DALLAS – If you’re looking to blame somebody for the Mavs’ failure on the final two possessions, pin it on coach Rick Carlisle.
But the majority of Tuesday night’s 93-92 loss to the New Jersey Nets is on the Mavericks’ players.
The Mavs rallied from a 10-point deficit midway with five minutes remaining to put themselves in position to pull out a victory in a game they really had no business winning. The Mavs got two chances to win it after the Nets regained the lead with 42.4 seconds remaining, but both possessions ended with bricked 3-point attempts by Jason Kidd.
“It didn’t work out, so that’s on me,” Carlisle said when asked about the final possession of the game. “In fact, the last two plays of the game -- those are on me. I take full responsibility for those.”
After Brook Lopez’s free throws, the Mavs tried to operate the offense through Kidd on the post despite the fact that Nets All-Star Deron Williams is a strong, physical defender for a point guard. That possession turned into a scramble that ended with Kidd jacking up a contested 3 as the shot clock ticked down.
On the last possession, the Mavs went to a play that used to be Avery Johnson’s favorite, getting Dirk Nowitzki the rock above the elbow and letting him go to work. Nowitzki kicked it to the corner to Kidd when the double-team came as he dribbled, and Kidd ended up putting the ball on the floor before throwing up a 3 with DeShawn Stevenson all over him at the buzzer.
The ball didn’t even draw iron.
“I should have shot the first ball that he gave me,” said Kidd, who was 1-of-7 from the floor with his lone bucket a 3 that briefly gave the Mavs the lead in the final minute. “I had a wide-open look. And then D-Steve got his hands on the pump-fake.”
Added Nowitzki, who finished with 24 points but was 7-of-19 from the floor, including 1-of-6 in the fourth quarter: “Me having the ball in the high post, I don’t think that’s a bad play. We’ve seen that a million times. The one before that was probably a little questionable.”
Jason Terry certainly wasn’t thrilled with the plays called down the stretch, but that’s because he’s a competitor who wants the ball in his hands with the game on the line. Yes, even on a night when Terry was 4-of-14 from the floor and 1-of-5 in the fourth quarter.
“I don’t know if it’s lack of execution or play-calling or whatever you want to call it, but we didn’t get the shot we wanted,” Terry said. “That’s why we lost.”
Actually, you can make a strong argument that the Mavs lost because they let a bad team build a double-digit lead. The Mavs stunk it up on both ends for most of the night against the 11-25 Nets.
And it’s sort of a stretch for Carlisle to take all the blame for the final two possessions, although it’s in character for him. Maybe his best move in his tenure as the Mavs’ coach was taking the blame for the Game 4 collapse in the first round of last postseason, when he fell on the sword for failing to adjust defensively as Brandon Roy carried the Trail Blazers to a comeback from 23 points down.
We all remember how the Mavs rallied after that moment of misery.
Carlisle considers it his duty to call himself out in this sort of situation, even though he had two future Hall of Fame players on the floor that failed to execute. It gives him the credibility to call out his players when necessary.
“If I’m going to get on their ass about not being into the game early, then I’ve got to be willing to take the heat when the two plays at the end of the game don’t work out,” Carlisle said. “It’s accountability; that’s how it works.”