For the second time in less than a week, the Dallas Mavericks had a chance to reach the .500 plateau and shave the beards. Coincidentally for the second time, Dallas fell flat on their face. Last Thursday night against the Indiana Pacers, Dallas got thumped at home by 25 points.
Last night, with a shave and a tiebreaker on the line against the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas got outplayed at the Staples Center. In front of Shaquille O’Neal, Phil Jackson, and a sold-out crowd, Kobe Bryant proved again why he is still one of the best. It was his triple-double that propelled the Lakers to the victory over and vaulted them into a tie with the Utah Jazz for the final playoff spot. The Lakers as a team also grabbed 19 offensive rebounds on the night.
The loss puts Dallas 2.5 games back with only eight games left on the schedule – a seemingly insurmountable hill to climb. Of course I’m not saying they’re dead just yet. I’ll wait until they are mathematically eliminated before making assumptions or accusations. It doesn’t look good, however. Dallas needs to probably win at least seven games to have a legitimate shot. When you consider two of the games are against the Denver Nuggets, who currently occupy the number three spot in the Western Conference, and one game with the Memphis Grizzlies – currently fifth, the task seems tougher.
It all starts Thursday night in Denver. The Mavericks will need to show some resiliency and put away the loss from Tuesday. One thing we’ve learned from this team is to never count out Dirk Nowitzki and head coach Rick Carlisle. They may have gotten drilled by the Lakers last night, but I have a feeling they will be ready to play in Denver tomorrow night.