Commentary

Mavericks wilt without Jason Kidd

After pasting by Clippers, champs must find a way to endure without floor general

Updated: April 3, 2012, 10:08 AM ET
By Jeff Caplan | ESPNDallas.com

DALLAS -- That run of healthy bodies sure was fun.

One and done.

The Dallas Mavericks were done Monday night, oh, about 10 minutes into their 94-75 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in front of a yawning sellout crowd that was quickly sent scurrying for TVs showing Kentucky and Kansas. Outside of a few thunderous Blake Griffin power dunks, there certainly wasn't anything to see on the American Airlines Center court.

[+] EnlargeDelonte West
Danny Bollinger/Getty ImagesDelonte West finished with just six points and four assists in 36 minutes for the Mavs, who will be without Jason Kidd for a week.

News that Jason Kidd has a groin strain and will miss this important week, if not longer, was dropped on the team Sunday before practice. The head of the snake, as the team calls their wily veteran leader, is sidelined again just as the pressure of this incredible shrinking season is heating up.

Without Kidd -- and, not to be forgotten, Lamar Odom due to an illness -- the Mavs wilted without a fight.

On their home floor.

Against the team dead ahead of them in the standings.

With two days of rest behind them.

Coach Rick Carlisle, who has perfected the non-overreaction to bad losses on most occasions, felt little need to hold back the truth on this one.

"I'm not big on judging it on one game after you've gone through a stretch where you've been winning and been doing some good things, but we got beat every quarter, we got beat in virtually every statistical category, so this was... I don't know if you could play much worse," Carlisle said. "But we can't just dismiss it like it's just a bad game either. We've got to correct the things that are wrong and bounce back."

They'll have to do it without Kidd for perhaps half of their dozen remaining games. Kidd is having the worst statistical season of his 18-year career. His shooting has mostly been abysmal, and some of his turnovers surely have even made Carlisle wince.

But as everyone knows, it is not Kidd's stats in his twilight years that makes him great. It's his poise, his tempo control and decision-making. He runs the show, and on a team that calls few set plays, it is his show.

Delonte West, a hero in Friday night's comeback win at Orlando that looms especially large now, got off to a helter-skelter start, got a quick hook and never got going.

His ability to penetrate and attack the rim compromised by his stabilized right hand to protect his still-healing ring finger, West finished with six points and four assists in 36 minutes. Rodrigue Beaubois hit his first 3-point attempt in the first quarter and then missed five of his next seven attempts.

"You don't plan to play like that," West said. "You get stops and you come down and play a very good segment of defense and then come down and have miss after miss, it will take a lot of momentum out of you. That was the story right there. We couldn't get in the flow offensively."

And neither West nor Beaubois had any chance against Randy Foye, who lit the place up for a season-high 28 points on a career-high eight 3-pointers. Carlisle said he was waiting for somebody to plant Foye on his rear, but no one ever did. When Foye swished his final bomb to end the Mavs' brief run to get within 14, West looked over at the bench at disbelief.

The offense only sabotaged things. The Clips held Dallas to 75 points -- its third-lowest total of the season -- and 39 percent shooting.

"Just got to get over it, have West step in, have Roddy give us something and just get over it somehow," said Dirk Nowitzki, who had 19 points and was one of two Mavs in double figures. "But obviously Kidd is the head of the snake and he's going to be missed, his leadership out there, his decision-making obviously, giving the ball to the right guys at the right time, and that's definitely going to be missed."

So how do the Mavs figure this out with surging Memphis in the building Wednesday for the first of two meetings in four days?

"I have no idea, but we'll have to figure it out," Jason Terry said. "If I have to take more responsibility, try to shoot more, shoot 30 times, that's what I'm going to have to do."

That might not be what Carlisle draws up on the chalkboard. But they'll have to figure things out quickly.

Still, beyond the offensive struggles, a defense that isn't making life nearly as difficult for its opponents and a power outage on the boards, the Mavs have to rediscover the energy that carried them to that win in Orlando when Kidd was sitting on the bench with what we now know to be a groin injury.

It was a tough night all the way around for the Mavs, including on the scoreboard. And don't think the Mavs, having dropped to the sixth seed, aren't watching that.

"Yeah, I saw Memphis won tonight, Houston won," said Nowitzki, yet to realize that Utah also won on the road. "It's a tough stretch. ...so we've got our hands full. It's tough without Kidd, but we've got to make it happen somehow."

Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.

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