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Mavs Donuts: 0-3 Behind, 7 Toughs Ahead
DONUT 1: FOREWARD ...
Coming off one of their worst defeats of the season, the Dallas Mavericks headed to Minnesota to partake in the season debut of Ricky Rubio. Things couldn't have started much better, as the Mavs burst from the gate to take a 13-point lead in the first quarter, but then they got Rubio'd, for lack of a better term.
It took nothing more than Rubio standing and walking to the scorer's table for the crowd to erupt, flooding the arena, and the Wolves team was supplied with a new energy. In no time, what had been a 13-point lead became a deficit that would grow to as large as 15 in the third quarter.
Behind a late surge keyed by Dominique Jones (you read that correctly), Dallas would fight its way back into a tie game at the end of regulation, before crumbling in overtime and falling by a final of 114-106.
DONUT 2: TAKE IT, TAKE ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE OF MY HEART ...
We went with the Red Hot Chili Peppers "Give It Away" after the Toronto game. After another turnover-riddled performance, we're turning to Janis Joplin.
Over the last three games, the Mavs have turned the ball over an average of 21.7 times (28, 17, 20), gifting their opponents an average of 26 points per game off of turnovers (34, 26, 18).
The last time the Dallas Mavericks turned the ball over at least 17 times in three consecutive games came in March … of 1998.
In that case, they did so in five straight. Let's hope the current streak ends at three.
Needless to say, the Mavs are 0-3 in these games, though they did manage to push two of the contests to overtime. Considering the hole they habitually dig, the fact that they have managed to scramble and claw their way into contested games in two of the three is impressive … just not impressive enough to earn a win.
DONUT 3: OLD MAN WINTER COMETH ...
With winter settling over the country, or trying to, Derek Fisher had his best game as a Maverick.
Fisher tied O.J. Mayo for the team lead in scoring with 20 points, needing only eight shots to get there.
By the way, the last time Fisher got 20 points? Dec. 20, 1998 for the Lakers, he had 27 in a loss.
It's disconcerting to see the father figure of the guards lead the team with five turnovers, but Fisher overcame those errors to play a significant role in getting his team back into this game, including a four-point play with 2:50 to play in regulation that put the Mavs up by two, their first lead since midway through the second quarter.
When he fouled out with 1:41 to play in the fourth period, joining Vince Carter, who picked up his sixth foul with 3:11 to play, the Mavs best hope may have been relegated to the bench.
DONUT 4: HELP FROM UNEXPECTED SOURCES ...
Derek Fisher played a significant role in the Mavs fourth-quarter push, as did Elton Brand (8 points, 4 rebounds in the fourth period), but the guy that seemed to change the look and feel of the game for Dallas was Dominique Jones.
After not seeing the court for the first three quarters, Jones played all but seven seconds of the fourth. His energy level and ability to penetrate the Wolves defense changed the game. He wasn't individually dominant -- four points, four rebounds and two assists in the period – and wasn't immune to key mistakes, but there's little doubt to those who watched that he changed the game and was integral to Dallas being able to force overtime.
Jones finished with six points, four rebounds, two assists and two turnovers.
Again, it wasn't the numbers … it was a feel.
DONUT 5: NOT A CLOSER? ...
Chris Kaman played almost 26 minutes, totaling 11 points on 5-of-12 field-goal attempts, six rebounds, two blocks, two steals and two turnovers.
Though he would get some minutes in overtime against the Wolves, it's hard not to notice that Rick Carlisle has seemed hesitant to turn to Kaman late in games. Including Saturday's contest against Minnesota, Kaman had failed to register a single fourth-quarter minute in five straight games.
Kaman vs. Pek? Is that not a battle that Dallas can win? Or at least make competitive down the stretch?
We'll address Kaman's suddenly shifting role in a Premium story coming Monday.
DONUT 6: LET'S TALK IT OUT ...
You can catch the details and the discussion items on the Dallas Mavericks' weekend with DallasBasketball.com Mavs fans just like you on DB.com Boards.
DONUT 7: BEST TO AVOID OVERTIME ...
This season, the Mavs are now 0-4 in games that head to overtime. This is a part of a greater streak that has seem the franchise lose seven consecutive overtime games … which comes directly on the heels of winning six straight.
Read what you will into that.
DONUT 8: STILL SOME FIGHT: ...
In the second quarter, Derek Fisher was at the receiving end of a hard screen set by Greg Stiemsma. The foul was called on Stiemsma, but Fisher didn't hesitate to show his disapproval of the play. Teammates held him back from the much larger Stiemsma, as Fisher held up three fingers and could clearly be seen saying, "That's three times" repeatedly.
Maybe it's just us, but despite the size advantage and age difference, we wouldn't completely discount the idea of Fisher holding his own were the two to actually tangle … Really, have you seen Fisher's arms?
DONUT 9: THE MATRIX, STILL ...
Shawn Marion finished the game with 14 points and 10 rebounds, his third consecutive double-double.
Marion has accomplished this feat once previously as a member of the Mavericks, in April of 2011, the Mavs championship season.
In 2011, the Mavs were 2-1 in those three games. Currently, they are mired in a three-game losing streak. Though ‘Trix may not have changed, it would seem the times have.
DONUT 10: DIRK AT WORK ...
Dirk Nowitzki was involved in pregame shooting drills for the second straight game night on Saturday and in our pregame show on Fox Sports Southwest, we showed exclusive footage of Dirk shooting and running drills in the gym while on the road.
This is, as Derek Harper noted, "a process.'' The next step in The UberMan's recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery is participation in practice, something that could occur this week.
Our best guess on a Nowitzki return? Sometime between Christmas and New Year's. We'll be at Monday's practice with our eye open to developments.
DONUT 11: TO SUMMARIZE ...
The Mavs took the court in the first quarter and quickly responded to their poor performance the night before against Toronto by playing with energy and aggression on their way to building a lead as large as 13 and scoring 32 points, their most in any quarter since the opening period against the Kings, three games previous.
Unfortunately, they then fell beneath the Ricky Rubio wave against a Wolves team playing without Kevin Love, and scored only 13 points in the second quarter, tying their lowest output for any quarter this season.
We fully believe that Rubio's appearance -- and this play specifically -- provided a tipping point:
To define this in another way, Dallas had made 12 of their first 18 shots (66.7 percent) with 40 seconds to go in the opening period, then hit only 4-of-21 (19 percent) from that moment until halftime.
That quickly, the game had changed. The quick start was forgotten, and the Mavs were forced once more to fight against their opponent and their own mistakes … ultimately coming up short in overtime.
As a reward, Dallas now enters what may be the toughest stretch of their schedule, which will bring the 76ers, Heat, Grizzlies, Spurs, Thunder, Nuggets and Spurs again … in that order.
The hope for Dirk Nowitzki's return draws nearer, perhaps towards the end of this lethal stretch … but things are likely to only get worse before they can find a breath and a chance to improve, making these losses to Boston, Toronto and Minnesota sting that much more.
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD ...
"Tough road trip. F' it. We will bounce back, let's get the next one.'' -- Shawn Marion on Twitter.