Shortly before tip-off of Tuesday nights Mavs/Spurs game it was announced that Tim Duncan wouldn't be playing. It appeared to be a lucky break for the Mavericks and an even bigger opportunity; instead, it became a major embarrassment.
Dallas came out flat while Tony Parker and the Spurs started the game ready to go. Dallas scored only 19 points in the first quarter which was almost single-handedly matched by Tony Parker's 18. Things only got worse when they scored only 14 in the third and 18 in the fourth. After 48 minutes, the Mavs had managed only 76 points and a 17 point loss.
It was the Mavs lowest scoring game of the season and a direct result of a horrible shooting night from the whole team. Dallas shot 34.2% from the field, also a season low. Dirk Nowitzki, in the middle of a mini-slump, shot just 5-15, and in his last three games has averaged 11.6 points on 32.6 percent shooting. Josh Howard led the team in scoring but missed 12 of his 17 shots.
The poor individual performances can't cover up the larger concern. Dallas now sits 8th in the Western Conference and against the seven teams above them in the standings they have just a 5-12 record. Their record looks even less promising when looking at their record against those teams on the road. Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News has the break down.
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"Nine teams are jockeying for eight playoff spots. The Mavericks are [3-8] on the road against those other eight teams.
...The trend extends even further. The Mavericks are [4-14] on the road against the best in the West since Jason Kidd's arrival last February."
For a team whose hopeful playoff future will most likely include a first round series played without homecourt advantage, the track record isn't just discouraging, it's deflating.
Rick Carlisle summed up the Spurs game succinctly and accurately in his postgame interview. "We needed to do a lot better," he said. That applies to the rest of the season as well.