3-pointer: O.J. Mayo owns up to another clutch FT miss

Rick Carlisle and Mark Cuban made sure the focus was on late-game officiating Thursday night, but the continuation of another troubling trend played a critical part in the Mavericks’ 100-97 loss to the Warriors.

O.J. Mayo missed a clutch free throw. In this case, a make would have tied the score with 43 seconds remaining.

The Mavs didn’t pull even or take the lead after that, although Carlisle and Cuban were adamant that Brandan Wright should have been sent to the line after Andrew Bogut blocked his shot with six seconds remaining and the Mavs trailing by one.

“We wouldn’t be in that position if I made a damn free throw,” said Mayo, who had an otherwise outstanding outing, scoring 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting, dishing out six assists and grabbing five rebounds.

Mayo is 14-of-22 on free throws (63.6 percent) in the last minute of games this season when the Mavs are within five points. That’s far below his normal free throw percentages (84.8 this season and 82.2 for his career).

His most notable misses came in the Nov. 27 loss at Philadelphia, when Mayo had a chance to tie the game with two seconds remaining.

“I guess I’m [expletive] choking, huh?” Mayo told reporters after last night’s loss in Oakland, chuckling uncomfortably. “I’ve got to get back. I don’t know, man. I don’t know. I don’t have a good answer for you. Those are the results. Hopefully I get back there tomorrow, just like that.”

A few more notes from the Mavs’ second straight frustrating loss:

1. Dirk doubtful vs. Suns: Dirk Nowitzki didn’t play against the Warriors due to a strained right adductor, a muscle in the upper leg. He’s doubtful for Friday night’s game against the Suns.

“I need that good deer antler spray," Nowitzki joked, a reference to the Ray Lewis controversy unfolding before the Super Bowl. "I don't know if 24 hours will change it much. Obviously we've got a tough back-to-back. I'm on the anti-inflammatories and we'll see if they kick in more until tomorrow, but I doubt it. We'll see what happens tomorrow night. We'll see if I even try to go. But hopefully Monday; we'll see how it responds this weekend."

2. Terrific 'Trix: A phenomenal performance by Shawn Marion, who played primarily power forward with Nowitzki out, shouldn’t be overlooked. Marion scored 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting and snatched a season-high 17 rebounds.

Marion has had 28 games with at least 18 points and 17 rebounds during his career, but this was his first with the Mavs. His previous one occurred Feb. 12, 2008 during his brief stint with the Miami Heat. The rest happened during his spectacular stretch with the Suns.

3. Center of confusion: Carlisle opted to change his starting center again. Elton Brand was back in the starting lineup after Bernard James started the previous two games.

But Brand, who had been playing well before this road trip, struggled for the second consecutive game. He had four points on 2-of-7 shooting, five rebounds and one block in 19 minutes. His plus-minus of minus-13 matched fill-in starting small forward Dahntay Jones for team low against the Warriors.

James gave the Mavs 18 active minutes off the bench, scoring six points on 2-of-2 shooting, grabbing eight rebounds and recording one block and one steal. The Mavs were plus-4 with him on the floor.

Wright played 23 minutes, including several at power forward, a rarity during his Dallas tenure. He had nine points on 4-of-8 shooting, three rebounds and three blocks. The Mavs were plus-7 during Wright’s playing time.

Chris Kaman, the demoted starter, missed his second consecutive game due to a concussion. He returned to Dallas for further evaluation.