DALLAS – A point guard on a 10-day contract dribbling several times and jacking up a contested 26-footer definitely isn’t what coach Rick Carlisle drew it up with the game on the line.
But that’s what happened when the Mavs had a chance to tie the game or take a lead with seconds remaining in overtime during Friday’s 117-114 loss to the Thunder.
“I just made the wrong decision,” said Mike James, who got the crunch-time minutes over Darren Collison and missed the woulda-been go-ahead shot. “I had a big on me and I have to understand the situation. I have to attack, and I didn’t. I had hit a few shots, so I felt like it was a good shot, but it’s only a good shot if you make it. I didn’t make the right play.”
That’s admirable of James to accept accountability, but it wasn’t his fault.
If you must assign blame for the failure of a possession, point the finger at coach Rick Carlisle.
“The play got blown up,” said Carlisle, who drew up a beautiful play to free up O.J. Mayo for the game-tying 3 with 2.3 seconds remaining in regulation. “It’s on me, because when something like that happens at the end of the game, it’s on the coach. That’s about all I can say about that.”
Dirk Nowitzki elaborated in great detail, indicating that Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks deserved credit for a perfectly-timed defensive strategic adjustment that caught the Mavs off guard.
Nowitzki explained that the play was designed to have Mayo fake one way and come back toward Nowitzki, ideally freeing up one of the Mavs’ top two scorers. However, the Thunder switched on screens for the first time all night to foil the play.
“We had nothing and Mike was stuck with the ball up there,” Nowitzki said. “At that point, that isn’t the right play, but we didn’t know they were going to switch. So you’ve got to give them credit. They threw something at us we weren’t ready for.”
A few more notes from a loss that snapped the Mavs’ season-high four-game winning streak:
1. Dirk’s dud: Nowitzki missed 10 of his first 11 shots and finished with 18 points on 5-of-19 shooting.
It was the second consecutive game that Nowitzki struggled through three quarters before putting up double-digit points in the fourth. He had 12 points on 3-of-7 shooting in the fourth quarter Friday.
“So whatever I’m doing to get warmed up, it’s just not really working,” Nowitzki said. “I look stiff out there a little bit and don’t really feel like I’m moving well. I’ve just got to keep on working, get my shots in pregame and off days, get my running in. I’ve got to keep on working. I don’t know what else to say.
“I had some great looks, even there in the first half. It’s almost a tragedy that they don’t go in.”
2. No complaints from Collison: For the second consecutive game, starting point guard Darren Collison took a seat for crunch time to watch 37-year-old recent arrival Mike James.
James, a more physical defender who scored 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, played the final 1:32 of regulation and all of overtime against the Thunder. Collison, who had 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting, six assists, four rebounds and three steals with only one turnover in 31 minutes, cheered his teammates on from the bench.
Carlisle described it as a coach’s decision that would be made on a game-to-game basis. Collison accepted that explanation.
“I’m a team player,” Collison said. “He made that call and you’ve got to ride with it.”
3. Vintage Vince: Vince Carter is old enough to have been one of Kevin Durant’s favorite players to watch growing up. Carter came up with a flashback performance during Durant’s career-high 52-point night.
The 35-year-old Carter led the Mavs with a season-high 29 points, bouncing back from a four-point, 1-of-7 outing in Wednesday’s win over the Rockets by hitting 10-of-17 shots from the floor, including half of his eight 3-point attempts.
“We wouldn’t have been in this without him,” Carlisle said.