DALLAS – Patience in Big D is running as thin as Mark Cuban‘s wallet back when he could barely afford to holler at the refs from the nosebleed section.
After another blowout loss Sunday night, a 111-86 pasting by the San Antonio Spurs, desperate Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, one week after ripping his club’s effort in a 38-point trouncing at San Antonio, spoke of implementing radical steps, specifically suspending under-performing players, as a means to jolt his reeling team.
“I’ve got to be inventive and find ways. I don’t have a better answer than that,” Carlisle said. “In the last week, I’ve literally had to scream in the face of two guys in practices and shootarounds to get the point across. And I will do that and I will continue to do that.
“If I have to start suspending guys for not doing things they’re supposed to be doing on the court, I’ll do it and you know, Mark and I will get into it about that, but somehow things have got to change, and it just can’t be about it’s a tough schedule. It just can’t.”
Actual suspensions might not fly, but the notion itself lends to a level of desperation that proves how quickly the season is slipping away. Carlisle can certainly choose to sit underachievers on the bench, not that he has many options in which to turn.
“Whatever coach decides I’m behind him,” Mavs forward Shawn Marion said. “Let him decide on what he wants to do. Whatever he decides I’m with him and that’s what it boils down to.”
The Mavs have lost nine of 10 and six in a row. The margin of defeat in the last six is 19.1 points. The Spurs beat them twice by 38 and 25. Denver beat them by 21. Miami and Memphis each won by double digits. The one game the Mavs competed, they couldn’t hold a fourth-quarter lead and lost to Oklahoma City by six in overtime.
Spurs guard Manu Ginobili had this critique of Dallas’ effort Sunday night in front of home fans that sat through another loss rather than watch the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins in a do-or-die NFL game: “They were not very inspired.”
At 12-19, Dallas needs an immediate about-face or risk the franchise’s record 12 consecutive trips to the postseason officially being moved to the endangered list by mid-January.
“January is make or break for this team,” one Mavs player said.
Said Carlisle: “It’s not what this organization has been about since Mark bought the team and this is a stretch that is unprecedented, really. It’s bad and we have to fix it, and it starts with me. So I’m taking the blame for it.”
Dallas sits in 12th place in the Western Conference, four games out of the eighth and final playoff spot. Their season point-differential continues to balloon in the wrong direction. At minus-4.8, it is better than only Sacramento (minus-5.0) and New Orleans (minus-5.9). Only Houston (103.8) allows more points than Dallas (103.1), but the Rockets are scoring seven more points a game.
Dirk Nowitzki returned four games ago yet the Mavs have lost them all with the 7-footer coming off the bench and struggling to knock down shots. Compounding the problem is O.J. Mayo‘s confounding, ongoing slump.
Dallas begins 2013 at Washington on Wednesday. A loss to the 4-24 Wizards would send Dallas crashing to rock-bottom with a Thursday night tilt looming at Miami.
“We got to get some dog in us. We got to get some fight in us right now,” Marion said. “We got to find a way to get it going because this [expletive] sucks.”