DALLAS – Say farewell to another streak for this proud franchise.
The Mavericks’ 11-year run of 50-win campaigns ended last season, when their winning percentage during the lockout-compressed scheduled meant no asterisk was necessary.
The 12-year playoff streak, which was the longest active streak north of San Antonio, was snapped last week.
And now the Mavs are assured of not having a winning season for the first time in a dozen years. The Memphis Grizzlies handed the Mavs loss No. 41 on Monday night.
“It’s disappointing,” Elton Brand said. “Playoffs is one thing, but you could have hung your hat on, ‘Hey, we had a winning season at least.’ Now, that’s impossible. The goal is now not to have a losing season.”
Added Vince Carter: “It definitely is tough, but 50 percent is not bad, either. It’s not losing, you know what I’m saying? We definitely want to go out there and get a win and accomplish that.”
And coach Rick Carlisle: “I’m just disappointed for our fans. I’m disappointed for my owner. I’m disappointed for our vets.”
It was an especially difficult pill for Dirk Nowitzki to swallow. As the lone constant on the roster during the dozen-year run, Nowitzki put a lot of pride into trying to at least salvage a winning record out of this season.
Nowitzki is now resigned to shooting for .500 in Wednesday’s season finale against the New Orleans Hornets.
“I feel like we should have competed a lot better there in the second half,” said Nowitzki, who scored a game-high 26 points. “Disappointing, but now we’ve got to make the best out of it. We’ve got one more game Wednesday and somehow crawl out a win.”
1. Carter passes Clyde the Glide: With a pretty reverse layup in the first quarter, Vince Carter moved past Clyde Drexler into 27th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Drexler joined Hal Greer, Larry Bird and Gary Payton as Hall of Famers that Carter has passed this season.
“You accomplish something like that and you don’t pull out the win, it’s always tough,” said Carter, who had 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting, giving him 22,214 points in his career. “But I’m very thankful for the milestone. It’s just amazing. You just think of the names of the people you’ve passed that you’ve looked up to, played against, consider legends, so on and so forth.
“It’s just like, ‘Wow.’ To even hear your name passing those people is very humbling.”
2. Grown-ups’ table: Carlisle arrived in Dallas with a reputation as a coach who was hesitant to play young players. With a handful of under-25 players in the rotation, this has been a trying season for Carlisle’s patience.
“Look, I know Nowitzki is going to compete on every possession,” Carlisle said. “I know that Marion and Carter and Brand, those guys are going to show. I mean, that’s what they’ve done for a lot of years.
“But you know, beyond that, they’ve got to want it as much as everybody else wants it for them. That’s been the issue. Some of our younger guys have had the opportunity to sit at the grown-ups’ table this year and see what it’s like to have more responsibility. It can be a daunting thing.
“A lot of guys say they want it. If they want it, then how they show up, there’s got to be more presence. I think that’s a great word. A guy can have a bad shooting night, but he can still have great presence in the game. That’s what this franchise is looking for.”
3. One last stand: Carlisle’s expectations for the season finale are very simple.
“I am all about enthusiasm this year, really, and I’ve been very consistent with that,” Carlisle said. “But, you know, if you’re not going to compete, don’t show up at all.”