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Thursday, March 1, 2012
3-pointer: Centers doing heavy damage

By Jeff Caplan

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Mavericks center Brendan Haywood notched consecutive double-figure scoring games for the first time in a couple seasons. He had 10 points Wednesday, and not just on put-backs and dunks. His fallaway jumper is becoming quite a weapon for him.

As nice as it is to see Haywood helping out with the scoring load beyond his 5.7-point season average -- he has 28 points in the past two games -- there is another side to the coin.

The problem is at the other end. Haywood has faced three excellent centers, including two All-Stars in the last three games: the Los Angeles Lakers' Andrew Bynum, the New Jersey Nets' Brook Lopez and in Wednesday's 96-85 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, Marc Gasol. The three combined for 79 points and 31 rebounds.

Gasol had an All-Star performance with 22 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots. He helped Memphis score 62 points in the paint -- 64.6 percent of their total output. The 62 points is a season-high for a Mavs opponent. Only twice have they given up 50 or more with Cleveland scoring 54 most recently on Feb. 4, which also happened to be the last time Dallas lost three consecutive games.

Of course, all that damage does not solely fall on Haywood. It's on the Mavs' team defense, which misses Delonte West's feisty perimeter defense and on Wednesday, Dirk Nowitzki's 7-foot frame was misssed.

"We struggled to keep them from putting the ball in the basket," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "It was a combination of things — second shots, drives, fast-break situations. It’s not simply that they just pounded it in. It was a tough night."

Here's three more things to consider coming off Wednesday's defeat:

1. Jason Terry can't locate 3-ball: Terry had a team-high 18 points Wednesday night, but six came in the final five minutes with Memphis ahead by 11 points. Still, Terry was aggressive in the game, driving and trying to create, and he came away with a team-high five assists. But, Terry's known for the long ball and right now he's just not connecting. He was 2-of-8 against Memphis and 1-of-6 in the second half when Dallas went ice cold.

Terry isn't taking lightly the fact that he's 6-of-21 from 3-point range during Dallas' three-game skid.

"Right now, it's just not going down and I've got to find it," Terry said. "That's my job. I worked too hard for it not to go down."

2. Dirk's odd free throw slump: Just about no matter who you are, a 14-of-21 (66.7 percent) stretch at the free throw line is nothing to write home about. But, for Dirk Nowitzki it's nearly unheard of. But, after he went 1-of-2 at the line in his limited minutes Wednesday night before leaving with lower back tightness, those are Nowitzki's numbers in the last three games. He was 7-of-11 in Tuesday's loss to New Jersey and he was actually 7-of-12 with three consecutive misses after a Nets lane violation provided a third attempt (only two officially count). Nowitzki was shooting free throws at 90-percent clip for much of the season. He's now down to 85.5 percent.

3. Disappearing Carter: Vince Carter has proven to be an impact scorer early in games sort of the way Josh Howard did years ago as well as Caron Butler last season before he injured his knee. Lately, Carter has not been involved in the offense, at least in terms of taking shots. In the last two games, 12 of his 13 shot attempts came in the first half with 10 coming in the first quarter.