The Mavericks played hard and even played well at times. Just not enough times.
Here's a few of the scenes and thoughts from the evening that linger in the brain:
1. I know the NBA is a fraternity and most players know each other well and even pal around in the off-season with each other, even though they aren't on the same teams. Still, it was a little hard to swallow seeing Josh Howard, Jason Kidd and Jerry Stackhouse chatting, smiling and man-hugging Carmelo Anthony after Anthony had just torched the Mavericks for 43 points and while Antoine Wright was still trying to get at Denver's J.R. Smith in the post-game walk to the locker room. It's just not good form.
2. Wright wanted a shot to cover Anthony, but he was charged with handling Chauncey Billups, which he did quite well. But that left Anthony free to torch whoever got near him, which not many Mavericks did, by the way.
3. It was a curious move that Rick Carlisle took out Ryan Hollins late in the game. He'd energized the team. Similarly, having Wright on the floor for the last offensive possession was odd. He was 0-for-6 to that point and had just missed two free throws. Confidence was not high. But when a game comes down to a wide-open shot from inside 20 feet for Dirk Nowitzki, it's hard to quibble with coaching moves.
4. The Mavericks couldn't make enough shots or enough stops. That is a reflection of not having Kidd. Had he been in the game, they would have shot better than 36 percent and Denver would have shot worse than 56 percent.
5. It does not ruin the Mavericks stretch run. They still have an excellent shot to move up in the standings. Of greater import is getting Kidd and Howard healthy before April 15. Without them at or near full strength, you can forget about the Mavericks making any noise in the playoffs.