Mavs Season: Back and Forth

Earlier this week the Dallas Mavericks were celebrating their first 3-game winning streak of the season, feeling healthy – after a rash of injuries to multiple players early in the season – and eyeing a possible 8th place finish in the West.

What a difference 48 hours makes.

The Mavs suffered a heartbreaking 99-95 loss at the then-13 and 30 Miami Heat on Thursday night. But there was little time for a pity party. The priority was packing up and heading home to prepare for the second night of a back-to-back this time against the Utah. Jazz

In what turned into an exciting game, the Mavs battled valiantly against the Jazz and star Rudy Gobert right out of regulation (thanks to a 3 from Seth Curry who is raising eyebrows as a starter) and on into overtime. They  ultimately lost 107-112. Star Dirk Nowitzki had an especially dismal night going 1-of-13 and scoring 3 points.

“Well, we were on a back-to-back. I’m fighting my way back still from injury,” Nowitzki said after the game. “I’m just not where it’s at right now but I battled. The whole team battled. It’s just the play here and there.”

And adding insult to injury the Mavs lost starting guard J.J. Barea. Again. For the third time. This season.

Back, back, forth and forth.

“Strained left calf. Same calf. Different area,” Head Coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s going to be a while (before he’s back). It’s going to be likely weeks, not days.”

Said Barea after the game: “This is awful. I’m playing great basketball. Having so much fun out there. We were winning games,” he said. “I was feeling good today – and this happens again.”

“I’ll have to shut it down for a while.”

Back, back, forth and forth.

Less than a month before the All-Star break and halfway through the season the Mavs keep taking steps forward and backward. They had almost found their footing despite a less than stellar record.

Their bright spots include breakout player Dorian Finney-Smith, Curry shining as a starter, a smaller-lineup that’s exciting and seems to be working, Wesley Matthews’ fearless defense and EVERYTHING about Harrison Barnes. But for whatever reason they just can’t make it over the hump. It’s back, back, forth and forth.

“It’s been tough. It’s just been one of those seasons for us,” said guard Devin Harris after Friday night’s loss. “We finally get back healthy, we get close, and then we have somebody else go down.

“But we can’t let it discourage us. We’re still playing good basketball right now. We’ve got a good team.”

All true.

But the “Lake Show” comes to town in a matter of hours. And despite their 16-31 record, the Lakers have a lot of pizazz and youth. They surprised Paul George and the Indiana Pacers and came away with a 108-96 victory Friday night– at the same time the Mavs were losing in OT.

That and Wednesday’s game against the Knicks are must-win games. Because waiting on them after Tuesday are away games vs the Thunder and Spurs then back home to take on the defending champion Cavaliers.

Back, back, forth and forth.

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