How many more times are we going to see the same thing from the Dallas Mavericks this year?
They get a good lead at one point during the game, play good for the entire first half, but once again fail to close in the second half. That was almost the case for the last two games.
Today, with no Kobe Bryant and a lead that once hit double digits, the defending NBA Champions missed a chance to improve their playoff positioning by losing to the Los Angeles Lakers by a final count of 112-108 with the entire world watching.
The inability to close games has become a recent painful staple that has been put in bold for the 2011-12 Dallas Mavericks, so much to the point that if they garner a big lead, you can almost guarantee that they will fall by the fourth quarter.
It was even a problem last year. Dare I bring up Game 4 in Portland in the playoffs last year?
The problem with this lack of closing games is that if you want to show the rest of the league that you're serious about going for another title (especially in this short of a season), you don't have time to forget about what happened the game before. The thought of how you lost that game lingers in your mind for quite some time.
Which is why I'm sure Jason Terry will not be forgetting that missed layup in the closing seconds of overtime earlier this afternoon.
I completely understand with the way Dirk was shooting the ball, but let's keep in mind one simple thing: This is Dirk Nowitzki. You can say that he missed the shot at the end of the fourth quarter and maybe he wasn't ready to take the shot, but we're talking about the Mavericks' franchise player and last season's Finals MVP.
What did this game tell you more of?
You don't think in the span of the time that was left on that clock that Dirk could've made something happen against Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum?
You're a fool if you think otherwise.
Which is why Rick Carlisle should, once again, be analyzed for the way he's coaching so far to this point in the season. He should've known to at least let Dirk take the final shot in overtime that would've tied the game. He should've known that Ramon Sessions was killing Terry for the majority of the time that he was guarding him and thus should've called for the defensive switch.
The Lakers do deserve a lot of credit, however, for pulling together and putting forth such an effort that has, without question, made them a dangerous threat for the NBA title come playoff time. They've now won a few games in a row without their star player and everyone on that roster seems to be steeping up right when it counts.
A good way to demonstrate that is having three players score over 20 points and another one scoring 18.
But the Mavs, once again, have more questions than answers. I don't know how many times I'm going to have to say it before it rings true, but the fact that this team can't close is becoming a serious problem.
And if play keeps coming up like this, then I wouldn't be surprised if the Lakers swept Dallas in the first round of the playoffs.