The Dallas Mavericks entered Wednesday's challenge at Utah while throwing a conceptual "kitchen sink'' at the situation. Encourage defensive effort by offering as a reward a championship boxing belt. Rely on a come-to-Jesus halftime session. Hold a "closed-door team meeting.'' Bring a trio of guys out of COVID sick bay.
Anything. Everything. And yet in Dallas' 116-104 loss to the Jazz - a third straight failure for the Mavs and an NBA-hottest 10th straight win for Utah - what worked was ... nothing.
"We ... really got beat,'' Kristaps Porzingis said.
There’s a lot of things wrong right now,'' Luka Doncic said.
The return of Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith and Dwight Powell was ballyhooed as some sort of "arrival of the calvary.''
"It was tough," Finney-Smith said before the game, on the subject of being out of commission for weeks, "just knowing some of the young guys were forced to go out there and do stuff that guys like me and J-Rich could have helped them with."
Alas, the veterans (the threesome combined for nine points) were really not much help in preventing the Mavericks from dropping to 2-6 over the course of two weeks, from dropping to 8-10 overall and, significantly, continuing a slide low-lighted by the fact that Dallas was, a couple of weeks ago statistically the NBA's second-best defensive team ...
And now hovers around the No. 17 slot in defensive efficiency.
So the belt, the bellowing and the begging hasn't worked.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle - who said of his COVID guys, "They gave what they could give'' - has so much work to do. KP, for one, cited the COVID issues as a reason Dallas doesn't yet have its "chemistry'' or its "roles'' down pat yet. That's troublesome.
The Mavs, as always, were kept afloat by the individual brilliance of Luka Doncic, the third-year MVP candidate who totaled 34 points, six assists and four rebounds. But we wrote about how "Luka needs help'' in our game-day Donuts, and we are even more correct after this outing than we were before it.
Dallas did get 19 from Tim Hardaway Jr. and 18 from Kristaps Porzingis. But that wasn't near enough to match Jazz coach Quin Snyder's talent waves, led by Rudy Gobert's 29 points and 20 rebounds. ... and Jordan Clarkson somehow scoring 31.
Utah isn't just winning (let alone "winning ugly,'' as Snyder recently suggested); this is a dominant run, as the Jazz have outscored opponents by an average of 15 points over the 10 games.
These Mavs are supposed to be able to outscore foes when needed, are supposed to be able to step up defensive when needed, and are supposed to be maturing into level of consistency and clutch-ness.
Instead, right now? The Mavs are, a bit desperately, throwing the kitchen sink at opponents. And the opponents are swatting the kitchen sink back into the Mavs' faces.
CONTINUE READING: Dallas Mavs Fans, Breathe! Here's Why Luka & Co. Will Be OK