Mavs need shot therapy on West Coast
If there's been an uglier NBA game during the shot-clock era, it's not coming to mind right now. The Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers have played a lot of close games over the past 32 years, but on Monday they looked more like two really bad Eastern Conference teams (from the 80s) assaulting the rim with brick after brick.
I suppose someone could view this as a celebration of defense, but that seems like a stretch in the aftermath of the Lakers' 73-70 win at Staples Center. The Mavs caught Kobe Bryant on an awful shooting night (7-of-22) and held the Lakers to seven points in the third quarter. That Dallas only held a 51-46 lead at that point speaks to the futility of both offensively challenged teams.
Dirk Nowitzki, who missed his first six shots before finishing a respectable 8-of-17, said this is the type of thing that can occur when teams are playing so many games in a short time span. But that excuse has already become tiresome 14 games into this strange season. We've seen the Mavs dismantle the Thunder on the second night of a back-to-back and also take down a Celtics team at TD Garden that was coming off four days of rest.
It's hard to reach any sort of reasonable conclusions about this Mavs team because you never know which players will show up on a nightly basis. Making his first return to Los Angeles since being traded to the Mavs, Lamar Odom provided a rare scoring punch with seven points in the first quarter. But then he missed eight of his next 10 shots to mirror most of his teammates. Vince Carter had scored a combined 32 points in blowout wins over the Bucks and Kings, but he injured his foot Monday while attempting to tie the game with a 3-pointer at the end of regulation.
It's not like losing to the Lakers in mid-January is devastating, but it would be nice to capitalize when Kobe's team is flirting with its lowest scoring totals in franchise history. It took an Andrew Bynum free throw to keep the Lakers from matching a franchise-low six points in the third quarter. It's worth noting that Shawn Marion has defended Bryant as well as anyone over the years, which may have prompted a late-night tweet from Mavs owner Mark Cuban complaining that his forward's not a perennial member of the NBA's all-defensive team.
With Bryant missing 15 of his 22 shots, the Lakers leaned on center Andrew Bynum's 17 points and 15 rebounds. If his mental toughness ever catches up with his considerable physical tools, Bynum could be a a force in the league. Mavs center Brendan Haywood's having a nice season, but he was no match for Bynum on Monday. Coach Rick Carlisle gave more minutes to Ian Mahinmi, who finished with nine points and 10 rebounds. He's a much better offensive option than Haywood right now, as evidenced by his willingness to knock down a jumper in the fourth quarter.
The Mavs are off Tuesday before facing LA's new "it" team, the Clippers. Even with Chris Paul's availability in doubt due to injury, this is a formidable squad. How will the Mavs deal with Blake Griffin in the paint and old friend Caron Butler on the perimeter?
You have to believe Jason Kidd and Jason Terry won't combine to shoot 4-of-19 from the field, as they did against the Lakers. Terry's one of the main reasons the Mavs have stayed afloat while trying to integrate several new players. Jet was missing everything Monday, but that didn't stop him from nailing a floater in the lane to tie the game at 70 with 9.9 seconds left against the Lakers.
The one thing we know for sure based on Monday's performance is that both teams should forfeit their prime-time status on Martin Luther King Day next season. It was one of the rare NBA games that came down to the wire, and still was barely watchable.
It's a loss that won't make or break the Mavs' season, but it does feel like they left one on the table. Now, we'll see if they can bounce back against LA's real glamour team.
Who could've imagined that it would be easier to spot a Kardashian at a Clippers game?