Bah! Humbug! Holiday cheers lacking for Mavs

Unless the 12-14 Mavericks can win Friday night in Memphis and Sunday night in San Antonio, they’ll be lugging a sub-.500 record into Christmas for the first time since 1999-2000.

Those Mavs, in Dirk Nowitzki's second season, were mired at 9-18 at the time.

Yet you’ll undoubtedly recall what happened within a week of that Christmas. On Jan. 4, 2000, Dallas-based Broadcast.com co-founder Mark Cuban emerged without warning as the Mavericks’ new owner to launch a run of longstanding success, generating 12 consecutive playoff berths after the 1999-2000 team rallied to finish 40-42.

The Mavs’ post-Christmas present this time will be the return of Nowitzki – possibly for next Friday’s home game against Denver – after the longest injury absence of Nowitzki’s career following arthoscopic knee surgery. But it seems safe to suggest that the Mavs, on top of Nowitzki's comeback, could use another New Year's surprise to help Dirk drag this team back up the West ladder, eve if it's not quite on the level of Cuban's arrival all those years ago.

The Mavs dropped to 3-10 against .500-or-better teams with Thursday night’s hammering by Miami on TNT. The Heat expanded their lead to a whopping 91-55 late in the third quarter, which marked the third time all season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, that a home team has faced a deficit of more than 35 points this season.

Even worse: Dallas has accounted for two of those three mammoth deficits. The Mavs also trailed by 37 points against the Los Angeles Lakers at home on Nov. 24. Orlando is the only other team in that undesirable club, having trailed Brooklyn by 39 points at home on Nov. 9.