Mavs Fall to Rockets 117-115, Split Season Series 2-2

By Darreck Kirby
PSDC Dallas Mavericks Beat Writer

We might not have reached the All-Star break just yet, but we’ve seen the last of the Dallas Mavericks v. Houston Rockets – barring a playoff matchup. The fact that Dallas’ late surge fell just short of taking the season series 3-1 against the Rockets raises countless questions about the identity of this ball club. How is it that a team so dangerously close to falling even to the .500 mark has played so well against one of the Western Conference’s better teams? It’s hard to say, but one of the main factors obviously has to be the absence of James Harden in the third and fourth contests of this series.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

James Harden is a flat out stud on the offensive end of the floor, there’s no denying that. And even with his defensive shortcomings he’s still a huge factor in any game plan. Still, Houston has already played without its franchise player eight times this season, so it’s not like this is terribly new to them. Plus, having guys like Dwight Howard and Chandler Parsons will keep you in contention with anybody in this league. With that in mind, it’s safe to say this points to the Mavs’ defensive woes and age as their primary nemesis as they now fall to 26-21 on the year.

The Mavericks staged a furious rally in the final two-plus minutes of this game, nearly erasing a 16-point deficit as time expired. But Dallas had their chances. When their run was at 11-1, Dirk got a good look at a 3, and was clearly hit on the hand despite the no-call, which resulted in a deflating air ball. But Even then the basketball gods gifted Dallas with a final opportunity, granting them possession at mid-court with 19.2 seconds to play, and trailing by just two. So what does Dallas do? Run a quick pick and roll with Dirk and Calderon, pitch it to the big man at the stripe with 10 seconds to play, and then wait until the double team forces the ball out of his hands. Yes, Calderon’s three-point look was a clean one, but I hate that mentality there. With playmakers like Devin Harris, Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki on the floor, you don’t kick it to your spot up shooter with 10 seconds to play.

First, that’s too much time to leave on the board considering how poor your defense is this year. And second, why go for the win at all there? All you need is two points. Take the high percentage shot! Dirk had 38 and 17, those numbers don’t come around every day for the big German. It’s worth noting that Calderon hustled after the lose ball and even got another decent look before the final buzzer sounded, but the Mavs had a timeout remaining, and if he’d held the ball for another moment or so I’m willing to bet Carlisle would have drawn up something better than a desperate, off-balance heave.

In the end this proved to be just one of many, many wasted opportunities for the Mavericks this season. And if they aren’t careful, these games are going to come back to haunt them, denying them a postseason birth for the second consecutive year.

For more news and updates on the Dallas Mavericks, follow Darreck on Twitter @DarreckWKirby

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