Found February 20, 2013 on Fox Sports Southwest:
DALLAS (AP) -- With or without Dirk Nowitzki, the Dallas Mavericks have virtually the same record this season -- a losing one. If they don't start winning at a pace reminiscent of the three 60-win seasons they've had in the Nowitzki era, the Mavericks are likely to miss the playoffs for the first time since the big German's second year in 2000. But Dallas better be careful weighing all that history, Vince Carter figures. "I don't think we can board watch as far as the standings are concerned," said Carter, who came into the league the same year as Nowitzki. "I think it just drives you crazy. You just go out there and you press, press, press, because you know you need the game. That's already understood anyway." It's been understood since the season started. For the second straight year since winning the franchise's first championship, Dallas rebuilt the roster with Nowitzki as the anchor. But this time the Mavericks realized they needed to grab every win they could after they found out he would miss the beginning of the season because of the first knee surgery of his career. When their star came back after missing 27 games, the Mavericks were in a brutal stretch of their schedule and couldn't find a way to win close games. Nearly two months later, Dallas (23-29) is still finding ways to lose and entered the All-Star break 4 games behind Houston for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Mavericks, who play for the first time in a week when Orlando visits on Wednesday night, were 12-15 before Nowitzki returned Dec. 23 against San Antonio, and they're 11-14 since. "Some of that is guys sharing court time and chemistry and certain guys zigging while the other guy thought he was zagging," said Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson. "The whole mantra of the first half of the season was, Hey, let's win our share, let's stay in the hunt, let's get the big German back and see where things take us." A lot of that strategy relied on new backcourt mates Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo, who helped Dallas to a 4-1 start before Collison started regressing and teams realized Mayo was the most dangerous scoring threat and started taking him away. Collison lost his starting job after a particularly bad game in a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Mavericks brought in veterans Derek Fisher and Mike James as mentors, and even as replacements in certain situations in case Collison's struggles continued. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle admittedly has been hard on the replacement for Jason Kidd, and Collison has responded by re-establishing himself as the starter. "It's not about my mood," Carlisle said. "It's about us playing well and doing everything we can possibly do to play our best to give ourselves a chance to trend upward. I understand that this job that I'm in is about being demanding and it's about having standards of excellence that are uncompromised. We just haven't been able to sustain, but I still believe we can do it." Mayo's biggest problem has been turnovers -- he has a team-high 149 -- and the issue was never more evident than the last time the Mavericks looked like they finally might be on to something before faltering. Dallas had won two straight and had a chance to beat East playoff contender Atlanta two games before the break when Mayo stole the ball and was headed for a layup trailing by one in the final minute. He switched hands on the dribble just before he got to the basket, giving Devin Harris a chance to steal it back. Mayo had another turnover on a bad pass when the Mavericks had one last chance to tie. "It's tough when you look at it now," said Nowitzki, whose scoring (15.2) and rebounding (5.7) averages are the lowest since his rookie season. "We've had close losses that could come back and haunt us. Atlanta, we shouldn't have lost. We've had too many of those close games where we've been on the short end of the stick." The Mavericks thought they built a playoff contender even after Deron Williams spurned them in free agency, and they still have a chance to prove it assuming center Chris Kaman returns soon from a concussion that has sidelined him for eight games. The other significant offseason addition was Elton Brand, who was picked up in an amnesty claim from Philadelphia. Carter came to Dallas in the first roster purge last year, when the Mavericks didn't bring back center Tyson Chandler and other important pieces of their title team and got swept in the first round by Oklahoma City. Carter's 10.1-point scoring average last season was the lowest of his career, but he's emerged recently as the biggest scoring threat behind Mayo and Nowitzki. In the last game before the break, Carter scored 26 and hit five 3-pointers in the third quarter to carry Dallas past Sacramento, another reason the Mavericks probably will end up keeping him and Shawn Marion despite both names being popular in rumors leading to Thursday's trading deadline. "I don't get caught up in what's being read and if we have a shot or not," Carter said. "If we don't believe in the locker room that we have a shot, we won't ever have a shot. It doesn't matter what's said outside the locker room, and I think our guys are pretty confident." The playoffs start now for the Mavericks and their 12-year postseason streak.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Dirk doesn’t expect a Dallas trade

Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t expect his team to make a trade. It’s not a surprise that he’s saying this as the teams owner Mark Cuban has been saying the team has “nothing going on” for a while now. Only difference is I wouldn’t necessarily trust Cuban he’s got to keep his cards hidden till the right time. Dirk well he’s got a good relationship with...

Nowitzki: Mavericks Unlikely To Make Trade Due To Luxury Tax Concerns

Dirk Nowitzki assessed the NBA's current financial climate.

Dirk and company – What’s next for the Dallas Mavericks?

Well, here we are after the All-Star break and the Dallas Mavericks are ready to head into the final half of the season. With them sitting at 23-29, currently in 11th spot in the Western Conference, not all is as bleak as some would think. Dallas is only 1 game behind the two teams that share the 9th and 10th seeds, LA Lakers and Portland, and only 4.5 games behind the 8th spot Houston...

Mavericks trade Jones for shooter Morrow

DALLAS - He's from Georgia Tech, is buddies with Dwight (for what it's worth) and can shoot the lights out. The Mavs beat the Thursday deadline by trading Dahntay to Atlanta in exchange for Anthony Morrow. 'One of the best shooters in the game,' says Mavs coach Rick Carlisle. DallasBasketball.com's Chuck Perry helps us break down the meaning of it all - talent...

An Honored Vince Carter Reaches Out To Thank Terrence Ross For Tribute

Not only did Vince Carter see Terrence Ross’ tribute dunk during the Slam Dunk Contest over the weekend, but he was honored and reached out to the Raptors rookie to say ‘thank you’ and ‘congratulations’/ According to ESPN Dallas: “It was weird, but I was honored,” Carter said Monday. “It was great to see that jersey on the floor in that atmosphere of the dunk contest...

Mark Cuban has some suggestions for improving NBA Slam Dunk Contest

The NBA Slam Dunk Contest is not exactly getting better as the years go on. Despite the efforts of some of their fellow players, superstars rarely ever feel inclined to participate in the event anymore. Since convincing high-profile players to partake clearly isn’t working, Mark Cuban has some other ideas. “Star power helps,” Cuban told the Dallas Morning News. “But I think...

O.J. Mayo Still Makes Sense for Celtics, While Standing as Example of Why Any Trade Will Be Tricky

The Celtics have been attracted to O.J. Mayo for some time. Their interest stretches back at least as far as last season, when multiple reports indicated that the team was close to acquiring the then-Grizzlies guard for Ray Allen. When that deal failed to come together, Mayo headed into free agency, where the Celtics were among the teams that explored signing the 6-foot-4 combo guard...

Hawks Trade Anthony Morrow To Mavericks For Dahntay Jones

The Atlanta Hawks have traded seldom used 3-point specialist, Anthony Morrow, to the Dallas Mavericks for Dahntay Jones. Morrow has only appeared in 24 games this season with the Hawks, averaging 5.2 points per game. He is a career 42.5% 3-point shooter.  Jones averaged 3.5 points and 1.4 rebounds off the bench for the Mavs. According to ESPN: Instead of making a major move, the...

Mavericks Acquire Morrow From Hawks For Dahntay Jones

The Hawks have traded Anthony Morrow to the Mavericks for Dahntay Jones.

Dirk Nowitzki poses with Gabby Douglas

Seven-foot Dirk Nowitzki posed for a picture with 4-foot-11 U.S. Olympic gold medal gymnast Gabby Douglas at American Airlines Arena Monday for the first ever “Game Changer” event.  Douglas was a keynote speaker at the conference which was held at the home at the home of Dirk’s Mavs.
NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.