Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 3/4/12

I’m going to ask a simple question, “who are you and what did you do with my Dallas Mavericks?” Just plain and simple; if you return them as they were, there will be no questions asked, no repercussions, just return my Dallas Mavericks to their championship form and step away.

When the Mavericks went into the All-Star break, they were on a good roll, only have lost to the LA Lakers just before the break and sitting 4th in the Western Conference 2 games behind the San Antonio Spurs in the Southwest Division and playing like a championship team; then BAM! Again, the invasion of the body snatchers, gerbils, gremlins whatever you want to call them, it seems as a team, they forgot how to play continual good ball.

First we start off against a former coach, Avery Johnson and the New Jersey Nets, the Nets, and of course a player that has been rumored to be on the scope of free agents that Dallas might be looking at trying to get to add to their arsenal of weapons in order to try to get another trophy and they lose to a sub-.500 team. These are the games you are supposed to win, but the Nets

Now I don’t want to take anything away from Coach Johnson or any of the Nets players, because they do have some talent, but let’s face it, if Dallas had been playing up to par, they would have won, but the straw that broke the camel’s back, the last play of the game; why would they not have thought that Deshawn Stevenson would not play tough defense on anyone; he was one of the key guys they had on defense last season and he was pretty darned good at it; between him, Shawn Marion and Tyson Chandler, that was the triangle defense that worked so well for Dallas and their type of defensive play and attitude rubbed off on those that were not so well-known for playing defense, Dirk for one.

Dirk has always had a tag hanging around his neck that read “soft” on defense as far as the general consensus was, but over the last couple of years, starting with Avery’s coaching, he got a defensive mind-set to him and did much better at blocking and scrapping under the basket for the ball and whatever he had to do to help his team. It showed by leaps and bounds in the playoffs last year when he carried the team in a lot of games, especially the Finals; torn tendon in finger, having to wear a splint, a high fever in one game; so don’t tell me that he is soft or old or I will just have to come and beat the crap out of you.

During the course of the game, Dirk had gone up for a rebound and you could tell that he did something to his back because of the way he grimaced afterwards and then going into the game against the Memphis Grizzlies, he said that it was a little tight during pre-game warm-ups and then you could tell he was off during the little bit of time he played against the Grizzlies.

He tried to play the game, but was slow in his sets and not able to make the shots he can most likely make in his sleep and then again missed a free throw and scored only 1 point in the 9 plus minutes that he played and it seemed that the whole team was on shut down after he left. Dirk came off of a double-double against the Nets with 24 points, 10 rebounds but he also had 3 steals, 0 fouls and was a shocking 7 of 11 from the free throw line; I can almost guarantee you that this was the first game where he had no fouls and missed on 4 free throw attempts, it’s just not Dirk, not Dirk at all. He is almost a guaranteed point every time he steps up to the line, but not tonight.

During the Nets game, it was too bad that they couldn’t get rid of Brook Lopez, since he burned them for 38 points but also Anthony Morrow hit it home a lot for the Nets with 3 three pointers. Even though the Mavs had 5 players in double-digit scoring, it just wasn’t enough to fend off Avery and the Nets. The final play was set for Dirk to take, but got moved to Kidd who was pinned in on the sideline and had to take a desperation shot, which of course didn’t hit, so the Nets escaped Dallas with a victory and Dallas unfortunately added another mark to the loss column for them.

Now we were in Memphis, Dirk is hurting and unable to play and the rest of the team it seemed with down the pike with him. Again we are without Lamar Odom, due to personal family matters and are having to play deep into our bench, which is ok, but you still need plenty of warm bodies out there to be ready to play.

Jason Terry led the Mavs in scoring with 18 points and it looked as if Dallas was going to try to get on the winning side of things, but then it all fell apart when Marc Gasol really warmed up and took advantage of Dirk not being in the game and ended the night with 22 points and 11 rebounds and Dallas had no answer to stop him completely. After shooting 54.1% over the first half on 20 of 37 from the floor, Dallas shot just 35.7% on 15 of 42 from the floor in the  second half. To show how bad it was, Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd combined to go just 6-of-19 from the floor. Now Kidd has had some stretches where he hasn’t done well in shooting, but for both of these veterans to have such a low output with Dirk being gone, does not bode well for Dallas.

For Dallas, this is their third loss in  a row and the second since the break and they need to get it back together and get back on the winning side of things and play some good ball, not just decent, but good and this is not going to cut it.

They need to get Odom back and make him suck it up that he was traded from LA and that the Mavericks wanted him, at least they wanted him and the players have all stated as such, but he needs to put on his big boy pants and play. I know we all have family, personal issues that need to get taken care of, but even before this he didn’t look as if he was putting for the effort I have seen him do in the past. We need to get everyone on the same page for winning, not just playing, but winning. I realize that you can’t win every game, but you have to put forth the effort and look as if you are at least trying and from what I have seen recently, they sometimes look lost.

Now we head off to New Orleans to face the Hornets, another below .500 team that we should beat, but you never under-estimate your opponent, because if you do, that’s usually when they get you; so with that, I bid you a good day and say good luck and let’s go Mavs!

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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