Dallas Mavericks: Blowout losses leave team with that old lottery look

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After the Dallas Mavericks were blasted by the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday—at home, no less—111-86, coach Rick Carlisle threatened to hit players where it hurts the most … in the wallet.

“If I have to start suspending guys for not doing things they’re supposed to be doing on the court, I’ll do it,” Carlisle told the Dallas Morning News. “And (owner) Mark (Cuban) and I will get into it about that. But somehow, things have got to change and it can’t just be about that it’s a tough schedule. It just can’t.”

With the loss, Dallas fell to 12-19 on the season. That currently ranks 12th in the Western Conference, four games behind the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are currently in eighth place.

The Mavericks have lost six in a row and nine of their last 10 heading into tonight’s game against the Washington Wizards in D.C.

The defense has been a major culprit in Dallas’ slide from respectability this season, currently ranking 28th in the 30-team league, allowing an average of 103.1 points per game.

The schedule has been tough, without question. The Mavericks have faced the league’s seventh-toughest slate through their first 31 games. But while their record is 21st in the league, their scoring differential is 25th.

They’ve been getting blown out—a lot. Dallas has eight losses this season by 20 points or more and a ninth defeat was by 19 points.

During the current losing streak, the Mavericks have lost by 15 at home to the Miami Heat, by 10 at Memphis, by 38 at San Antonio, by six in overtime at Oklahoma City, by 21 at home to the Denver Nuggets and the most recent loss to the Spurs on Sunday, at home by 25.

That’s an average margin of defeat of a whopping 19.2 points over a six-game span. Dallas isn’t just losing; rather the Mavericks are simply rolling over and dying.

Minnesota’s getting healthy. The Los Angeles Lakers are back to .500. The Utah Jazz can’t be counted out. As of now, the eighth spot in the Western Conference would take 43 wins, but it’s more likely that with the Timberwolves expected to improve as their players round into form and the Lakers trending upward, it might take more like 45 or 46 wins to lock up that final playoff position out West.

Being conservative and saying it will take a 45-37 mark to get into the playoffs, that means Dallas would have to go 33-18 the rest of the way. That’s a .647 winning percentage, which would translate into 53 wins over a full schedule.

Do the Mavericks have the parts to play like a 53-win team over the final 3½ months of the season?

Dirk Nowitzki is still getting his legs back under him after missing nearly two months following knee surgery. He’s shooting just 32 percent—a figure that looks to get better. O.J. Mayo has cooled off in recent weeks. After shooting the lights out from 3-point range early, his percentage has fallen off to a more pedestrian 38.9 this month.

Elton Brand, who was one of the few Mavericks to show up in Sunday’s drubbing by the Spurs with 14 points and 10 rebounds, looks old … because he is. Jae Crowder is getting 19 minutes a night … somehow. But his production has been more along the lines of someone who is sixth or seventh off the bench.

Darren Collison is wildly inconsistent as he tried to replace Jason Kidd at the point.

The Mavericks haven’t been in the lottery since 2000, the same year Cuban purchased a majority share of the team from H. Ross Perot Jr. for $285 million.

But it’s hard to imagine a team that has been getting hammered night after night rebounding well enough to sneak into the postseason. The team already looks very different from the squad that won the NBA title just two years ago.

Maybe getting into the lottery could be the thing to spur the reconstruction of the Dallas Mavericks along.

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