By Ace Feltman
You knew it was coming.
Last week the title indicated we weren’t closing, so naturally this week we’re looking for help. Makes sense, right? Of course it does.
It’s just that we don’t need someone to help handle the money, or restock shelves or even sweep the floors and clean the bathrooms. We simply just need to score the basketball more.
We of course exclude the 35-year old who was just named to his 12th All-Star Game.
In the Mavericks’ most recent crusher, a 117-115 loss at home against the James Harden-less Houston Rockets, more of the same was on hand for Dallas, who’s margin of holding onto a playoff spot was cut to .5 games.
The unnamed player above is indeed Dirk Nowitzki, who had a marvelous game. 38 points and 17 rebounds but it was completely wasted. Vince Carter was fantastic, scoring 22 points and sinking 10-11 free throws. He and Dirk combined to go 21-22 at the charity stripe. However, they also combine to form a dynamic 82- year old player.
Unfortunately for these veterans, there was little help. Very little help from the cast of characters that form the rest of Coach Rick Carlisle’s increasingly agonizing rotation.
Even without Harden and also one of their few bench factors, Francisco Garcia, Houston still scores and scores some more every game. The Mavericks still aren’t stopping anyone and even though it was the prolific Rockets, the defense is becoming even more of a concern because the time and room for improvement dwindles with each passing game.
As many bright moments as this improved team has offered this year, they are still not doing anywhere near enough to aid their best player, who despite literally still playing at an All-Star level, is often vulnerable against younger, athletic, quick players and dumber, inconsistent, turrible refereeing.
I swear, Dirk and Tim Duncan have to be assaulted to receive consideration for a whistle while Blake Griffin or Kevin Durant just have to double knot their shoelaces to get a call.
Not naming names, but Ed Malloy and Tony Brothers i’m ****ing naming you.
Dirk had 38, Vince has 22 and that’s….math…digital calculator…60 points. The other 65 had to be generated somehow.
Dejuan Blair came in quickly for Samuel Dalembert, who…ugh…just…ugh. Awful. The 6’7″ Blair played excellent, guarding Dwight Howard effectively, utilizing energy and intelligence to bridge the 5 inches that separate the two centers. He just about doubled Dalembert’s minutes and scored 13 points.
But it was the expected help that did nothing to help Carter, Blair but especially the classic performance from Nowitzki that went for not, and sadly we’re only going to get a handful more of these kind of games from the best player ever to wear Mavericks on his chest.
Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis were 5-22 from the field, Calderon making just 2 of 7 three-pointers and Monta Ellis didn’t shot a free throw.
If the Mavericks are to be a contender, or even be in position to contend to be a contender, the wanted help must come from the starting back court, particularly Ellis, who was brought in to be a 1-2 punch with our beloved Dirk.
As i tweeted after the loss, the Mavericks four starters that aren’t you know who combined for 22 points, Vince Carter’s total. (Dirk – 38, Vince – 22, Jose – 8, Monta & Shawn – 6, Sam – 2)
Calderon isn’t assisting like past seasons but his shooting from downtown has obviously been his biggest contribution. However, look at a team like the New York Knicks to see what happens to a jump shooting team that aren’t knocking down their shots.
The Mavericks problems are amounting, internally (Dalembert, bench, defense, scoring, defense) and externally (standings), and there is little to be optimistic about at the moment.
In the end, it comes down to getting offensive firepower from players that aren’t Dirk, at least in the short-term. In the long-term there are more issues but let’s face six at a time for the sake of our beating hearts.
You hate to put pressure on a guy, especially on someone as inexperienced as Monta Ellis, but to deploy the ever-used comic book reference, Dirk is Spider-Man but Monta is the webbing. Thought I was going with Robin to his Batman, didn’t you?!
But seriously, Monta, we need you, and hopefully you’re capable, because that’s the risk we took with this roster to begin with.
Help wanted was convenient…help is needed. As Princess Leia once said, actually forget it.