The NBA: Mediocre Mavs?

Why is Rick Carlisle grimacing? Oh, maybe because his
Mavs are so far from championship form.

*Unless otherwise specified, all images are from the Associated Press.

“It’s been a tough ride, but we knew with so many games in so many days that injuries were going to be a part of the season, especially with an older team. It’s been tough having some guys in and out. Hopefully we can get everybody healthy here at last, make a push and get some momentum going towards the playoffs.” – Dirk Nowitzki

The last time the Dallas Mavericks blew a big lead and ended up losing to the Portland Trail Blazers was in the 2011 NBA Playoffs. I guess it served as some sort of wakeup call because the Mavs eventually won their first NBA championship that same year.

But that was a different Mavericks team. That was last season. They still had Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stevenson and JJ Barea. 

This season’s Dallas squad put on more age and not enough muscle. They have a helluva lot more collective experience, but not a lot of speed. They are the defending champions of the NBA, but they’re not even a lock-in for the playoffs just yet.

The fact of the matter is that the Mavs have been not-so-marvelous throughout the condensed season.  

Take the last 10 games as an example.

The Mavs have gone 4-6 in that stretch. And though one might excuse them for losing most of their games against playoff-bound squads, it still leaves a bitter taste in the mouth for Mavs fans.

Right now Dallas sits tied for the 6th spot with Houston, 10.5 games behind the West-leading Spurs. They are just half a game ahead of the surging Nuggets, with both Phoenix and Utah still potentially able to steal any of the last three playoff seeds. It’ll be a tight finish, and Dallas will be in the thick of it.

Like last year, Dallas will still have to rely on great interior defense and great outside shooting. Despite the absence of Chandler and Setevenson, it’s quite surprising that the Mavs are still an awesome defensive unit (on most days). In fact, they’re in the top half of the league in block, are top 4 in steals, and are tied for 3rd in terms of defensive rebounds. They are also the 6th-best defensive team overall.  In terms of shooting, Dallas is a volume team. They are 4th in terms of chucking the most 3s, and 6th in makes with more than 7 a game. That, however, places them at 22nd in the league in terms of %, which is NOT good. It’s okay for the Mavs to continue shooting the 3 (what else can they do?), but they have to better at actually making them.

If you’re a fan, however, don’t expect these Mavs to be a clear favorite in the postseason (provided they get there). This is just a very different team – an older and wiser team, but not a very athletic one. Can magic happen again in Texas? Maybe, Texas has three potential playoff clubs afterall, but perhaps not for this mediocre Mavericks team.

After the JUMP, April 5-7, 2012 stat-stuffers:

April 5, 2012 Game Recaps:
NYK over ORL, 96-80
Carmelo Anthony scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds to help the Knicks earn a 96-80 victory over the Magic at Amway Center on Thursday. Tyson Chandler recorded a double-double with 12 points and 12 boards, while J.R. Smith and Toney Douglas netted 15 points apiece for the Knicks, who extended their advantage to 1 1/2 games over the idle Milwaukee Bucks for the final playoff spot in the East. Dwight Howard returned for the Magic after missing two straight with back spasms, but went scoreless in the first half and finished with just eight points. Jason Richardson poured in 16 points to lead the way for Orlando. The Magic are mired in a five-game losing streak for the first time since Jan. 12-20, 2007 and now occupy the sixth spot in the East, falling behind the idle Atlanta Hawks for fifth, despite having identical 32-23 records.

CHI over BOS, 93-86
Luol Deng poured in a season-high 26 points and the Chicago Bulls defeated the Celtics 93-86 at United Center on Thursday. Joakim Noah finished with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Carlos Boozer recorded a double-double with 12 points and 14 boards for Chicago, which snapped their first two-game losing streak of the season. Paul Pierce scored 22 points, Brandon Bass added 15 points and Kevin Garnett tallied 12 points and 14 rebounds. Ray Allen came off the bench for the first time since 2002-03 and scored 14 points, but the Celtics fell for the second time in as many games. Boston's lead in the Atlantic Division is down to one game over the idle Philadelphia 76ers, whom the Celtics host on Sunday after making a stop in Indiana on Saturday.

LAC over SAC, 93-85
Randy Foye connected on four straight free throws in the final 16.5 seconds and the Clippers held off the Kings for a 93-85 victory at Power Balance Pavilion on Thursday. Foye finished with 20 points to lead the Clippers, while Caron Butler and Blake Griffin each scored 14 and Chris Paul and Eric Bledsoe added 13 points apiece. Los Angeles had its six-game win streak snapped in a 113-108 loss to the Lakers on Wednesday. Isaiah Thomas paced the Kings with 17 points and Justin Thompson recorded a double-double with 15 points and 16 rebounds. Sacramento wrapped up its four- game home stand at 1-3.

DET over WAS, 99-94
Greg Monroe led five Pistons in double figures with 18 points and Detroit defeated the Wizards 99-94 at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Thursday. Rodney Stuckey returned from a three-game absence to score 15 points, Tayshaun Prince chipped in 14 and Ben Gordon and Jason Maxiell tallied 13 and 11 points, respectively, helping the Pistons secure their third straight victory. John Wall scored a game-high 28 points to go with 10 assists and Kevin Seraphin added 15 points and nine rebounds for the Wizards, who dropped their fourth straight contest.
April 6, 2012 Game Recaps:
IND over OKC, 103-98
Danny Granger netted 26 points and the Indiana Pacers held off a late charge to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 103-98, on Friday. Roy Hibbert had a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds, David West supplied 14 points and Paul George contributed a career- high 16 boards as the Pacers won their fourth straight. Indiana remained 1 1/2 games ahead of Atlanta, which edged Detroit later Friday, for third place in the Eastern Conference. Kevin Durant scored 44 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter, but the Thunder could not overcome a 24-point second-half deficit despite making it a three-point game late in the fourth. After leading throughout most of the season, Oklahoma City finds itself tied with surging San Antonio for the top playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Thunder have dropped three straight while the Spurs have won 10 in a row, including a 128-103 rout of the Hornets on Friday.

ATL over DET, 101-96
Jeff Teague tied a career-high with 24 points and dished out a season-high 11 assists as the Atlanta Hawks survived a fourth-quarter push by the Detroit Pistons to escape with a 101-96 victory at Philips Arena. Josh Smith added 22 points and 12 rebounds while Joe Johnson and Ivan Johnson netted 16 points apiece for the Hawks, who won for the third time in four games. Rodney Stuckey scored 27 points to pace Detroit, which had its three-game win streak snapped. Will Bynum contributed 15 points off the bench and Brandon Knight finished with 13 in a losing effort.

MEM over MIA, 97-82
Fresh off one of their best wins this season, the Miami Heat threw up one of their biggest stinkers. Their head coach called it a butt-kicking. Rudy Gay scored 17 points and the Memphis Grizzlies snapped Miami's 17-game home winning streak Friday night with a wire-to-wire 97-82 victory. Mike Conley and Marreese Speights added 15 points apiece for the Grizzlies, who have won four of five, and Zach Randolph came off the bench for 14 points and 14 rebounds in a dominating team win. The Heat's home streak, the best in the NBA this season, ended one win shy of the franchise record of 18 set during the 2004-05 season. Their previous loss at American Airlines Arena came Jan. 22 to Milwaukee. LeBron James had 21 points, including 11 in the third quarter as Miami tried to rally, while Dwyane Wade scored 20 and Chris Bosh added 19.

NJN over WAS, 110-98
Gerald Wallace and Deron Williams led five Nets in double-figures with 19 points apiece and New Jersey easily dispatched the Washington Wizards, 110-98, on Friday. The Nets set season-highs in field goal percentage (56.3 percent) and assists (32). MarShon Brooks finished with 18 points, Anthony Morrow netted 17 and Jordan Williams scored a career-high 14 for the Nets, who picked up a win in the first game of their second-to-last three-game homestand at Prudential Center. New Jersey embarks for the Barclays Center in Brooklyn next season. John Wall supplied 18 points for the Wizards, who have lost five straight and 10 of 11.

CLE over TOR, 84-80
Antawn Jamison scored 16 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and the Cavaliers snapped a nine-game losing streak with an 84-80 win over the Raptors at Air Canada Centre on Friday. Lester Hudson added a career-high 23 points and handed out seven assists off the bench as Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving continues to rest his ailing shoulder. Samardo Samuels chipped in 10 points and seven boards. DeMar DeRozan scored a game- high 28 points, while Andrea Bargnani added 19 points and seven boards for the Raptors, who had their three-game win streak halted.

POR over DAL, 99-97 (OT)
It seemed as if Portland and Dallas would be heading into double overtime for the second straight meeting between the teams, but LaMarcus Aldridge connected on a fadeaway jumper as the buzzer sounded in overtime to lift the Trail Blazers over the Mavericks, 99-97, at American Airlines Center. These teams last met on February 11 with Dallas taking a 97-94 decision in double OT behind Delonte West's six points in the second overtime period. Aldridge finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds, while Raymond Felton scored a game-high 30 points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists for Portland, which won consecutive games for the first time since January 23-24. Dirk Nowitzki paced the Mavericks with 23 points and 14 boards. Jason Terry added 18 points and five assists in Dallas' third loss in five games.

MIL over CHA, 95-90
Monta Ellis continued to shine in a Milwaukee uniform, scoring 25 points to lift the Bucks to a 95-90 victory over the Bobcats at Bradley Center on Friday. Brandon Jennings added 18 points to go with nine assists, Mike Dunleavy poured in 15 points off the bench, and Ersan Ilyasova recorded a double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds for the Bucks, who have won five of their last six. Milwaukee trails New York by one game for the final playoff spot in the East. Charlotte got a career game from Byron Mullens, who scored a career-high 31 points and grabbed 14 boards. Kemba Walker filled the stat sheet with 18 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, but the Bobcats fell for the 10th time in as many contests.

SAS over NOH, 128-103
Tim Duncan had 19 points, six rebounds, two blocks and two steals, as the red-hot San Antonio Spurs cruised past the New Orleans Hornets, 128-103. Manu Ginobili and Patrick Mills each added 14 points for the Spurs, who have won 10 in a row. Stephen Jackson and Gary Neal donated 13 points apiece. San Antonio shot 60.7 percent from the field and 9-of-18 from three-point range while improving to 22-4 at home this season. Eric Gordon had 31 points in his second game back for the Hornets, who fell to 14-41 on the season. Marco Belinelli and Carl Landry ended with 15 and 13 points, respectively.

DEN over PHX, 105-99
Arron Afflalo scored 30 points, including a key three down the stretch, and the Denver Nuggets beat the Phoenix Suns for the fifth straight time, 105-99, on Friday night. Andre Miller hit the go-ahead free throws with 1:23 remaining, but Afflalo's three-pointer from the right corner on the next trip down the court put the lid on Denver's winning return to the Pepsi Center. Al Harrington had 23 points and Miller scored 15, both off the bench, as the Nuggets returned from a 3-4 road trip with their first home game since March 21. Shannon Brown scored 18 points, Jared Dudley had 17 and Steve Nash contributed 14 points and 11 assists for the Suns, who started the day one game behind the Nuggets for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference.

UTA over GSW, 104-98
Al Jefferson had 30 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks, as the Utah Jazz took down the Golden State Warriors, 104-98. Devin Harris added a season-high 28 points and five assists in his return to the lineup for the Jazz, who have won two of three since a three-game skid. Gordon Hayward and Paul Millsap donated 14 and 12 points, respectively. David Lee ended with 26 points and 12 boards for the Warriors, who failed to build off Wednesday's win over Minnesota. Klay Thompson tallied 23 points and five rebounds.

HOU over LAL, 112-107
Luis Scola scored 10 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter as the Houston Rockets outlasted the Los Angels Lakers, 112-107, at Staples Center. Goran Dragic added 26 points and 11 assists while Marcus Camby contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Rockets, who won for the sixth time in nine games. Kobe Bryant netted a game-high 28 points, Metta World Peace had 23 and Pau Gasol finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for Los Angeles, which had its four-game win streak snapped. Andrew Bynum had 19 points, seven rebounds and two blocks for the Lakers before getting ejected from the game early in the fourth quarter after receiving his second technical foul.

April 7, 2012 Game Recaps:
BOS over IND, 86-72
Paul Pierce scored 24 points and the Boston Celtics cruised to an 86-72 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday. Ray Allen came off the bench and netted 19 points, while Kevin Garnett registered 15 points and seven rebounds for Boston, which snapped a two-game skid with their sixth win in eight tries. The Celtics put some distance between themselves and the 76ers for the top spot in the Atlantic Division for the moment. Philadelphia which entered the day one game back, was playing Orlando. The Sixers will visit TD Garden on Sunday. Danny Granger led the Pacers with 20 points and David West connected on 8-of-10 from the field en route to 16 points for Indiana, which saw a four-game winning streak end in the finale of a back-to-back series. 

ATL over CHA, 116-96
Joe Johnson led eight Hawks in double-figures with 18 points as Atlanta routed the Charlotte Bobcats, 116-96, on Saturday. Ivan Johnson netted 17 points off the bench, Josh Smith and Jannero Pargo finished with 15 apiece and Zaza Pachulia grabbed 16 rebounds to go with 12 points for the Hawks, who won their third in a row. Cory Higgins supplied a career-high 22 points, but it was not enough for the Bobcats, who have lost 11 straight. 

MEM over DAL, 94-89
Rudy Gay scored a game-high 25 points as the Memphis Grizzlies held off the Dallas Mavericks, 94-89, at FedExForum. Zach Randolph added 15 points and 11 rebounds while Gilbert Arenas netted 14 points for the Grizzlies, who won for the seventh time in nine games. Dirk Nowitzki paced the Mavericks with 17 points to go along with eight rebounds as Dallas dropped its fourth game in six tries. 

NOH over MIN, 99-90
Jason Smith had a career-high 26 points, 10 rebounds and three steals, as the New Orleans Hornets held off the Minnesota Timberwolves, 99-90. Chris Kaman added 21 points, 10 boards and four blocks for the Hornets, who have won two of three since a three-game skid. Greivis Vasquez donated 11 points and 10 assists. Kevin Love ended with 29 points and 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who have dropped five in a row. Michael Beasley tallied 20 points. 

ORL over PHI, 88-82
Dwight Howard scored 20 points with 22 rebounds and the Orlando Magic avoided their first six-game losing streak in more than six years with an 88-82 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday. Glen Davis had a game-high 23 points and 12 boards for the Magic, who snapped a five-game losing streak -- their first in more than five years. None of the five Sixers starters scored in double digits. Thaddeus Young had a team-high 20 points and Jodie Meeks scored 11 of his 16 during a big run in the first half that gave Philadelphia a 10-point lead. But the Sixers faltered down the stretch and dropped their third straight to fall two games behind Boston for first place in the Atlantic Division. 

MIL over POR, 116-94
Brandon Jennings and Beno Udrih scored 21 points apiece as the Milwaukee Bucks used a dominant second half to run away with a 116-94 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers at Bradley Center. Ersan Ilyasova added 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Monta Ellis finished with 17 points and seven assists for Milwaukee, which won its fourth straight game to pull within a half game behind the idle New York Knicks for the eighth and final postseason spot in the Eastern Conference. LaMarcus Aldridge netted 21 points and Raymond Felton contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who had their two-game win streak snapped. 

PHX over LAL, 125-105
Shannon Brown had 24 points and the Suns took down the Kobe Bryant-less Lakers, 125-105, on Saturday. Bryant's consecutive games streak came to an end at 138 due to an injured left shin. Michael Redd added 23 points for Phoenix, which made 14 three-pointers and set a franchise record for the fewest turnovers in a game with three. Marcin Gortat ended with 14 points and nine rebounds for Phoenix, which got 13 points apiece from Sebastian Telfair, Markieff Morris and Steve Nash. Pau Gasol had 30 points and 13 boards for the Lakers, who have lost two in a row. Andrew Bynum donated 23 points and 18 boards.

Super Scorers (Top scorers of the night!)
April 5: John Wall (WAS) – 28
April 6: Kevin Durant (OKC) – 44 
April 7: Pau Gasol (LAL) – 30 

John Wall is an awesome talent stuck on a bad team.
Will he make the jump elsewhere like so many of his ilk?

Ragin’ Rebounders (Top rebounders of the night!)
April 5: Jason Thompson (SAC) – 16
April 6: Paul George (IND) – 16 
April 7: Dwight Howard (ORL) – 22 

Dynamic Dishers (Top playmakers of the night!)
April 5: Rajon Rondo (BOS) – 12
April 6: Deron Williams (NJN) – 13  
April 7: Chris Paul (LAC) – 15 

Come mid-2012, who will win the Deron William sweepstakes?

Terrific Thieves (Top thieves of the night!)
April 5: Chris Paul (LAC) – 5
April 6: Brandon Jennings (MIL) – 5 
April 7: Chris Paul (LAC) – 7 

Boomin’ Blockers (Top blockers of the night!)
April 5: Dwight Howard (ORL) & Joakim Noah (CHI) – 3
April 6: Serge Ibaka (OKC) – 7 
April 7: Greg Stiemsma (BOS) – 5 

Sharpshooters (Top 3-point shooters of the night!)
April 5: A LOT with 3!!!
April 6: Devin Harris (UTA), Raymond Felton (POR), & Arron Afflalo (DEN) – 5 
April 7: Randy Foye (LAC) – 7 

April 5, 2012 First Five
C – Joakim Noah (CHI) – 17pts, 9rebs, 3blks, 1ast
F – Jason Thompson (SAC) – 15pts, 16rebs, 2blks, 1ast
F – Luol Deng (CHI) – 26pts, 6rebs, 4stls, 3asts, 1blk
G – Paul Pierce (BOS) – 22pts, 8rebs, 4asts, 3 treys, 2stls
G – John Wall (WAS) – 28pts, 10asts, 4rebs, 2stls

Honorable Mention:
JR Smith (NYK) – 15pts, 9asts, 4rebs, 3 treys, 1stl
Toney Douglas (NYK) – 15pts, 6asts, 5rebs, 1stl
Rajon Rondo (BOS) – 10pts, 12asts, 4rebs, 1stl

Daily Zap:

April 6, 2012 First Five
C – Byron Mullens (CHA) – 31pts, 14rebs, 2asts, 2blks
F – Al Jefferson (UTA) – 30pts, 11rebs, 5blks, 2asts
F – Kevin Durant (OKC) – 44pts, 6rebs, 3asts, 3 treys, 2blks, 1stl
G – Raymond Felton (POR) – 30pts, 7rebs, 6asts, 5 treys, 2stls
G – Jeff Teague (ATL) – 24pts, 11asts, 5rebs, 2stls, 1blk

Honorable Mention:
Arron Afflalo (DEN) – 30pts, 5rebs, 5 treys, 3asts, 1stl
Goran Dragic (HOU) – 26pts, 11asts, 4rebs, 3stls, 3 treys
David Lee (GSW) – 26pts, 12rebs, 4asts

Daily Zap:

April 7, 2012 First Five
C – Chris Kaman (NOH) – 21pts, 10rebs, 4asts, 4blks, 1stl
F – Blake Griffin (LAC) – 27pts, 14rebs, 4asts, 2stls
F – Pau Gasol (LAL) – 30pts, 13rebs, 3asts
G – Randy Foye (LAC) – 25pts, 7 treys, 4rebs, 1ast
G – Chris Paul (LAC) – 19pts, 15asts, 7stls, 5rebs

Chris Kaman remains one of the league's
quality big men despite his team's fortunes.

Honorable Mention:
Kevin Love (MIN) – 29pts, 12rebs, 3 treys, 3asts, 1stl, 1blk
Jason Smith (NOH) – 26pts, 10rebs, 3stls
Dwight Howard (ORL) – 20pts, 22rebs, 6asts, 2blks, 2stl

Daily Zap:


*Game recaps were compiled and compressed from the Sports Network.

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