After the ragged performance Tuesday against the Lakers, the only reason to believe teh Mavericks would start better tonight is because it seemed almost impossible for them to be as bad as they were Tuesday.
So good news for Mavericks fans. They had a nice first half performance and took a 48-46 lead into the locker room. They were behind by 21 at the half against the Lakers. That's what you call progress.
The Celtics came into the game with 14 victories in their last 15 games and they stopped Houston's 22-game winning streak in their last game. So this is a high-powered team and it speaks well for the Mavericks that they are keeping up with them.
If the Mavs want to take control of the second half, they will need more production from their reserves. The Mavs' subs have combined to shoot 2-of-11 for seven points, with Brandon Bass leading the way with five points.
It's a good thing Josh and Dirk stepped up, totaling 26 points in the first half.
The Mavs will continue their quest to get a win against a good team with Jason Kidd tonight against the Boston Celtics. The Mavs lost their last meeting with the Celtics in Boston 96-90...of course, they were missing Devin Harris. The Mavericks will play two more home games in their current home stand before they hit the road again.
Ray Allen took part in Boston's shootaround this morning, but it's still not certain if he'll play tonight against the Mavericks. They Celtics didn't need him to knock off the Spurs and Rockets in their past two games.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers wouldn't commit to Allen's playing status, saying he won't play anyone who's not 100 percent.
Tony Allen is likely out after he fell hard on his back during the Houston game.
Since acquiring Jason Kidd, the Mavs are 0-6 against current West playoff teams. Interestingly, before the trade, the Mavs had the best record among West teams against the West and were 10-4 against the West's top eight. They were 10-3 before Devin Harris' ankle injury on Jan. 27.
Here's a look at how Jason Kidd has performed in the six losses:
Jason Kidd was the only Mavericks starter, plus Jason Terry, available to speak to the media Wednesday in the wake of Tuesday night's lousy loss to the Lakers. Kidd had just one point and seven assists in the 102-100 loss, a game in which the Mavs came back from a 25-point deficit in the third quarter. They had a chance to win at the end, but Dirk Nowitzki's difficult 3-pointer sailed wide.
Here's Kidd's thoughts on the game and his ongoing transition with the Mavs:
Q: What happened in the first half?
A: We started off pretty well in the sense that we were getting up and down, running and then we just started making some turnovers and we started to compound that with defensive mistakes.
Q: And the second half?
A: That was the team that was supposed to show up in the first half. But, we kind of got to the desperation point, we're down 25 points, so is this going to be an embarrassment or are we going to stay in and fight? Kind of like the Utah game in Utah, we got down early big and we fought all the way back to take the lead in that game. It's something that we didn't expect. We lost kind of the rhythm of the game, the aggressiveness. We shot a lot of jump shots and didn't make them.
Q: Shouldn't that desperation be there from the start?
A: We have to find a way to get stops and play defense. We just had a lot of mental breakdowns in that first half. At this point in the season, you get into late March, in the Western Conference every game is important so we can't have any kind of lackadaisical or slow starts because we haven't been starting off slow. The [previous] five games we had great first quarters and we built from there. Last night was a slow start. It's something that we have to learn from and keep in our data base as we move forward. Each game, starting tomorrow, we're playing against a great defensive team in Boston and we all have to be on the same page. We have to be aggressive.
Q: What would you say to skeptics or frustrated fans?
A: I think it's all right to be frustrated. If you're not frustrated that means you don't care. But I think my teammates were dissapointed with our performance yesterday. It's something that we as a team have to look at and we feel like we can give a better performance and we're very lucky that we get another opportunity tomorrow night.
Q: Was it just not happening for you against the Lakers?
A: It wasn't my best game so I have to look at what I have to do better to start the game and also to keep that tempo going throughout the 48 minutes.
Q: Is there enormous pressure now to beat Boston and San Antonio on Sunday?
A: We want to. These are the best teams in the league, so in any rankings or whatever else they're above us, so we want to show that we can compete with the best in the league, and we play them at home and we have that opportunity. We have no choice but to come out and give our best and if not then we're going to have to find a way to do that.
Q: Was it disappointing for you to sit out a large chunk of the third and fourth quarters?
A: I was just cheering my teammates on. They got us back in the game. There in that fourth we came up with some stops and we had some great opportunities. We had a great look in the corner and it just didn't go down. Unfortunately, we put a lot of pressure on Dirk to catch that ball cleanly and to make a big shot. But, we fought to get to that position.
The Mavericks' sluggish first half against the Lakers was hardly the way anyone figured they'd come out to start a critical three-game home stand with the Celtics and Spurs still to come.
The Mavs shot 33 percent, had eight turnovers and just five assists in the first half and trailed by 21 at halftime. One of the big problems was Erick Dampier's foul trouble. He left with two early in the first quarter and was a non-factor the rest of the way. In the overtime loss in L.A., Dampier had 16 points and 17 rebounds before foul trouble in the second half took him out of that game.
Without Pau Gasol, Dampier figured to be able to stay in the game. But, he couldn't. Lamar Odom took advantage with 17 points and 17 rebounds.
Amazingly the Mavericks had a chance to win the game tonight. Dirk Nowitzki took a three-point shot as time ran out and if it had gone in, the Mavericks would have won. Instead, they lost to the Lakers 102-100.
A victory would have mattered, of course. But even Jerry Stackhouse said the closeness of the game was "fool's gold." The Lakers clearly outplayed the Mavericks on offense and defense. The Mavericks were behind by 22 when Kobe Bryant picked up his fourth foul with less than three minutes left in the third quarter.
By the time Bryant returned, Dallas was within 12 and had a spirited fourth quarter and a nice run. But it was evident from watching the game that LA was the better team, and the Lakers were playing without 7-1 Pau Gasol, who is out with an ankle injury.
Once again, the Mavericks will be judged by what they do in the playoffs, but if one thing is evident, it's that they want no part of the LA Lakers in the first round.