The Dallas Mavericks traveled to Indiana to take on the Pacers, a team many current Mavs once called their own (Rich Carlisle, Jim O'Brien, Troy Murphy, Darren Collison, and Dahntay Jones), in the hopes building upon an ugly win. Instead, they tripped from the gate, allowing the Pacers to score the first seven points of the game in what would prove to be a prelude to the night to come.
Dallas would fight back initially, answering the Pacers opening 7-0 run with a 15-4 burst of their own. Unfortunately, as the minutes piled on the Mavs ability to stay with Indiana wore down, eventually leading to 103-83 blowout loss, a 1-4 road record, and 5-5 overall.
As has often been the case this season, eight times in 10 chances, the Mavs led at the half … however, on this night, they were destined to watch the game get away from them after the intermission, though that tends to happen when you hit only 28-percent of your third-quarter shots on your way to 34 second-half points.
"Little things are adding up right now,'' coach Rick Carlisle said, "and we've gotta put a stop to it."
Indiana came into the night averaging 87.8 points per game while hitting only 39.8 percent of their shots, leaving them at the very bottom of the league in both categories, and having scored 100 points only once this season, not eclipsing that mark until the second overtime period of that contest.
Dallas entered the night as the league’s fourth highest scoring team at 102.4 points per game to go with the league’s sixth best field-goal percentage of 46.7.
By the end of the night, we watched as both teams were sucked into a vortex and spit out into bizarro world as Dallas had their second-lowest scoring night of the season (their 83 beating only the 82 put up against Minnesota) with a putrid field-goal percentage of 37, also their second worst of the young season (again, only surpassing the 36.3 against Minnesota); while Indiana scored 103, their most in regulation this season, and hit 47 percent of their shots, their second highest percentage thus far.
So, how did it get there?
Chris Kaman looked rushed from the start with his midrange game, perhaps hurried by the presence of 7-2 Roy Hibbert, and highlighted the struggles of his team in the second half. Kaman (8 points, 4-of-12 field goals) set a season-high with 10 rebounds, but joined Vince Carter in scoring zero points after the intermission. The paired combined to miss all six shots they took, three each.
"It's gonna take a full collective effort to win these games,'' Kaman said,
"because we don't have that one guy. Dirk's out right now."
That’s a part of the story.
Darren Collison was playing against the team that chose George Hill over him and then proceeded to dump him from the roster in a sign-and-trade deal for Ian Mahinmi. This may have served as motivation for Collison, but left him to wallow in one of his most ineffective games as a Maverick, scoring 10 points on 3-of-10 field goals, and handing out four assists. He didn’t have a turnover, but also was a near non-factor in this game.
Okay, maybe there was one small silver lining in an otherwise dreary performance: Bernard James.
James finished with nine points, seven rebounds and two blocks in only 16 minutes, showing quickness and athleticism around the rim at both ends of the floor. There were certainly instances where he appeared lost among the defensive rotations, or out of place on offensive positioning, but the good he brought outweighed these negatives common for rookie players finding their way. From setting picks to battling for boards he didn’t claim, along side those he did, his level activity was a welcome sight.
After not seeing the court on Wednesday night against Washington, Brandan Wright played 11 minutes acting as the fifth big behind starters Kaman and Elton Brand and backups James and Troy Murphy, though if Murphy has many more nights of only three rebounds in 20 minutes, as he did here, while offering little at the offensive end, Wright’s place in the rotation may be forced to shift once more.
The season remains in its infancy, and the Mavs have yet to take the court with their best player, but an alarming trend is beginning to take shape. Dallas is 4-1 at home and 1-4 on the road, and the depth of this disparity only becomes more glaring when you consider that they are scoring 14.2 points less per game on the road, while hitting 40.6 percent of their shot attempts compared to 51 percent at home.
The chasm there is far from subtle.
Marion is back, though didn’t quite look all the way back. James is showing signs of growth ("He's always going to give everything he's got," Carlisle said of Sarge) … and the sunshine and daffodils stop there.
This was a 20-point loss to a team also playing without their star, Danny Granger, that entered the game with a record of 3-6. There isn’t much positive to be found here.
On to the next one.