Dallas Mavericks: 2012 Playoffs: Mavs-Thunder

DALLAS -- Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, perhaps sick of hearing that the franchise made a mistake by not re-signing center Tyson Chandler, suggested that the big man wouldn't have made much of a difference for Dallas this season.

In Nelson's opinion, the Mavs still wouldn't have been good enough to get past the young, improved Oklahoma City squad that just dismissed the defending champions with a first-round sweep.

"There’s no fans bigger of Tyson Chandler than the guys in that locker room and the guys in the management staff," Nelson said. "We understand what he brings to the table. But we also would not have won that series had he been here. We might have won more games, we might have put ourselves in a better position, but there’s no question that they’re a better team.

"We’d be sitting here today and you guys would be telling me, ‘Man, you guys are all locked up with no place to go and no flexibility, blah, blah, blah.' So it’s just what it is."

Nelson's take is not a consensus opinion throughout the organization. Shawn Marion's eyebrows shot up above his designer shades when informed that Nelson didn't think Chandler could have made a difference in the series.

"He really just said that?" Marion asked. "Tyson does things out there a lot of guys don't do in this league. Even if he's not scoring all the time, but it's just his presence out there, his demeanor, it can carry to wins."

Could it have carried to four wins in a series over this season's Thunder? We'll never know, but the Mavs' front office doesn't think so.

3-pointer: Is Brendan Haywood on way out?

May, 6, 2012
5/06/12
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DALLAS -- Last week Charles Barkley joined ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Galloway & Co. and said adding Deron Williams alone to complement Dirk Nowitzki won't be enough to return the Dallas Mavericks among the Western Conference contenders.

Barkley said Nowitzki needs a big man in the middle.

After the Mavs went from championship to swept Saturday at the hands of the young Oklahoma City Thunder, Jason Terry, who might not be back with the team after eight seasons, said Nowitzki has plenty left in the tank, but that the Mavs must get him interior help.

"Dirk's so wonderfully amazing with his ability to play the game at high level night in and night out with the defenses that he faces," Terry said. "But, again, for Dirk to be successful and go to where we went to last year he has to have an active big to play alongside him. He has to. And he knows it. So, if he's involved in any kind of decisions I know that's what he's going to be looking for."

The comments by Barkley and Terry certainly sound like indictments of Mavs starting center Brendan Haywood, who had a miserable series and still has three guaranteed years and some $28 million remaining on his contract.

Haywood played a series-high 25 minutes, most of which came after Thunder center Kendrick Perkins left in the first quarter with a right hip strain. Yet, the 7-foot Haywood could only muster four points and four rebounds. He played a total of 36 minutes in the first three games and was benched to start the second half in Games 2 and 3.

In Game 4, the Mavs' interior defense was laughable, particularly in the fourth quarter when the Thunder scored 20 of their 35 points in the paint with the majority coming from James Harden. He drove past Dallas' guards at will and met little resistance as he attacked the lane and then the rim for 15 fourth-quarter points. He scored one fewer point in the quarter than the entire Mavs team.

Haywood played just the first 4:33 of the fourth quarter, long enough for Harden to put in six points and to be whistled for an offensive foul away from the ball. Ian Mahinmi finished out the game with little effectiveness on the defensive end to slow Harden. Mahinmi, who will become a free agent, did have 10 points and five rebounds in 14 minutes.

Because of his uninspired play during this brief series, the man who backed up Tyson Chandler last season and played just 25 minutes in the NBA Finals because of a hip injury sustained in Game 2 could fall victim to the amnesty clause this summer. It would allow the Mavs to rid their books of Haywood's remaining contract heading into next season. Shawn Marion is also a candidate for the amnesty clause, but the forward's value, particularly on the defensive end this season, can not be understated.

Although Carlisle twice went to Mahinmi to start the second half, the coach kept Haywood in the starting lineup all four games. It's uncertain at the moment if Haywood will be back in the starting lineup next season -- or back at all.

Here's three more things to consider as the Mavs head into a long offseason:

1. Half man, half awful: Vince Carter certainly had some moments this season and he even delivered a vintage jam in Game 4. But all in all, the Carter experiment didn't pan out. He had an abysmal series shooting the basketball. He made 3-of-10 shots in Game 4 and for the series he made 12-of-41 shots (29.3 percent). Carter did make 2-of-3 buckets from beyond the arc on Saturday, but he was 3-of-10 for the series. Carter is likely one of the few players that will return next season. He's under contract for the next two seasons.

2. Quiet Delonte West: He certainly provided Mavs fans with some entertaining play and antics, both on and off the court, this season, but his playoff series didn't leave much of a mark. West came off the bench for the first time in the series in Game 4 and had just two points and three assists in 18 minutes. West endured the unfortunate dislocation and fracture of his right ring finger in February and missed six weeks. As a free-agent-to-be, West said he hopes he's proven to the league that he's trustworthy of signing a multi-year deal. If that is the case, he will likely be signing somewhere other than Dallas.

3. What's next for Roddy B?: Rodrigue Beaubois played a grand total of 12 minutes in the four-game sweep. He got into Game 2 as something of an emergency sub when the Mavs fell behind by 16 points in the second quarter. It's been another rough season for third-year guard after coming back from a second foot surgery last summer. He said he can't be sure he'll be back with the Mavs -- he could be trade bait to create cap room if needed -- but Beaubois is excited to be healthy for the first time in three summers and capable of working out and working on his game. With the possibility that Terry, Jason Kidd and West won't be back, there could be real opportunity for Beaubois if the Mavs still believe he can be a contributor to the future of the franchise.

Jason Kidd thinks Nets about to make 'splash'

May, 6, 2012
5/06/12
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DALLAS -- Deron Williams is in a powerful position. The perennial All-Star point guard holds the futures of two franchises in the palm of his hands as he is set to become a free agent on July 1.

Could Williams' destination also be the final stop for Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd, also a free-agent-to-be as he attempts to play two more years and take his career a full 20 seasons?

Kidd on Saturday reiterated his interest in playing with Williams and also had some interesting insights into the fortunes of the new Brooklyn Nets.

“I think going to Brooklyn brings a lot of attention,” Kidd said. “The last professional team there was the Dodgers, so I think they’re going to be very excited. And then with the Russian owner [Mikhail Prokhorov], I mean, he’s not short on money so I think they’re going to go out and make a splash.”

Kidd, who ended this season on a personal high with 16 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in 38 minutes, said he would like to sign a two-year contract to take him through a 20th season at age 41. He reiterated his interest in taking a backup role to the 27-year-old Williams, who hails from the Dallas area. Kidd and Williams share the same agent, Jeff Schwartz, and Kidd said he and Williams would get together on the golf course during the offseason.

“What’s wrong with that? That’s not a bad guy to help out,” Kidd said. “If it comes to that would not be a bad situation. I know I wouldn’t have to play 30 minutes.”

Kidd said he will listen to Mavs owner Mark Cuban first and that he expects to agree to terms with a team shortly after the July 1 start to the free agency period.

"We'll see what happens and we'll see what the Mavs are talking about first and we'll go from there," Kidd said.

Read the full story here.

Jason Terry on repeat: 'It was a long shot'

May, 5, 2012
5/05/12
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DALLAS -- If guard Jason Terry has played his final game with the Dallas Mavericks, he will leave feeling he and the remaining members of the championship team didn't get a fair shot to repeat.

Terry was the most vocal Mavs player throughout the season regarding owner Mark Cuban's decision not to re-sign key free agents from last season's championship team because of changes to the collective bargaining agreement. After being swept out of the first round by the rising Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night, Terry, a free-agent-to-be for the first time in his career, said the personnel on this team wasn't good enough to contend.

"Every year I’ve been on the Mavericks team and we’ve had a realistic chance, it’s because of the personnel," Terry said. "Look at your personnel and what they surround you with, your core nucleus, and you can see if you have a realistic shot. For us, it was a long shot. Nobody’s going to downplay that at all. If you look at our roster to a man, it was a long shot this year. But we still made the playoffs, but we just didn’t have enough."

Terry said Cuban knows that this team didn't have a fighting chance to contend.

"Yeah, he knows it, the city knows, we all know it as players," Terry said. "But with the team we have, the nucleus we have, the core group of guys, we feel like we can beat anybody, that’s just us as competitors. But, again, you have to have the personnel. You have to have the personnel to get it done."

Cuban maintained from early in the season to as recently as right before the playoffs that this team was better than the one that bulldozed through the Trail Blazers, Lakers, Thunder and Heat to win the franchise's first title in 31 seasons. Cuban, citing changes to the CBA that focused his team-building strategy on cap space for the coming summer, did not bring back defensive-minded center and team leader Tyson Chandler, penetrating point guard J.J. Barea and gritty defender and 3-point shooter DeShawn Stevenson, among others.

Prior to Saturday's Game 4, Cuban said he had no regrets about not bringing back the title team and said he fielded the best possible team he could given the constraints of the new CBA.

The Mavs' key acquisitions included Vince Carter in the twilight of his career and Lamar Odom, whose emotional baggage got the best of him and forced Cuban to kick him off the team.

Asked if he believed last year's title team would have had a legitimate shot to repeat if left intact, Terry initially said he didn't know before quickly changing his tune.

"I do. Why not?" Terry said. "That’s the team I wanted, so I believe we’d be just as good as anybody. But you can hope and wish and think about that all you want, but the reality of it is the season’s over and we’ve got the future to look forward to. Thank God for my health and my family."

Terry received support from longtime teammate Dirk Nowitzki after the game. Nowitzki has mostly toed the company line when it came to talking about not bringing back the team.

“Knowing as players, we were for sure disappointed in December in free agency when we didn’t get the same team back,” Nowitzki said. “That’s for sure.”

Now Terry, after eight seasons in Dallas, and the Mavs head toward a crossroads this summer. Terry, 34, will likely be seeking a new home to end his career as the Mavs face an overhaul of the roster and their most uncertain future in Cuban's dozen years as owner.

"You know we like to make changes year-in and year-out, but not a complete overhaul," Terry said. "That’s what this is going to be, an entire different ballclub I would expect. But, the formula is there, the formula’s there. We set the bar very high last year with what we did and what we accomplished. They know the formula and it’s on them to put it back together."

Pregame buzz: Rick Carlisle to free agency?

May, 5, 2012
5/05/12
6:17
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DALLAS -- With the prospect of the Mavericks playing their final game of the 2011-12 season, coach Rick Carlisle is coming to the end of his four-year contract.

It figured to be a slam dunk that Carlisle would sign an extension after last season's championship, much like the five-year extension that owner Mark Cuban granted to Avery Johnson after leading the franchise to its first NBA Finals appearance in 2006.

The extension has never come and outside of president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, who has continually said that Carlisle isn't going anywhere, just bringing up the concept of a new deal has been considered taboo.

Carlisle has declined to talk about it all season. Same with Cuban. And that continued Saturday evening prior to the do-or-die Game 4 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

"I don’t talk about free-agent coaches or otherwise," Cuban said while pounding away on his step machine. "Been that way for 11 or 12 years."

The Miami Heat awarded Erik Spoelstra with a new deal early this season.

So what would have been the harm of locking up Carlisle already? Owners couldn't negotiate, let alone communicate, with players during the lockout, but there was no gag order in place keeping ownership from negotiating with coaches.

"Want to have a long discussion about business?" Cuban said. "It’s my approach to business. It's worked out really, really well for me and I just want to be consistent."

Kendrick Perkins: Haywood not himself

May, 5, 2012
5/05/12
2:00
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DALLAS -- Scowling Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins has seen very little of heavyweight counterpart Brendan Haywood in this series. Whether that's Perkins taking Haywood out of the game or Haywood taking himself out is a point of debate, perhaps.

But Perkins said he thinks something is not right with the Dallas Mavericks big man who has played a total of 36 minutes in the first three games of the series.

"Brendan’s a good player, man. I remember when he was with the Wizards he was averaging a double-double, so you just never know," Perkins said. "Could be body aching, it could be a mental thing. But I know he’s not himself lately, so I don’t know exactly what’s going on, but I know he’s not himself. But, you know, you got times where you go through stretches like that."

Haywood has averaged just 3.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in the limited time he's been on the floor. He started Game 3 with a bit of a flurry, being active on the offensive boards and slamming in a putback. But then came some butterfingers, and Haywood's night quickly came to end. In the series he's made just 3-of-11 shots.

The problem for Dallas is it just doesn't have much beef behind him. Ian Mahinmi has played well but doesn't provide much muscle, and Brandan Wright has been a virtual no-show when he's been on the floor.

Perhaps Haywood is not fully healthy. He twisted his left ankle on March 5 and then upon his return he sprained his right knee March 15 and was out until March 30. He's worn a brace ever since.

"I don’t know," Perkins said. "I see like two knee braces on, two knee things on, and I don’t know what’s wrong with him. We’re just out there trying to win and I know that he’s capable of doing more than he’s been giving, so it only takes one game to really get your confidence going."

W2W4: Have Mavs reached blow-it-up phase?

May, 5, 2012
5/05/12
1:00
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DALLAS -- For years prior to winning the title last season, the debate has raged: Should Mark Cuban blow up the Mavericks?

Well, that point might actually be upon the Mavs' owner as his club faces the prospects of being swept out of the first round of the playoffs on the heels of winning it all. Not exactly the way a defending champion wants to go out, but it's a path that Cuban can't claim will have come as a total shock.

The owner decided to dismantle the title team and play the free-agent game in the summer. And once this season comes to a close, whether it melts away tonight or in Game 5 in Oklahoma City on Monday or somewhere stays alive beyond the that, the names on the jerseys are going to change.

Check out the list of names that could be making their final appearances tonight:

* Shawn Marion
* Brendan Haywood
* Delonte West
* Jason Kidd
* Jason Terry
* Rodrigue Beaubois
* Ian Mahinmi
* Brian Cardinal
* Dominique Jones
* Yi Jianlian

The only player guaranteed to be back is Dirk Nowitzki. A few guys would seem likely to be back, such as Vince Carter, who has two more years left on his deal, Brandan Wright, who the Mavs would figure to pick up the team option, and Kelenna Azubuike, who they acquired late in the season and have under contract for next season.

Otherwise it's wide open, and much will depend on where super free-agent-to-be Deron Williams lands. It will be a busy July around here. The Mavs would like to at least keep things going a bit longer in May.

Series: Oklahoma City Thunder leads, 3-0

When: 6:30 p.m.

Where: American Airlines Center

TV: TNT/TXA 21

Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: Level of play. Coach Rick Carlisle continued to emphasize Saturday morning that the Mavs' effort was up to snuff in Game 3 and that it was their level of play that let them down. In that case, the Mavs' season must hinge on whether they can make baskets, hold onto the basketball and keep the Thunder from making more baskets. If they do that, then they should win and extend the series.

Key matchup: Kevin Durant vs. Shawn Marion
As terrific as Marion's defense was on Durant in the first two games, Durant got off early in Game 3 and scored 21 of his 31 points in the first half. Needless to say, that can't happen again. Marion will turn 34 on Monday. Depending on how well he can defend Durant tonight will determine if he's celebrating another year in Oklahoma City before a Game 5 or while on vacation.

Injuries: Thunder -- G Eric Maynor (torn right ACL) is out. Mavs -- None.

Up next: Game 5 -- Mavs at Thunder, 7 p.m. Monday (if necessary)

Jason Terry: 'Tyson ain't coming back'

May, 5, 2012
5/05/12
12:00
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DALLAS -- The Mavericks tried to convince themselves all season that they didn't miss Tyson Chandler. They pointed to defensive statistics that suggested they were actually better on that end this season.

But, really, what else were they supposed to do? It wasn't the players' decision to allow Chandler, this season's Defensive Player of the Year with the New York Knicks, to walk.

But now facing a sweep at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team without a dominant big man and the Mavs still unable to take advantage with starting center Brendan Haywood mostly anchored to the bench, the truth starts to come out.

Actually, Jason Terry suggested that the truth has always been on the front burner.

"We’ve been saying that all season," Terry said. "That hasn’t got us anywhere but the seventh seed and the hole we’re in now. Tyson ain’t coming back, and we’ve realized that. I definitely say he had a great season -- Defensive Player of the Year. But it’s a presence you’ve missed -- an active big man that can cover ground. And so we don’t have that. We try to find other ways to win with the group we have."

Is Jason Terry preparing for farewell?

May, 5, 2012
5/05/12
11:20
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DALLAS -- "No question," was Jason Terry's response when asked if he's thinking that tonight's Game 4 could be his last wearing a Dallas Mavericks uniform.

"All that’s on the line and all those thoughts are there," Terry said. "And that means more of a reason why I want to come out and play well tonight and get the win."

It's been a wild eight-year run in Dallas for Terry, who was acquired in 2004 in a no-win situation to take over for the beloved Steve Nash. It didn't help that Nash and the Suns eliminated the Mavs in the second round with the former Mavs point guard nailing a huge 3-point shot with Terry playing off of him and Dirk Nowitzki then giving his new teammate an earful.

Bygones are bygones. That's what winning a title will do for you. That was just 11 months ago, and now here the Mavs are, not only staring down first-round elimination, but a sweep at the hands of the youthful Oklahoma City Thunder.

"But no excuses," Terry said. "Come out here tonight. If we get one it's going to get scary. The pressure is on them."

Terry played the pressure card, trying to sound convincing that team up 3-0 in the series is actually shouldering the pressure. Terry said he's also been taking other measures to help get Dallas a win and begin to turn this thing around.

"I broke every broom in the house, so that’s a little superstition so I don’t think there will be any sweeps going on," Terry said. "I’ve got the black shoes on for tonight. I wanted to wear the gold ones, but they (the NBA) banned them. We’re going to try the black suit thing -- the funeral -- and we just hope it ain't ours."

After his red-hot start to the series, Terry has not been a factor, averaging 14.7 points and 4.0 assists. He's had trouble breaking free for open looks, particularly when guarded by 23-year-old Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook.

"The pressure is on them all the way," Terry said. "They're kind of young. They might not realize it, but it’s there, and hopefully they’ll feel it during the game because it’s hard to close a team out. And then if you do lose, then what? Now you start to think about it a little bit. Not a situation (down 3-0) we want to be in, but we’ll take it at this point."

Will Rick Carlisle sit Brendan Haywood tonight?

May, 5, 2012
5/05/12
10:30
AM CT
DALLAS -- Mavericks backup center Ian Mahinmi has been the most productive center Dallas has put on the floor against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and that isn't saying much.

Mahinmi has averaged 6.3 and 4.3 rebounds in 18.7 minutes. In Games 2 and 3, he started the second half over disappointing big man Brendan Haywood.

Will coach Rick Carlisle opt to go with the more agile and active Mahinmi as the starter in tonight's do-or-die Game 4 at American Airlines Center? Haywood's minutes have dwindled in the series from 19 to 10 to seven in Game 3. He's averaged three points and three boards.

Carlisle stuck to his guns and wouldn't discuss his plans for tonight.

"I’m not going to talk about lineups this morning," Carlisle said after the Mavs' morning shootaround. "That’s my policy, stay consistent with it. It’s been three years, 11 months and 22 days, or whatever, but you know, it’s not about tweaking this or that, it’s about playing better, playing a better overall game and that’s what we’re going to do."

Dirk Nowitzki needs a big night for survival

May, 5, 2012
5/05/12
8:30
AM CT


DALLAS -- There's a Dallas Mavericks postseason refrain that is as true now as ever heading into tonight's do-or-die Game 4 against the Oklahoma City Thunder: Dirk Nowitzki must be great to have a chance to win.

Nowitzki certainly hasn't been bad in the first three games of this now lopsided series in the favor of the rising Thunder. But Dirk hasn't been Finals MVP worthy either, especially in the Game 3 wipeout when he had just 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting. He had just two buckets in the second half, and everyone knows that's not going to cut it.

The 17 points is another example of how dominant Dirk was last postseason in leading Dallas to the title. In 21 postseason games, he posted just two games of less than 20 points. He scored 17 in Game 4 against the Lakers and 18 in Game 3 against the Thunder in the West finals.

It also exemplifies the scoring help he received throughout the postseason because the Mavs won both of those games. When he scored 25 and 31 in the first two games in this first-round series, respectively, Dallas took those games down to the wire, and if Nowitzki hits an open 3-pointer or a 12-foot baseline fallaway in crunch time, the Mavs win Game 2.

But when he scored 17 in Game 3, the Mavs were nowhere near the lead beyond a few minutes early in the third quarter.

Nowitzki is one of just four players in NBA history with career playoff averages of at least 25 points and 10 rebounds. He might not reach either mark this postseason. He enters Game 4 with a scoring average of 24.3 points, his lowest mark since the 2007 Golden State flop when he averaged 19.7 points on less than 40 percent shooting. His 6.7 rebounds per game is the lowest of his career, and he'll have to do some heavy-duty work to match his previous low of 8.1 from last season and 2001.

Forget about the rebounds, the Mavs desperately need the scoring. And it might take a 40-point night tonight like he twice recorded in five games against OKC in the West finals to keep Dallas' season alive.

"That’s something I can help with," coach Rick Carlisle said. "I think we can do more play-calling if we have to. When we were in our flow stuff (Thursday) night we didn’t do a good job, and that’s one of the areas where we’ve been one of the better teams in the league. And when that happens I’ve got to make sure we have the right kind of structure in the game. I allowed to let the guys keep playing because we’ve been able to play our way out of some rough spots this year and in the first two games. It didn’t work out that way. I’m going to study it hard. I don’t want to over-study it, but I’ve got to have the right pulse on what’s going on out there."

Derek Fisher to Mavs: Getting swept no fun

May, 4, 2012
5/04/12
4:18
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DALLAS -- In 11 previous postseasons, Dirk Nowitzki has never been the victim of the broom.

That streak could end Saturday night if the Dallas Mavericks don't find a way to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 4. If a sweep happens, Thunder guard Derek Fisher warned the Mavs to be prepared for it to sting beyond this summer.

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Charles Barkley explains how he always knew Father Time would catch up with the Mavs. He also says Deron Williams alone won't help the Mavs win a title.

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"Having been there before, yes, and I don’t know if it only lasts for one summer," Fisher said Friday. "You just never forget not finding a way to win a game in a playoff series."

Fisher said he still thinks about last season's sweep with the Lakers at the hands of a Mavs team that played brilliantly in that series, but looks quite a bit different today.

"It’s tough to compare teams on a year to year basis, but I think it speaks to how you obviously need your stars to be stars," Fisher said. "You need Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry and Shawn Marion, guys that have been All-Stars, Jason Kidd’s a Hall of Famer, you need those guys to be who they are, and I think by and large they have been. But there’s no way to overstate the importance of those other guys, the importance of guys that are willing to sacrifice shots and playing time and individual success for what’s best for the team.

"So when you think about Tyson Chandler, a guy like a Deshawn Stevenson who added toughness and 3-point shooting last year, J.J. Barea, Peja [Stojakovic] being a veteran guy that had been on successful teams before, you throw all that in the pie, those are key guys to miss. When you’re trying to replace the type of guys they lost last season and then unfortunately for a guy I care about, Lamar Odom, having that situation going on throughout the year, I think it’s been tougher for them to find the type of chemistry and cohesiveness they had last season, this season."

Fisher said even with the 3-0 lead, he's not discounting a last-stand by the defending champs.

"They still have championship DNA, and until this thing is over one way or another I’m not going to assume that these guys are ready to ride into the sunset," Fisher said. "We’re going to have to eliminate this team. They’re not going to hand us advancing to the next round."
DALLAS -- If you were stunned by this offensive stinker, you must not have watched the Mavs much this season.

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This has been a bad offensive team since the day the defending champions -- might as well use that term while we can -- reported to the American Airlines Center for an abbreviated training camp.

Dallas’ decision makers anticipated that it would be a difficult process to fit in a few significant new pieces without much practice time, but the hope was that the Mavs would mesh throughout the course of this lockout-condensed season and be prepared to peak in the playoffs.

Pfft.

With the season on the line, the Mavs managed to come up with one of their worst offensive showings, shooting 34.2 percent from the floor in Thursday’s 95-79 loss that put Dallas on the verge of being swept by the Thunder.

“Just picked a bad time to really put a stinker out there,” said Dirk Nowitzki, who had 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting. “Nobody really had a good game for us. They took it to us on the other end. We picked a tough time to really get nothing going on the offensive end.”

That’s happened a heck of a lot this season, which is why the Mavs ranked 22nd among NBA teams in offensive efficiency. To put that in perspective, the Boston Celtics are the only playoff team that was less efficient offensively than the Mavs.

The versatile pieces that Mark Cuban and Co. expected to make Dallas a more dynamic offensive team haven’t panned out. Lamar Odom provided plenty of drama and precious little production. Vince Carter faded after the All-Star break and has really struggled in this series, making only nine of 31 shots from the floor.

The Mavs’ big guns have had off seasons by their standards. Nowitzki’s numbers are his worst since his second season in Dallas, before the Mavs’ run of a dozen playoff appearances in a row. Jason Terry’s stats are his worst in his eight-season Dallas tenure.

When one of those guys struggles, it’s tough for the Mavs to win. When they’re both off, it’s bound to get ugly.

That was the case in Game 3, when Nowitzki was bad and Terry was worse (11 points, 3-of-10 shooting, four turnovers).

“They played great defense all night long on Dirk and myself,” Terry said. “We’ve got to find a way. I think our offensive strategy right now is pretty much predicated on pass the ball around and see what happens. I don’t think that’s a good strategy for us.”

He’ll get no argument from coach Rick Carlisle: “I’ve got to do a better job of helping those guys. That’s something I really take responsibility for.”

Carlisle said something about watching film and trying to get this fixed. The truth is it’s too late for this season, and there’s a good chance Terry is gone next year.

If the Mavs want to get back to being a good offensive team, they better catch their big fish in the free-agency market.

For the sake of Dallas’ recruiting efforts, let’s hope Deron Williams was too busy to watch Game 3.

Brendan Haywood brings big bag of nothing

May, 4, 2012
5/04/12
10:02
AM CT
DALLAS -- The Mavericks' center position has hit rock bottom with Brendan Haywood serving as the anchor.

Haywood was benched for the start of the second half of Thursday's Game 3 blowout loss just as he was for Game 2. His minutes have dwindled from 19 in Game 1 to 10 in Game 2 to seven in Game 3, his lowest total of the season outside a game at Oklahoma City that he left in the first minute with an injury.

On Thursday, Haywood started strong with an offensive rebound and a putback, but that was it. He finished his seven minutes with three points and two rebounds. In the three games he's averaged 3.0 points on 27.3 percent shooting (3-of-11 from the floor) and 3.0 rebounds.

"Look, it’s tough, it’s tough," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "He’s an important guy to us and I’m not saying we’re bailing on him or anything like that. We’re going to look at the film and see what’s what. He did some good things early in the game, but we dug a hole and we needed a different kind of player in there. Look, he’ll be ready to play on Saturday as well."

Haywood had no interest in talking about his brief stint after the game. He dressed and quickly left the locker room.

The 7-footer has been a huge disappointment as Tyson Chandler's replacement in the starting lineup. His minutes dwindled in the final month of the season and he certainly has not earned back minutes. Ian Mahinmi logged 16 minutes in Game 3 with Brandan Wright playing eight more minutes of ineffective basketball.

The bigger question with Haywood is what the Mavs will do with him after the season. He still has three guaranteed season remaining at about $28 million. The Mavs have the option to amnesty him this summer and then seek a replacement.
When the Mavs signed Vince Carter, they viewed him as the kind of aging offensive player who still had enough skills to help them win a playoff game - or series. You know, kind of like Peja Stojakovic last season against the Lakers.

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Well, for a quarter it looked like Carter might be able to provide that kind of spark against Oklahoma City.

He scored seven points in the first quarter, including a Vinsanity flashback - he drove through the lane and powered home a one-handed dunk in traffic - and a corner three with nine seconds left in the quarter.

The spurt ended a stretch of seven consecutive points that pulled the Mavs within 32-26, entering the second quarter.

He didn’t score again.

Carter finished two of eight from the field in 27 minutes in Dallas' 95-79 loss.

We shouldn’t really be surprised.

The Mavs have eight players in their 30s, and it showed during Game 3 and the season. Their bodies didn’t respond to the NBA’s compact schedule - 66 games in 123 days - and they haven’t been able to get all of their older guys playing well at the same time in the playoffs.

That’s what happens to older players. They lose the consistency that made them stars in their prime. They can dominate for spurts as Carter did for a few minutes in Game 3, but it’s difficult for them to maintain that high level of performance for a game or a series.

Here are three more areas of interest heading into Friday:

Three-headed center: Once again, the Mavs received virtually nothing from the center position and it played a role in their demise. Brendan Haywood, Ian Mahinmi and Brandan Wright combined to score nine points and grab eight rebounds in 30 minutes, but had no positive impact on the game. Haywood, the starting center, played just seven minutes.

Jason Kidd: The NBA's quintessential point guard is a facilitator by nature, but the Mavs’ stagnant offense turned him into a shooter in Game 3. That’s never, ever a good sign. Kidd, who made just four of 18 shots in the series’ first two games, finished second on the team with 12 points, while taking a season-high 12 shots. Kidd made two of his six three-point attempts. When Kidd is that involved in shooting and scoring, the Mavs rarely win.

Jason Terry has no impact: After three games, Jason Terry has had one great half, and that occurred in Game 1. He’s been a non-factor in the other five halves of this series. Terry scored 11 points on three of 12 shooting with six assists and three rebounds, but Mark Cuban pays him to score. Without his scoring, the Mavs had no chance.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsS. Dalembert 6.8
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksS. Dalembert 1.2