You live by the jump-shot, you … as a Mavs fan, you know the rest.
That’s two home games that Dallas has died by not taking the ball to the basket, instead settling for long jumpers that clanged off the rim at the buzzer. I’m not saying the Mavs have resorted to their old DNA of being a soft, jump-shooting team, but the results are certainly screaming it.
Last Wednesday Dirk Nowitzki had the final possession against Minnesota, but forced an 18-foot jumper that missed left and long. And last night against the Nets, Monta Ellis dribbled and dribbled and dribbled some more before launching a 27-footer that bounced violently off the back rim to force overtime in a game Dallas lost, 107-104.
I know those are makable shots — and the Mavs have the right people taking them — but wouldn’t you like to see something headed toward the hoop in an aggressive attitude in those situations? Me too.
The 8-game homestand that had the potential to secure a playoff berth is off to a disappointing 2-2 start with the Thunder and Clippers now rolling in. With 11 games remaining in the regular season, the Mavs are suddenly clinging to the 8th and last playoff spot in the West.
And, let’s face it, they won’t make the postseason if Dirk doesn’t play better.
In a game in which Jose Calderon left in the first possession after taking an inadvertent elbow to the nose and Sam Dalembert awakened for 15 rebounds and 7 blocks, Nowitzki was awful. Against Minnesota he was only 11 of 27 including a miss on the potential game-winner. And against the Nets and old friend Jason Kidd he was worse, missing 10 of his 12 shots.
The killer was with the Mavs up two in the final minute. Dirk sized up 6-foot-7 defender Shaun Livingston, backed him down and then launched his trademark Flamingo Fadeaway that … hit nothing but hardwood. Yep, an air ball in crunchtime. Joe Johnson tied the game at the other end, Ellis missed to force overtime and just like that the Mavs have another home loss in another game they led by 14 points.
Simply put, it was one of the worst game of Dirk’s 16-year career.
“I’ve got to make shots,” he told reporters in the postgame locker room. “I’ve just got to swallow this one and keep working.”
If Dirk isn’t clicking, the Mavs have no shot. And if Dallas settles for jumpers, there won’t be any postseason.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.