Mavs Donuts: The Holiday Gauntlet Continues
DONUT 1: FOREWARD ... With the mangled Miami mess from the previous night likely still lodged somewhere along their digestive tract, the Dallas Mavericks headed to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies. The Mavs would not slip quietly away, fighting to overcome double-digit deficit after double-digit deficit, refusing to allow the game to completely get away from them.
Unfortunately, the Mavs were once again in a giving mood, turning the ball over 24 times, gifting the Grizzlies 29 points off of those giveaways, proving once more, that you can only shoot yourself in the foot so many times before keeping up in a race becomes impossible, as Dallas fell by the final of 92-82.
DONUT 2: MAYO RETURNS ... Entering the game, the story of the night was easily the first return of OJ Mayo to the only other team he has been able to call his own, where he spent his first four seasons.
So, how would Mayo respond?
Coming off his worst shooting night of the season against the Heat (3-of-14, 21.4 percent), Mayo would miss his first five field-goal attempts and not find his first point until 6.3 seconds in the first half, when he split a pair of free throws.
Mayo's final numbers: 10 points, 3-of-11 field goals, 1-of-4 3-pointers, four assists, three rebounds, one steal, one block … and five turnovers.
It's never a good sign when you have more turnovers than either made-field goals or assists.
"They know my tendencies," Mayo said. "It was pretty much 'O.J. was not going to get anything.'''
Actually, including the fact that Juice has shot 6-of-25 in the last two games ... it's more complicated that that ...
DONUT 3: HOW DOES MAYO COMPARE TO SOME TEAMMATES? ... Dirk Nowitzki, Roddy Beaubois and Dominique Jones are the only players on the current roster to have spent their entire careers as Mavs, other than the three rookies.
In other words, it's a roster full of guys that have lived through the emotions of facing their previous teams. How did Mayo stack up to some of his teammates in this category in their most recent attempts?
We're doing a Premium Mavnalysis on this ... and the results will surprise you if you think it's simply a matter of "knowing a former teammate's tendencies.''
To clarify, this is their first game against their most recent former team … in the case of Chris Kaman and Darren Collison, this has not yet occurred as a Maverick, meaning it took place with another team (Kaman with the Hornets facing the Clippers, Collison with Indiana facing the Hornets).
For now, trust that a triumphant return, this was not.
DONUT 4: TURNOVERS GIVETH, LOSSES RETURN ... The Mavs are now 2-4 in games this season when they total 20 or more turnovers … add those results up and you'll find that to mean Dallas has had 6 games with at least 20 turnovers.
This is the most games with 20-plus turnovers for a Mavericks team since the 1997-98 season … a season that stands as the fourth worst in franchise history (by winning percentage), as they finished 20-62.
They had eight such games for that 1997-98 campaign … this Mavs team is up to six through just 27 games … which puts them on pace for just over 18 for the season.
That's bad … very bad.
DONUT 5: ONE OPPORTUNITY LOST ... Darren Collison has started the past two games as Derek Fisher nurses his right patellar tendon strain, and has failed to stake any claim to being the rightful starting point guard.
Collison was on the court when Memphis leapt from the gates to a near immediate 12-point lead (16-4), and was not on the court when Dallas came surging back. Perhaps he was simply caught being part of a starting unit that struggled mightily against their Grizzies counterparts … note that only one starter had a better plus/minus than Collison's minus-14 (Marion, minus-8).
After playing only 10 minutes in the first half, Collison would not return for the final two quarters … the result of illness, per the team and Rick Carlisle. Perhaps this played a role in his struggles.
Regardless of the reason, Fisher's absence provided Collison with an opportunity to make his case for a spot in the starting lineup. Through two games, he has failed to do so.
Collison finished with zero points, 0-of-1 from the floor, two assists, one rebound and one turnover in 10 minutes.
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DONUT 7: ONE OPPORTUNITY GAINED, MOSTLY ... With Fisher out and Collison struggling and then out, Dominique Jones was handed the reins, and for most of the night, looked like he might be the best point guard on this roster … make of that what you will.
DoJo matched his career highs in both points (13) and assists (seven) … though he also matched a career high in turnovers (five).
Like the rest of his team, the turnovers proved to be fatal … but there was plenty of good to come from this game for Jones. Playing without any real threat of a shot – from basically anywhere – Jones continues to show the ability to penetrate at will, as well as the capacity to create shots for his teammates (two of Mayo's three field goals came at the rim from laser passes from DoJo).
There are still the reckless turnovers, but it's hard to deny the stretches of strong play DoJo has brought recently.
"I like the way he played," Carlisle said. "He played with a lot of force."
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DONUT 9: IT'S NOT A CLOSER ... If you read that in an Arnold Schwarzenegger, "It's not a tumor," voice, pat yourself on the back.
Despite the fact that Memphis, with Marc Gasol, employs a roster that appears tailor-made to use a true center against, Chris Kaman once more found himself on the bench for the game's deciding moments, garnering zero minutes in the fourth quarter for the seventh time in the last eight games.
Due to the game's circumstances, you could remove the Miami contest from that equation, if you wish, but the trend remains: in the game's final quarter, Carlisle isn't turning to Kaman.
Against Memphis, when the small lineup that got Dallas back into the game started to become overwhelmed, Carlisle did what he had to do and called for size from the bench … and in came Brandan Wright.
"Their length was a major factor at the end," Carlisle said … and still no Kaman.
B-Wright, playing on a bum ankle, had a very strong game, finishing with 12 points, 5-of-6 field goals, five rebounds, two blocks and three turnovers in 25:38 … and posted the team's best plus/minus, plus-14.
Yet, isn't it supposed to be Kaman called upon in those final minutes? Isn't it?
Kaman played very well in the final frame against the 76ers, acting as an integral force in claiming that victory, but then … two more games, no final quarter minutes (one, if you remove Miami from the equation).
DONUT 10: BUZZER-BEATERS ... A quick look at a lot of concerns ...
*After having the best statistical game of his career, and seemingly filling two very large holes on this roster (rebounding and being a rim protector), we were surprised to see Bernard James not see a minute of action … particularly considering the makeup of the opponent.
*Shawn Marion had his fourth double-double in the last six games. During this six-game stretch, Marion has averaged 13.3 points and 10.5 rebounds.
Through a sad prism, Marion has looked out of place on a team otherwise struggling to maintain some semblance of relevance. This isn't meant as a slight to his teammates, but as a compliment to Marion, who has looked like a champion playing on a team unable to grasp such a concept.
Marion has not relented, has not surrendered, but fights on … we'd expect nothing less from a man proving to be a leader.
*Marc Gasol (11 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks) and Zach Randolph (17 points, 13 rebounds) played very much like we've come to expect them to play.
*Dallas has started very slow the past two games, to the tune of 36 points in the last two opening quarters combined, hitting only 15-of-54 shots (27.8 percent).
*After a hot start through the first five games that saw Jae Crowder convert 50 percent of his 3-point tries, he has hit only 13-of-60 since (21.7 percent) … that includes 0-of-4 behind the arc against Memphis.
DONUT 11: FOLLOW THE MAVS ON TWITTER ... New to Twitter? Here's where to start!
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD If the Mavs have fallen to the level of claiming moral victories in place of actual victories, there is one to be had here. In the wake of one of their worst losses of the season (regardless of what the final margin showed), Dallas showed a strong will to fight for the duration of this game.
Unfortunately, they were again forced to take on an opponent as well as their own mistakes, a combo that proved to be too much to overcome.
Dallas is now 12-15 (three games below .500 for the first time this year) and must face a very tough Spurs team this Sunday, and a hope must remain that any struggles being endured this moment do now filter through and somehow influence the return date of Dirk Nowitzki.
He's needed, so obviously needed … but he must be fully healthy upon return, not put at a raised risk of further injury.
"I was very pleased," Carlisle said, noting his team's "character.'' "We were undermanned, coming off of a late night back-to-back. The guys really hung in and gave what they could give. I was really happy with how everybody fought. There's not much consolation when you lose, but the effort was good."
Next question: When Dirk is ready to again be a foundation piece, will "character,'' "fight'' and "effort'' be enough?