Mavericks simply couldn’t put away the Trail Blazers. The fourth quarter saw haymakers delivered from each team. LaMarcus Aldridge delivered the last punch. Seconds after hitting a game-tying 3-pointer (????), Aldridge hit the game-winning jumper over Brandan Wright.
- One critical turnover in the game against the Trail Blazers saw O.J. Mayo called for a charge with 1.5 seconds remaining in a tie game. The league office admitted the following day that the call on Mayo was erroneous and that Mayo should have been granted two free throws instead. “After review at the league office, the video replay confirmed the play should have been ruled a blocking foul as Portland’s Ronnie Price did not get his body directly in Mayo’s path prior to him starting his upward shooting motion,” an NBA statement read. “Mayo should have been granted two free throws.” Transparency is good for the league, but it doesn’t really give the Mavericks or Mayo and warm and fuzzy feelings as it was an opportunity lost.
- The Mavericks were rumored to be a third team in a trade that would help facilitate Rudy Gay being dealt from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Toronto Raptors. Ultimately, the Detroit Pistons slid in as the third team. Reports indicate that the Mavericks refused to include Vince Carter in the deal. Putting Carter in the deal would have allowed Dallas to receive Jose Calderon in the deal from Toronto. Calderon has been linked to the Mavericks for several years and he would bring stability to the point guard position. Fans may be upset at the move, but it was the right move to retain Carter for the moment. Calderon could easily be had if the team really wants him this summer as he’ll be an unrestricted free agent. Carter is proving to bring more bang for the buck so he will garner a lot of interest from teams around the league as the trade deadline approaches. It made sense to keep Carter at the expense of getting Calderon, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a lock he’ll remain on the team once the trade deadline comes and goes.
- Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle was less than pleased with the officiating at the end of the game in the loss against the Golden State Warriors, particularly one play near the end of the game. Brandan Wright was along the baseline and went for the game-winning shot but was blocked by Andrew Bogut. Wright flailed his arms and felt like he was fouled. “Look, the game came down to the call that wasn’t made,” Carlisle told reporters after the game. “Brandan Wright got hit in the arm and it’s obvious. It’s two (games) in a row.” Frustration was clearly mounting, after the league’s announcement that they botched the call in their previous game against Portland. “I’m disappointed and I’m very concerned,” Carlisle said. “Concerned about what’s happening at the end of games with the officials. I can only be honest.”
Moments later, Carlisle added: “I’ve never been one to make it about the officials. So I don’t want to wallow in this too much. But it’s a fact that two nights in a row, miscalls have really hurt us, and I’m disappointed by it.” Owner Mark Cuban tweeted after the game, “Cant wait to see what the NBA says about this no call with 2 secs left. #2gamseinarow.” It was announced over the weekend that Carlisle was fined $25,000 by the NBA office for his comments. Cuban was not fined for his tweet.
- Darren Collison took another positive step in his development as he took over the final stretch of the game against the Phoenix Suns. He had seven points, three assists, two rebounds, one steal and no turnovers in the final 6:29. The point guard finished the game with 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting, six rebounds and six assists in the victory over Phoenix.
Box Score Revelations
- It was a vintage Dirk night in the game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Dirk Nowitzki tallied a season-high 26 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists in 34 minutes at Portland on Jan. 29 (previous high: 20 points on 2 occasions). He led Dallas in scoring for the second straight game (fifth time this season). He scored 18-plus points for the fourth time in his last six games. Dirk hit clutch shot after clutch shot and it was good to see that it appeared he was rounding into form. The problem was he was injured during the fourth quarter of that game. Dirk said he felt a little “pull” during the fourth quarter of the game. It was revealed that he had a strained right adductor and sat for the games against Golden State and Phoenix. Those games marked the first game he’s missed since returning to the lineup on Dec. 23.
- With Dirk Nowitzki out against the Warriors, Dahntay Jones, Shawn Marion, Elton Brand, O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison started for Dallas at Golden State. The Mavericks used their 18th different starting lineup of the season (in their 46th game of the year). Dallas used 13 different starting lineups in 2011-12. Dallas only has two more wins (20) than they do starting lineups used (18). That’s not good.
- O.J. Mayo had unpleasant endings to the games against Portland and Golden State. In the game against the Trail Blazers, Mayo scored 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting, had nine assists and grabbed seven rebounds, but he had five turnovers, including three in the last 90 seconds of the game. Mayo once again had a nice game against Golden State as he tallied 25 points, five rebounds and six assists with only two turnovers, but people will remember his final trip to the free throw line. Mayo went 1-of-2 at the free throw line with 43 seconds left in the game. The second free throw that was missed would have tied the game at 98. Mayo is 14-of-22 on free throws (63.6 percent) in the last minute of games this season when they are within five points. To his credit, Mayo held himself accountable and recognizes the situation in regards to the free throws. “We wouldn’t be in that position (needing a game-winning shot) if I made a damn free throw,” Mayo told reporters after the game.
“I guess I’m [expletive] choking, huh?” Mayo continued. “I’ve got to get back. I don’t know, man. I don’t know. I don’t have a good answer for you. Those are the results. Hopefully I get back there tomorrow, just like that.”
- The bench was huge for the Mavericks in their victory over the Suns. The second unit scored 52 points, pulled down 18 rebounds and added 10 assists. They were led by Vince Carter’s 17 points and Jae Crowder’s 13 points. According to Mavericks’ statistician Dave Keeney, Dallas has had 50 or more bench points in each of the three games against Phoenix this year. The Mavericks’ bench is averaging 42.8 in their last 11 games (leads NBA).
Check Your Calendar
- The Mavericks will end their four-game road trip with a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Feb. 4. The Thunder will likely not be in the greatest of moods as they suffered a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in their most recent game. The game was just the fourth win against a Western Conference team for the Cavs (4-15). Based on how the first two games of the trip started, the Mavericks would love to end up going .500 on their four-game road trip.
- After the road trip, the Mavericks will have a four-game homestand that will send them to the All-Star break. The Mavericks will once again see the Portland Trail Blazers on Feb. 6. There’s not much to say in regards to what to look for in the game since they just played each other. Every game from here on out is absolutely critical for the Mavericks. The chances of making the playoffs are teetering off the edge of the cliff. They need to do anything and everything possible to build up momentum going into the All-Star break.
- Dallas will have two days off before they see another familiar foe in the Golden State Warriors on Feb. 9. The game will mark the fourth game in five nights for the Warriors, the final game of a four-game road trip and the second night of a back-to-back. The Warriors will take on the new-look Memphis Grizzlies on Feb. 8. The Mavericks will need to take advantage of the situation and get a game they will clearly need. If Dallas is unable to win the game against Golden State, their playoff chances will clearly be on life support.
BG’s Baller of the Week
Baller status has been granted to Shawn Marion. Darren Collison has been a nice bright spot for the Mavericks over the last stretch of games, but credit must be given where credit is due and it must go to Shawn Marion. Marion had a monster week for the Mavericks as he averaged a double-double for the week as he averaged 14.7 points and 12.3 rebounds in the three games for Dallas. Marion did that while averaging just under 34 minutes per game.
Marion registered his ninth double-double of the season (413th career) with 18 points and a season-high 17 rebounds (four offensive) in 35 minutes at Golden State. It was tied for the most rebounds by a Maverick in a game this season (Kaman had 17 rebounds vs. Golden State on Nov. 19). Marion’s previous high rebounding game this year was 14 at Washington on New Year’s Day. Marion became the first Dallas player to have at least 18 points and 17 rebounds in a game since Tyson Chandler had 18 points and 18 boards vs. Washington on Jan. 31, 2011 (exactly two years ago to the day).
Through the ups and downs of the season, Marion has been the consummate professional and given everything he has for the Mavericks. He seems to be doing it in an extremely efficient manner. At this point, it seems like nothing can slow Marion down, not even father time. You can call him the team’s Benjamin Button because it seems as if he is aging backwards. That’s what’s up.
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.