It was a dreadful year by the lofty standards set by the Dallas Mavericks over the last dozen years.
The Mavs’ streak of 50-win campaigns -- or season with winning percentages of at least 60.9, considering the lockout-compressed schedule -- ended at 11 straight years. The defending champions didn’t win a playoff game, much less series, and then waved goodbye to franchise legends Jason Terry (willingly) and Jason Kidd (not so much) over the summer. They failed to lure a big fish to join Dirk Nowitzki, who has yet to play a game this season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.
But it’s not like 2012 was all bad for the Mavs. Here is one man’s ranking of the Mavs’ brightest moments from this calendar year:
5. Dirk caps magical comeback
Dirk Nowitzki added to his long list of game-winning shots by knocking down a 15-footer in Hedo Turkoglu’s face with 5.9 seconds, delivering a 100-98 win for the Mavs over the Magic.
The Mavs fought back from a 15-point deficit for the March 30 victory. Delonte West came up huge in the fourth quarter, complementing the Mavs' longtime closing duo of Nowitzki and Jason Terry, who had 10 of his 17 points in the final frame.
"We almost looked down a little bit," said Nowitzki, who scored 28 points in the Mavs’ sixth straight win in Orlando. "Guys were putting their heads down. But we're too good for that. We have to keep competing. I'm proud of the guys.”
4. Dirk drops 40 on Jazz
Take your pick of his 40-point performances against the Jazz. He did it twice within the span of six weeks, the first coming in a March 3 win and the second in an April 16 loss.
The first 40-point performance of the season for Nowitzki was overshadowed by the return of Lamar Odom from a bizarre, self-imposed sabbatical. The second came in a losing effort, but what might be the final 40-point game of Nowitzki’s Hall of Fame career still ought to be savored.
Nowitzki has scored 40 points 25 times in his career, including seven playoff performances.
Nowitzki kept the Mavs in the April 16 game, which lasted three overtimes, while pouring in 40 points on 13-of-26 shooting.
3. O.J. Mayo, the $4 million bargain
The Mavs missed their chance to sign a proven superstar, but they got a heck of a consolation prize after the free-agency frenzy was finished. Their late-summer signing of O.J. Mayo to a one-year, $4 million deal with a player option for a second season looks like one of the NBA’s best bargains.
"I think he can be a star," owner Mark Cuban said. "And I think O.J. knows that this is his make-or-break, who-am-I-really-going-to-be-in-this-league year. Coach (Rick Carlisle) is going to give him that opportunity. We'll see what happens.”
So far, Mayo has been even better than the Mavs hoped, ranking eighth in the NBA in scoring (20.6 points per game) and leading the league in 3-point percentage (.519).
2. O.J. outduels The Beard
O.J. Mayo 40, James Harden 39. Mavs 116, Rockets 109. Those are the scores from the Mavs’ thrilling win over the Rockets on Dec. 8.
Mayo got going early, scoring 16 points in the first quarter. Then Harden heated up, finishing the first half with 30 points. Mayo got the last word -- and final scoring flurry -- with another 16-point explosion in the fourth quarter to slam the door on the Rockets.
Mayo’s spectacular performance (15-of-26 from the floor) prompted a one-word tweet from injured Dallas star Dirk: “OVINTON!!!”
1. Beating LA
Never mind what we now know about the dysfunctional, overhyped, underperforming Los Angeles Lakers. Some folks had all but crowned the Lakers as Western Conference champions before the season started.
"I told you we're a scrappy little team," Shawn Marion said after the Mavs’ 99-91 win on Oct. 30. "It's going to be like that all year."