NEW YORK -- Blame this loss on the backcourt that had been such a bright spot during the Dallas Mavericks’ surprising start.
Put it on the pair of 25-year-olds who had played so phenomenally well during the Mavs’ 4-1 start that folks started buzzing about Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo possibly being foundation pieces for the franchise’s future.
They all but wrestled each other in the Madison Square Garden visitors’ locker room for the biggest share of accountability after the Mavs’ 104-94 loss Friday to the undefeated New York Knicks.
“I’m really, really disappointed in my performance tonight,” said Collison, who had as many turnovers as points (four) and was 1-of-8 from the floor. “I promise you that I’ll be in full-mode attack next game. I felt like I let my team down tonight.”
Give Collison credit for manning up after his first poor performance as a Maverick. However, Mayo didn’t want to hear that this loss was all Collison’s fault.
“No way,” Mayo said. “I think it’s on me, too.”
His point is well taken, too. Mayo led the Mavs with 23 points, but the eight turnovers he committed were killers.
It’s hard to beat a good team, especially on the road, when you commit 20 turnovers. The Mavs’ starting guards know it’s unacceptable for them to combine for 12 of those.
“Some of them were just bonehead mistakes,” said Mayo, who cooled off when he got into foul trouble after a scorching start. “Like, when I have two fouls and (Jason) Kidd steps over and takes a charge, double-dribbling in the backcourt, get in traffic and try to make a pass when I probably had the shot. Just some bonehead things.”
Mayo put the Mavs on his back early in the game, scoring 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting (4-of-6 from 3-point range) in the first half despite sitting the final 8:56 of the second quarter due to foul trouble. He never regained his rhythm after halftime, missing six of eight shots from the floor in the second half.
Collison, on the other hand, just never got going as a scorer. Matched up with Raymond Felton, not the future Hall of Fame point guard Collison replaced, Collison finished with eight assists but didn’t get a bucket until the final minute after the outcome had been decided.
“We just made a lot of mistakes as a team, so his 1-for-8 shows up and everybody’s looking at it because he’s been scoring points, but his job isn’t necessarily to score points every night,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s to run the team and be efficient. We struggled in a lot of areas tonight. He had a rough game.”
Added Collison, who had scored in double figures in the previous five games: “It starts with me. It absolutely starts with the point guard. I’ll make sure my performance is better than it was tonight so we get this thing rolling.”
Honestly, a Mavs win would have been a major upset, especially with the only two contributors from the 2011 title team who remain on the roster watching from home while nursing sore knees.
But Collison and Mayo weren’t interested in discussing how much of a difference Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion might have made. They looked forward to getting on the team flight and watching the film, dissecting what they did wrong in a game they felt they should have won.