Each week, ESPNDallas.com will take a look at the Texas Legends, the D-League affiliate for the Dallas Mavericks, in order to see how the two are working hand in hand to improve one another.
For the fourth consecutive season, the Texas Legends will not participate in the NBA D-League playoffs. Starting near the end of January, the Legends went through a stretch that saw them lose nine of 10 games. That losing skid ultimately doomed their chances of making a legitimate push for the playoffs.
As the Legends look ahead to next season, they'll need to avoid going through losing streaks of that magnitude, but they also need to continue to develop their ability to close games out when the game moves into clutch time. "Clutch time" is defined by NBA.com as the last five minutes of a game with the score within five points. The Legends went just 13-14 in games that were within five points in the final five minutes of the game.
They had a 5-2 record in games ultimately decided by five points or less as they moved into February. Things fell apart as they went just 3-4 in those coin-flip games from February on.
With those games up for grabs, the Legends couldn't take their game to the next level. The biggest culprit was their inability to make timely shots. Their shooting touch abandoned them as they shot just 41.6 percent from the field and 27.7 percent from 3-point range in those clutch time situations.
Any NBA coach will tell you that the margin between winning and losing is razor thin. As the D-League continues to grow and strengthen, games will mirror that of the NBA in the sense that more of them will come down to the last few minutes. If that's the case, the Legends have to find that next gear when the game is there for the taking at the end. If they are able to do so, they'll be able to start playing deeper into April.
Mark your calendars
With the playoffs no longer a possibility, the Legends play their final two games of the season this weekend, with both games being played at Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco. Texas will host the Maine Red Claws on Friday at 7 p.m.
Texas' season finale will be on Saturday as they host the Idaho Stampede. That game will also tip off at 7 p.m.
Fans will be able to watch the D-League live on the NBA D-League YouTube Channel (YouTube.com/nbadleague), the Legends’ website, as well as via the NBA D-League Center Court mobile app -- the league’s free mobile application providing fans with access to NBA D-League content.
But not least …
The Legends were on the wrong side of history last week. Guard Dar Tucker of the Reno Bighorns tied the NBA Developmental League record for most points in a game with 58. Tucker's big night pushed Reno past Texas to a 161-127 victory last Saturday. Tucker finished the night going 20-of-35 from the field and 11-of-22 from the 3-point line.
Tucker netted 29 points in the first half. The Legends simply couldn't keep pace as the game continued as the Bighorns tallied 72 points during the second half of play, going 25-of-46 from the field.