DONUT 1: Suns 102, Mavs 91 - Curse of the "Shave Game"...
For the third time in as many weeks, the Dallas Mavericks had the opportunity to their .500 beards. Once again, Dallas came out with a surprisingly sub-par effort. In "Shave Games," Dallas is averaging a blowout, being outscored by almost 19 points per game.
Perhaps the Mavericks, like most of those in attendance, took for granted that they would leave victorious against a Suns team that had dropped 10 straight games (and their previous 10 games at the AAC) and were seemingly finding new ways to lose with each successive loss. Unfortunately, it was Dallas who found a way to lose against the worst team in the Western Conference.
DONUT 2: Taken for Granted? ...
Though Rick Carlisle declared earlier in the day that anyone around the Mavs organization who may be taking games for granted is a "f---ing idiot," that seems to be exactly what transpired on the court on Wednesday.
"I think we just took their record, their streak for granted, if you ask me. We just can't do that." Vince Carter would say in the locker room afterwards.
Added Shawn Marion, "I guess we underestimated them."
One of these teams came into the game with a 10-game losing streak and one had the look of a highly motivated team playing for more than just pride.
Neither of those teams was the Mavericks.
DONUT 3: The dream is dead ...
With the Mavericks' loss, their playoff dreams held on by the slimmest of threads. With the Lakers' victory against Portland later in the night, Dallas is now mathematically, though long-since practically, eliminated from playoff contention.
DONUT 4: 'An opportunity lost' ...
"It was just another opportunity lost,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. "We just weren't good enough from start to finish. We didn't win a single quarter. It was a decisive win for them and we played poorly. ... It was a disappointing night. ... We all came up short tonight. I'm at the top of the list."
Rick's Video Visit:
DONUT 5: Follow the Mavs on Twitter ...
Hook up with FishSports , Chuck Perry, Jonathan Auping and Michael Dugat to keep you up-to-the-minute informed on all things Mavs!
DONUT 6: 'We can't quit.' ...
"This is a game we felt we should win," Vince Carter said. "We can't quit. I'm not going to quit if I can help it. I think more than anything we need to finish it out on a positive note."
DONUT 7: 'Trix earns the right ...
"When you become a professional athlete you set standards for yourself and your team,'' Shawn Marion said. "You try to leave it all on the floor. I don't know any other way to play. You can't control the ball going in the hoop, but you can control your effort. If you're not able to go out there and give it your all and give it 110 percent then something's wrong. Maybe you need to go sit down. There's no reason we should have lost this game tonight."
"We lose as a team … We are all at fault there."
And yet, he has earned the right to pop off, to lead by voice ...
A lone bright spot for Dallas, in an otherwise unbalanced effort that saw only three Mavericks score in double figures, was Marion, who netted a game-high 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting. He also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds against the team for whom he was a perennial All Star. It also marked his third-straight 20-plus-point game, the first such streak since 2007.
We said it on 105.3 The Fan on Thursday morning: The one person who seems blameless in all of this showed up on the first day of camp in terrific shape and played hard and well until the frustrating end on Wednesday. That's 'Trix.
DONUT 8: Coming Up ...
With only pride, and perhaps a trip to the barber shop left to play for, Dallas now has only four games remaining. Two are against playoff teams, Memphis and Friday's matchup with Denver, and two are against the lowly New Orleans Hornets.
Dallas needs a 3-1 finish if they hope to end the season clean-shaven, though there is an argument to be made that they might just be better off with an 0-4 record and slightly higher draft pick.
As with Carter, that's not The UberMan's mindset, however.
"We've had a couple chances now (to get to .500) and every time we've laid an egg,'' he said. "We're just not good enough in those games when we're right there. We obviously wanted to finish the season on a positive record, I think we owe that to the organization and the fans."
DONUT 9: No Answer for Dragic ...
The star of the night was the Suns Goran Dragic, for whom Dallas has no answer. He easily outplayed Mike James and seemed to get whatever he wanted when Darren Collison was on the court. He would finish with 21 points on 7-14 shooting, with a game-high 13 assists.
His mastery of this game was crystallized in one moment near midcourt where Dragic was bringing the ball up but realized the larger, slower Chris Kaman was trailing a few steps behind. Dragic stopped short, causing Kaman to barrel into the Slovenian point guard and drawing a foul.
It's the sort of easy play for ball-handlers from high school to the NBA to make, a cheap but legal move. However, it also seemed to present, in a nutshell, exactly the frustrations of the Mavericks on this night. ... maybe the best player on the floor, and certainly the craftiest, wasn't a Mav.
DONUT 10: Thanks to our sponsors! ...
A tip of the cap of appreciation to Frisco Party Station and Red Rock Bar & Grill! They help make DB.com what it is ... thanks, guys!
DONUT 11: Chuck's Mavsellaneous ...
Wednesday night, I had the good fortune to sit in the stands and take in the game as a fan. With a frosty adult beverage in hand, I got to sit and cheer each basket and revel in an in-game experience that is truly one of the best in the NBA. Further, sitting near me on the baseline opposite the Mavericks bench were some colorful fans.
*Suns forward Louis Scola nearly sailed into my lap chasing a loose ball. Sitting near me, a fan yelled, "Scola, you almost spilled my beer! It almost just got personal." Later, Scola would ask the man how his beer was before smiling and giving him a friendly high-five.
*After Goran Dragic baited Chris Kaman into his silly foul at midcourt, he was jeered by a nearby fan, calling Dragic's actions "cheap." Before inbounding the ball, Dragic nodded in agreement with the jeers and smiled furtively.
*Following one of P.J. Tucker's many big fourth quarter baskets, he winked at a fan who had been saying "P.J. Who? Never heard of you," each time Tucker set up on the weak side of the Suns offense, which happened to be near my side of the court.
And, no, I was not the anonymous ‘fan' in any of these stories.
*Thanks to the work of The 75-Member Staff for putting together our coverage of this one, with a special tip of the cap to Jonathan Auping and Willie Martin.
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
"It was just a terrible, terrible, disappointing loss,'' said Dirk. "Every loss has been a microcosm of our season."
(Dirk Nowitzki said that this loss wasn't singularly "hope-crushing'' because there have been a culmination of crushes leading up to this. But during his walk-back to the locker room he looks pretty dipleased to us:)
Yes, yes, and now we want to blame someone or something. This was a season probably lost long before the final buzzer at the AAC on Wednesday, as in many ways, this was a futile campaign for a team that won the championship just two seasons ago.
Blame Deron's decision to re-sign with the Nets. Blame "Shark Tank." Blame ‘Plan Powder.' Blame the Dwight Howard and Chris Paul trades. Blame Nowitzki's bum knee. Blame the 2-8 record in OT games. Blame the point guards.
Blame all of it.
Regardless of the various and multiple causes that converged to sink Dallas' hopes this season, the Mavericks are left to pick up the pieces of this shattered season. ... and hopefully to learn from the pain of the "blame.''