Don’t like the schedule demands placed on the young shoulders of your Dallas Mavericks as the NBA’s second half commences?
Don’t like the fact that they’re in the midst of a 12-day streak featuring six games, four against West teams with superior records?
Don’t like the fact that Thursday at OKC was the second night of a back-to-back? Or that Dallas is one of just five NBA teams with 10 second-half back-to-backs?
Or that it’s the first of 10 roadies in the next 13 outings?
Get used to it. Cope with it. Win.
Or ... concede?
All-Star starter and MVP candidate Luka Doncic joined Kristaps Porzingis as “resting” scratches as the Mavs sort of absorbed what we might call a “scheduled loss,” 116-108 at the Thunder, a failure that ends a Dallas run of 11 wins in 14 outings. A four-game win streak is over and Dallas has a 19-17 record.
“This game was really all about the first quarter,” coach Rick Carlisle said. "A horrendous start for us.''
"Horrendous'' goes away ... if Luka and KP are participating. Instead, it was left to the starting backcourt of Josh Richardson (27 points) and Jalen Brunson (26), along with Tim Hardaway Jr. (24 points) to carry the load.
That felt like a concession of sorts - though Carlisle did say, "We're trying to win the game.''
Rather astoundingly, as badly as Dallas was being drubbed for most of the game - OKC was up by 15 after two quarters and again after three - a Brunson-led rally pulled the Mavs to within a bucket late, at 103-101, before OKC pulled away.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of OKC led all scores with 32.
“The schedule is difficult,” Carlisle said recently. “It’s going to get very dense in the second half. But our plan for adversity is to focus on what we have and not what we don’t have.”
That "density'' explains the rest. On a normal night? What Dallas has most of all, of course, is Luka, a face-of-the-franchise weapon who at 22 makes almost anything seem possible. He nursed a minor ankle injury here (and KP a knee); again, this was about “rest” more than “injury.”
The upcoming “anythings” include a trip to Denver, consecutive games against the Clippers and two in games at Portland. Not too much room for "concessions'' there.
“We can make excuses,'' Carlisle said of this loss, "but we just needed to be better. And we weren't.''
READ MORE: Porzingis Trade Rumors Persist