January 15, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) attempts a three point basket against the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Mavericks Meltdown Highlights Defensive Woes


January 15, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin (32) goes for a rebound against Dallas Mavericks small forward Shawn Marion (0) and center DeJuan Blair (45) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

 

This one hurts. Bad.

Even the most skeptical NBA fans feel confident when their team has a 17 point lead with under 5 minutes to play. I’m not sure I ever will again, at least with this team.

After trailing by 10 at the break and allowing the Clippers (27-13) to shoot nearly 57% from the field, Dallas (23-17) showed tremendous resilience by battling back in the  second half. The first seven minutes  of the 4th quarter convinced me I had made the right decision to stay up late and watch the good guys take out of one of the best teams in the West. If only I knew what we had planned for the closing act. A colossal collapse is the nicest description possible, I think.

After a Brandan Wright made free throw at the 4:48 mark in the 4th quarter, the Mavs led 123-106. Commence the disaster and destruction. Cold shooting, dumb fouls, and poor perimeter defense gave Los Angeles the opportunity they needed to get back in the game. They sure took advantage of it, too.

A few three pointers and several Jamal Crawford free throws later left Dallas wondering how they let another big lead get away in a 129-127 loss. The Clippers are now the fourth team to overcome a 17-point lead against the Mavs to win, joining Atlanta, Golden State, and Toronto.

Yes, the great Dirk Nowitzki missed some shots at the end that could have saved the day, but sometimes your shots just don’t fall and that’s basketball. He still finished with 27 points and 8 boards, by the way. Yes, the last-minute foul call on Shawn Marion that sent Crawford to the line for the go-ahead free throw was clearly questionable, but we should have never been in that situation in the first place.

I’ll point the finger at our porous defense once again, as I’ve been doing for most of the season. According to ESPN’s NBA Team Statistics, Dallas is now 22nd in the league in defensive efficiency and 24th in opponent field goal percentage. We  allowed the Clippers to finish the game on an 11-0 run and somehow made J.J. Redick look like a superstar(career-high 33 points, 10-of-14 shooting). This defense needs help and I don’t think a healthy Devin Harris will make too much of a difference.

Our trusty owner said last week that the “Bank of Cuban” is always open. Let’s hope he’s serious or we might be flirting with that dreaded 9-seed for the rest of the season.

Tags: Dallas Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki Mark Cuban Shawn Marion