Mavs: Hard to Be Hungry When You’re Still Full

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, December 30th, 2011

by SCOTT ROZSA
srozsa@sportspagedallas.com

 

If it was intentional, then the guy who plays all the music during Dallas Mavericks home games is a comedic genius.

As the whistle blew to announce a time out late in the third quarter, he cranked Bell Biv Devoe’s hit from 1990, “Poison.” The tune fit like a glove as the Mavs were down 31 points to the Denver Nuggets and getting ran out of their own gym in much the same way as the 1990 version of the Mavericks – a squad that finished with a catatonic 28-54 record – were routinely trampled.

WHERE’D OUR TEAM GO?
We’re just through two of a truncated season’s sixty-six regular season games, and a pair of blowout losses and a roster featuring several new players that look lost are already obscuring the memories of last season’s championship. Mavs fans have watched their beloved Tyson Chandler backstop a stirring win on Christmas Day over Boston with his new Knicks teammates. They’ve read about the leadership and offensive punch off the bench that J.J. Barea – the spark plug that ignited the tepid Dallas offense in last year’s Finals – is providing for a spunky young Minnesota team.

In a way, once owner Mark Cuban and general manager Donnie Nelson made the financial decisions not to bring last year’s band back to defend their title as a complete unit, the 2011-12 season became less a victory lap around the league, and more a place holder for next summer when the franchise will have a bevy of cap space for the first time in seemingly forever, and thus the ability to pursue big name free agents and potential trade partners. Management is asking MFFLs to be patient trust them as they are doing what they believe is best for the future of the franchise.

And if you’re still feeling angry as the losses pile up, just look to the rafters and let the banner remind you of the magic of last June.

However, fans’ patience is clearly already being tested as, during their blowout loss to the Nuggets last Monday night, Twitter was already blowing up with people wondering if the Mavs still owned their first round pick in the 2012 draft (Actually, they traded it to the Lakers in the Odom deal, but it is protected).

In fact, it took just six quarters for the crowd to turn completely on their team and unleash a loud chorus of boos as Denver ripped off a 20-0 run to end the second half and send the Mavericks limping to the locker room down 69-42. Dallas had managed just a single offensive rebound in the first half, while giving up innumerable Nugget forays to the rim.

NEW GUYS GOTTA SHOW UP
If head coach Rick Carlisle is to get this team refocused and back near the top of the standings, he will have to receive far more from the players who filled in the roster spots that Chandler, Barea, Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson vacated.

After a pair of games, supposed savior Lamar Odom has as many technical fouls as he does baskets (2) and has looked moody, lethargic and detached from his new teammates. He’s averaging just 5.0 PPG and is shooting 12.5% from the field.

Not to be outdone, the pair of new shooting guards brought in to replace Butler has been equally putrid. Vince Carter, who announced his presence in the opening minute of his first game in Dallas with an air ball and a missed lay-up, is shooting under 42% from the field and seems far more comfortable launching lazy threes than driving and putting pressure on the defense. As a result, he was stripped of his starting position after one game. Delonte West appears just as lost on the court and is connecting on a lowly 33% of his FG attempts.

Before we all pronounce the Mavericks dead, remember that essentially, the players are still in training camp. They’re still getting to know one another and learn Carlisle’s system. Defensive guru Dwane Casey has gone to Toronto, and apparently he took all of Dallas’ mojo on the defensive end with him. It obviously will take time to rebuild cohesion on both sides of the ball.

I’m giving them 12 games – just under one-fifth of the schedule – to regain the intensity and hunger that was clearly lost celebrating a title in the off-season, before passing judgment.

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