The Dallas Mavericks tied an NBA record for most consecutive overtime losses with a 99-96 loss to the New Orleans Hornets, a game in which the Mavs led by as many as 11 points before eventually folding.
The loss spoiled Dirk Nowitzki’s first start of the season and while he had a decent game and balanced support from his teammates, the Mavericks once again couldn’t pull it out in OT.
Despite little help from top rookies Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers, the Hornets relied on point guard Greivis Vasquez, who poured in 25 points and added 9 assists and 7 rebounds to lead the Hornets, one of the few teams in the league who has struggled as badly as the Mavericks. The NBA’s top three-point shooter, Ryan Anderson, added 16 points including 4-of-7 from downtown and Al-Farouq Aminu added 10 points and 13 rebounds.
The Mavericks were not completely devoid of some solid contributions, including Dirk’s 20 points and 6 rebounds - his best performance of the season. Vince Carter scored 17 points and adding 5 rebounds and 3 assists while Elton Brand added 12 points and 3 rebounds plus 5 blocked shots providing the Mavs about the only consistent defense they had.
The point guard position also had solid outings from Darren Collison with 12 points on 5-of-7 and 5 assists, while Roddy Beaubois, who has taken over the backup minutes at the point, had 6 points and 4 assists in 16 minutes.
Unfortunately O. J. Mayo had another game in which he scored 17 points but on 5-of-17 shooting. It’s has become fairly clear that at this stage of his career you never know what kind of night Mayo is going to have and if the Mavericks are looking for a consistent scorer, Mayo has yet to prove he is one.
The Mavericks weren’t blown out in any of the areas they usually fall short—shooting, rebounding or turnovers—but when your opponent is near the bottom of the league, you would expect not to.
Post play continues to be absent for the Mavericks particularly at the end of games. Chris Kaman was a non-factor, hitting 2-3 for 4 points and playing only 19 minutes. Rick Carlisle continues to leave Kaman out of the game in the 4th quarter and overtime and the Mavericks continue to lose. Is there a direct correlation? Who knows but clearly the Mavericks have very little post presence on either end of the floor in crunch time. No Kaman, no Brandan Wright, no Bernard James and not even Brand and of course, not Dirk either. If you're completely failing on both offense and defense at the end of the game it certainly is a challenge but continuing to do the same thing isn't likely to change the outcome.
The Mavericks led by as many as 11 points and again, couldn’t hang on when it mattered most—a disturbing trend unless you’re hoping for a lottery pick.
While Dirk is slowly improving, he isn't adding much in terms of defense to a team that has been lacking it all season and that was fairly evident once again in the last half of the game. Some are starting to question Rick Carlisle's substitution patterns, particularly toward the end of games when the Mavs seemed to get bombed while not scoring themselves. Whether it's an interior presence on offense or defense, bigs don’t seem to be on the menu and the lineups he is using aren’t getting the job done.
At the end of last year and the beginning of this year, there were signs of hope when the Mavericks lost close games to the Thunder and the Heat and notched a solid win over the Wizards. Unfortunately this loss to the Hornets indicates that the problems are not yet solved and the struggles are likely to continue on the upcoming road trip, first against the surging Utah Jazz, followed by the Los Angeles Clippers.