Mavs Strike Out On A Shave And Playoffs

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DALLAS – Strike three, you’re out.

With a third opportunity in the last two weeks to break even and grab a shave for the first time in months, the Dallas Mavericks were blown away, inexplicably embarrassed at home by the skidding Phoenix Suns and laid to rest their run of 12 consecutive playoff appearances.

That franchise record officially ended Wednesday night when the Lakers outlasted the Trail Blazers about 90 minutes after a dominant Goran Dragic (21 points, 13 assists) and the relief-smitten Suns left Dallas with a 102-91 victory.

Each of the Mavs’ three attempts to reach .500 ended in double-digit losses and by an average margin of 18.6 points.

“Every time we’ve had a chance we’ve kind of laid an egg,” said a disappointed Dirk Nowitzki, who said his gimpy ankle was fine as he went just 6-for-18 from the floor for 21 points. “We obviously want to finish the season with a positive record. We owe that to everybody, to the franchise and the fans. This was a game we needed to have.”

Prior to it, Mavs owner Mark Cuban, unaccustomed to rooting for ping-pong balls, acknowledged the obvious: his club has “room to improve, a lot of room to improve.” Then he watched from his baseline seat as the same infuriating issues — horrific guard play, poor defensive rebounding and a non-contesting defense — breathed life into the visitors who entered having lost 10 straight overall, 10 in a row to the Mavs and hadn’t won in Dallas since March 2007.

“We were the team that looked like we were on a back-to-back, not them,” Nowitzki said. “Just a terrible, terrible, disappointing loss.”

After the Mavs’ Wednesday morning shootaround, coach Rick Carlisle was asked if he had to guard against his team taking the cellar-dwelling Suns for granted. His response: “Anybody around here who’s taking any games for granted this year is a [expletive] idiot.”

Yet that message apparently didn’t reach his players. There was veteran Vince Carter, the team’s most consistent performer this season next to Shawn Marion, admitting as much while answering a question that never broached the topic of taking the opponent for granted.

“I think we took the team for granted at the beginning and felt like we could just win the game,” Carter said. “Took their record, their streak for granted, if you ask me. You just can’t do that.”

The last time Dallas didn’t make the playoffs — in the 1999-2000 season — Nowitzki was 21, in his second season and barely able to grow patches of peach fuzz, let alone the mountain-man beard he now sports.

“It didn’t look good for two or three weeks,” Nowitzki said of the Mavs’ playoff chances. “So it’s not like we had unbelievable high hopes for it. It’s not like our hopes are crushed tonight.”

Perhaps not, but the reality of it will certainly set in over a long offseason. Nowitzki reached the pinnacle of his career as The Finals MVP in 2011, delivering the franchise its first championship. Since that shining moment in South Beach, he’s watched the title team be dismantled, suffered the only playoff sweep of his career last season and now he won’t even get that opportunity.

Since that title-clinching night when Nowitzki and his long-gone teammates — Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry — toasted one another, the Mavs have gone 74-70. This empty spring will lead to a busy summer full of decisions for Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson. A second season with a roster full of expiring contracts could leave nine spots open next season if O.J. Mayo opts out of his contract.

Nowitzki has beat the same drum all season: “This is a big summer for us.” Dallas lost out in its pursuit of Deron Williams last summer and now must get creative to put a competitive team around their 7-foot star who turns 35 in June and will enter the final year of his contract.

His health in his 15th season is also now an unavoidable issue. Nowitzki missed the first 27 games of the season after having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, the first operation of his career, and 29 games in all. Averaging 17.0 points, he’s on pace with four games left to finish with his lowest scoring average since his rookie season. He had his moments, pouring in 33 against the Clippers and 35 against the Bulls. But in his last five games, a stretch Dallas is 2-3, Nowitzki’s averaged 11.5 points.

Cuban noted that had his core three — Nowitzki, 34, Marion (missed 15 games), 34, and Carter (missed one game), 36 — played the entire season together, then the season’s direction might have been different. Still, those three were all on the floor Wednesday. They accounted for 61 of 91 points and Dallas still lost to the struggling Suns.

Cuban reiterated Wednesday that the offseason plan remains the same as last summer, to somehow — through free agency or a trade — deliver an impact player that can ease Nowitzki into a co-starring role.

That destination at the moment has no clear path.

“We maximized the first generation of Dirk’s golden years to win a championship,” Cuban said. “So we’ll do our best for his second generation of golden years and then the next generation and the next generation until he runs out of golden years.”

It’s going to be a big summer in Dallas.

44 Comments

  1. John Yohannan says:

    Lakers will make the playoffs. I am sure of it!

  2. edgar says:

    I was really dissapointed with mavs! I mean commmon! Next year will be a good year i promise yall that!

  3. french fan says:

    i couldn’t agree more tyson chandler was a big piece of that title run they should’ve re-sign him for a big time contract cause he worth it, what he bring to the D and tu the paint was vital , kaman isn’t tough , lack of defense toughness and wright is too young , i feel bad for Dirk he is one off the greatest all time and 2 yearw ago the best shooter in the world . and when the lights are out he works so much when he is alone in a gym he only miss like 5-10 shoot on a 100 .. The real problem is that Dallas was always a good offensive team through a decade but when they put a defensive mindset with carlisle and his staff came they become a title threat We have to get back a solid guy in the paint that could defend really hard and score 10-15p a game near the rim . My secret dream was always Lamarcus Aldridge cause he is a dallas native and i feel like near dirk he could learn to improve his 16to18feet shot and become one off the best

    j

  4. Aram says:

    Everything rises and falls under leadership. It’s Cuban’s fault.

  5. PAT says:

    The problem is Mac CUBAN . He does not have any respect for the fans and players. How he can trade or SALE the team who gave DALLAS the championship ? His business comes before everything . He is crazy, i do not like him. He is stupid . And we need to stand up and talk .
    Mac Cuban is the problem.

    • Viper139 says:

      Are you sure about that – without Marc Cuban this Dallas Team would gave been no where near a championchip. He made it happen. Sure it was a crazy decision to let Tyson go – I have no idea what hit him – but that is the past.
      I am not sure whether they will be able to bring such a Team together again – but he is willing to try…. let*s see if they are able to make it.

  6. Franz says:

    To Dallas fans and Mark Cuban,

    Congratulations. You have exactly one championship. I’m sure you must be extremely satisfied that your boss broke his team up by allowing terry, chandler, barea, etc. to leave. So satisfied that dirk partied too hard, came into 2012 so unfit and as a result, injured his knee. And so satisfied that you eventually signed a perpetual loser like Vincen carter.

    From San Antonio fans

    • Viper139 says:

      Vince is one of the bright spots besides Dirk and Marion. Too bad the rest is not up to that Standard.

      But if you are a San Antonio fan you are lucky up til now – just like last year at this time – lets hope they don’t drop out of the Playoffs like last year….

  7. chandler says:

    Dirk is one of my favorite players. he is great. I feel bad for mavericks but maybe they can do something in the offseason.

  8. Viper139 says:

    At least I will get more sleep – since I have been watching 90% of all Mavs games live during the night in Germany (most of the games running until 5 am…
    But it really was hard to watch the games most of the season. Besides the great start and some good wins after the all-star break this really was difficult to watch.
    So many bad turnovers in crunchtime, bad execution down the Stretch, no energy from some of Players, bad offiials in Close games – all bad come together in this season.

    Lets really hope they can put together a decent Team for next season.

    GO DIRK :)

  9. MrNBA says:

    Dwight and CP3 are not leaving their LA teams. Don’t even think about Josh Smith and Bynum. Start by signing Al Jefferson, Jose Calderon, and Brandon Jennings. AK47 and Matrix look like an excellent duo at the 3 spot. Brand was a decent sub for Dirk but he can’t knock down a wide open jumper anymore. Pick Scola over him this time. Forget about Kaman. Wright should bulk up.There’s no excuse for Mayo’s decline after the first 4 weeks. Maybe arrange a trade to get back Barea/Terry if their contracts are not too expensive?
    Not too many superstars want to go to Dallas apparently. Screw them. Dallas won it in 2011 with just one star and a group of excellent role players. Why not go back to that formula?

    • Jim says:

      Finally someone mentions a couple of names that are so overlooked it’s not even funny.Calderon could easily get the job done as PG,much better than Darren who is a straight up failure and Big Al is definetely better than Kaman.Jennings would be good too if his ego was kept in check but any offer sheet he signes will probably be matched by the Bucks.Still I believe the Mavs should chase all of the players +Josh Smith.

  10. grits says:

    I think the Mavs would be in the playoffs if dirk was healthy this season. I also had higher hopes for the rookie jared cunningham who has yet to adapt to the nba game. Im going to defend mark Cuban a little by saying he had two options regarding the 2011 title team. Either satisfy the expiring contracts (chandler, kidd, terry, etc..) Or keep that cap space for the future and maybe sign someone like deron williams which failed. Personally i would have kept tyson chandler and jj barea but there was no way to sign everyone back without being penalized financially. Remember With the lockout and the new cba agreement you can’t just buy a championship team anymore, that’s my two cents

  11. Jarek says:

    The Mavs NEED to have a big summer that don’t doesnt mean it will happen. Last summer Deron Williams and Dwight Howard were key targets for the Mavs and had a good chance to grab them but ended up with Darren Collison and Chris Kaman. If they don’t get a big free agent this year, I would look for the Mav’s to be making some trades and big roster moves in order to rebuild on draft pics

  12. LetsBeReal says:

    Cuban runs his mouth as we all know but how serious of an owner can he be if he splits up a championship winning team? He was always know to take care of his players and give em hefty contracts (which did not work in his favor many times). The only reason they won that year was due to the dirty work of Chandler and even Corey Brewer. In the western conference most teams have strong perimeter players like KD, Klay Thompson, Butler, and guards like Kobe, Westbrook, Curry, Paul, Bledsoe, Nash. There is not one single player on the Mavs roster that cold remotely keep up with any of the mentioned players on their perspective positions. The Mavs seem to be loosing most direct match-ups from the PG position all the way to the C spot. Dirk lost all of his so-called “golden years” appeal. He barely had any impact last season not to mention this. The biggest service Cuban could do for Dirk is to trade him to a contender and get some picks and solid trades in return. Cuban loves talking smack about the rest of the NBA and their franchises, I think its time for him to look at his own ball club and come to rather sobering conclusion; a complete failure which started with him and the front office right after their championship. An internship with Jerry Buss would have been beneficial. Mavs are an example of HOW NOT DO TO IT.

  13. rich says:

    sometimes I curl like a banana pepper

  14. TTKIN says:

    Cuban said his team was better off without Deron Williams because a high-impact player would mess with his salary cap too much. And yet here he is saying he has the same plan as last summer. Pick one man, you either want an impact player or u dont. but quit yo-yoing your team.

    • Justin says:

      He was right to not sign Deron though. Overrated. Matter of fact most of the Nets starting 5 is. Also, the Mavs would have made the playoffs if they were in the East.

  15. The West is really good says:

    Mav fans should go easy on their team. The West is rugged… Teams like the TWolves Kings Trailblazers could all make a run for the playoffs in the East…. no offense to the Bucks. But I’d say the Hornets and the Suns are about the only teams you’re happy to see in the West.

  16. Officiating gets Lakers 2 playoffs says:

    Multiple games over the last couple weeks have been won by questionable calls/nocalls for the Lakers. I think there should be open investigation and public review of all games and Ref statistic should be available for the public. I would like to see a stat on the 4th quater point referee point swing and how many games teams win or lose based on calls.

    • Leonard says:

      that’s not even what this article is about. This is about the Dallas Mavericks, not the Lakers, what’s wrong with you? and second, the Lakers have won fair and square , i think your’e just a Laker hater or some obsessed NBA fan. but this article is about the Mavericks, not L.A. ,and your username is really dumb.

      • June says:

        It depends on how you look at things really… Some say they are rigged… Some say they’re not… Typical Lakers hater or lover… I’m just all for the game so be it rigged or not, I don’t care much… I’m more like for the ball…

    • Anonymous says:

      If it’s rigged, then why are the lakers at the 8th seed?

    • Fabo24 says:

      Suuuure, and what about the games when the officiating was more then clearly AGAINST the lakers? as many calls as kobe has gotten served on a silver platter over his carreer, the refs have been ruthless in over half the games i have been able to catch this season, lakers hardly touch people but get called for fouls, next play a laker gets shoved and falls hard but no call, yeah dude you are so right, officiating will get the lakers into the playoffs, you sir really know what you’re talking about, and like Leonard said, this article is not even about the lakers, way to be a hater, your parents must be proud to have raised such a ignorant donkey

  17. mon471 says:

    poor talent! just wasted in dallas! poor dirk

  18. Flying Raijin_41 says:

    hate what just happened to the mavericks….i’m a big fan but a disappointing season…sad for dirk…

  19. Uhr-Pacers Bad Boys says:

    I suppose they should try to land on draft ’14 esp in lottery also that summer will be many superstar aviable. quick rebuild for future or okc will dominate clearly.

  20. Mitchell says:

    The Mavs looked like a bunch of scrubs waiting for summer and their pay checks to arrive. What a terrible end to the season. While you guys are relaxing in your multi-million dollar homes, swimming in duckets and otherwise living the good-life during the summer, I’ll be working my 9-5, because there is no summer in the real world.

  21. Patrickmarc says:

    something goes wrong in this team, they have to make it clear this summer,

    • June says:

      So true… I think most teams, when the season ends for them, they start looking for the loopholes and see if they can patch it up… I think the point guard and shooting guard position for the Mavs need more attention… They can’t just let Carter play back and forth from SG to SF since considering his age versus the age of his competition when he goes to SG… He can still play big but he needs more help in filling the SG and the PG position…

  22. The One says:

    Well, compared to what they should prepare for the Summer, what is much more significant is the future when Nowitzki retire ——- I mean, Cuban should find out the man who can take over the team as soon as possible.

  23. ism says:

    As much as I like Cuban, that post-2011-breakup has made me lose faith in him to some extent.
    After that improbable and furiously motivated title…it all went down.
    But I just hope that the Mavs ownership will take some measures to restore my faith, put together a promising team with shooting power, maybe some youngsters, but enough experience to quickly glue together.
    Let’s go, Mavs!

  24. T-Mac Fan says:

    With all the expiring contracts they have… The door will revolve all summer long as we all know how Cuban operates. Even if they don’t land that “superstar” to put on the floor next to Dirk, it will still be a busy summer. I’m sure they will not be bringing much of this team back for next season, no matter what happens with this summers “star sweepstakes”…

    I like Dirk, and Cuban too, and I’d like to see them field a competitive unit next season too… And not this latest band of hired guns. Which was likely a plan D in Cuban’s book for this season as well.

  25. luka says:

    How did they lose?! they had kaman, carter, dirk, matrix, mayo, collison and others. they lost to the worst team in the west with a 10 losing streak without Gortat.

  26. Dirk-a-Derrr says:

    He=Cuban for those that need to be spoon fed.

  27. Dirk-a-Derrr says:

    Although he may never publicly admit it, allowing Tyson Chandler to leave was the worst mistake he and Donnie ever made for this organization.

  28. allaroundballer says:

    Big summer, salary cap space, anything you say but no superstar to hire. I don’t see anybody, maybe josh smith but he is playing more PF than SF. I feel bad for dirk. After 2011 champ, it turns out cuban doesn’t have enough ambition to dominate. He’s not jerry buss

  29. Sara says:

    Feel bad for Dirk…so sad how they do him in Dallas.

  30. Monte says:

    It’s going to be a big summer in Dallas…. I doubt it!
    It was, even last summer, wasn’t it?

  31. Mavs fan from Mongolia says:

    So frustrated for this loss. Only thing to ease frustration is title in 2011, at least we have 1 championship. Agree that MAVS season of this year is done.