Wednesday night was another roller coaster ride for Dallas Mavericks fans and unfortunately the Mavs came up short again, losing to the Philadelphia 76ers 100-98 at the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday night.
Digging themselves out of an early 9-point hole they found themselves in shortly after the start of the game, the Mavs had a 31-28 lead at the end of the first quarter. The game would stay close but as has been the case all-too-often lately the Mavs found a way to lose again, committing 6 turnovers in a row and 8 total in the 4th quarter, killing a late charge led by Vince Carter who finished with 15 points. While they were still able to pull within two and had an opportunity to win, O. J. Mayo blew a chance to tie my missing the first of two free throws near the end of the game and deliberately missed the second one hoping for a rebound and putback. Jae Crowder did indeed get the opportunity but missed the shot at the buzzer that could have sent the game into overtime.
Overall, the Mavs didn’t play poorly but had a stretch that proved disastrous and couldn’t pull it out in the end despite the opportunities.
Mark Cuban commented to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News after the game “We’ll keep adjusting until we can find a team that wants to play defense,” Cuban said. “We’re going with what we got. Our guys should be able to defend better. It’s not good right now.”
Coach Rick Carlisle added that the Mavericks were working to manage mistakes better. “I love the effort,” he said. “I thought we fought our butts off. And we got unlucky when O.J. missed the first free throw,” while acknowledging that turnovers were having an effect on games.
While leading scorer O. J. Mayo had a subpar game, Chris Kaman continued to be the Mavs’ most consistent shooter and put up 20 points and grabbed 4 rebounds. In a very ironic twist, Elton Brand came off the bench for his return to Philadelphia and resembled his old self for the first time as a Maverick, scoring a season-high 17 points, 8 rebounds a steal and a block – also the Mavs’ only blocked shot of the game. Shawn Marion also had 17 points and 8 rebounds.
The 76ers, who are now 9-6 despite being without All-Star center Andrew Bynum for the entire season, got 22 points and 4 rebounds out of Evan Turner, 20 and 7 from Thaddeus Young and Jrue Holiday had 18 points and 7 assists. The Sixers continue to compete with no timetable on a possible return for Bynum.
The Mavericks fell to 7-8 and are below .500 for the first time in recent memory other than early in January 2012 when they were 4-5. It may be the last time they were below .500 this far into the season since early in the Dirk Nowitzki era or before his arrival. A host of problems continue to plague the Mavs on any given night, most consistently poor defense, which contributed to this loss by allowing the low-scoring 76ers to score 100 points.
The Mavs will play back-to-back tomorrow when they visit the Chicago Bulls who are 6-7 and in much the same situation without Derek Rose as the Nowitzki-less Mavs.