Mavericks refuse to fold despite squandering big leads

12/31/2013 9:51 PM

12/31/2013 10:25 PM

They’ve marched on into a new year with some new resolutions. Along the way, maybe the Dallas Mavericks have also rid themselves of any more unfortunate collapses.

Three times this season the Mavericks blew 17-, 18- and 19-point leads and lost games to Atlanta, Golden State and Toronto. But when they were traveling down that same disjointed path the first two games of a three-game road trip in Chicago and Minnesota, the Mavericks put up a united front and came away with a pair of much-needed victories.

On Saturday in Chicago, the Mavericks built an 86-54 lead with 31.6 seconds to go in the third quarter. But the Bulls scored the first 18 points of the fourth period and trailed 86-72 with 6:30 remaining.

But instead of wilting like flowers in an ice storm, the Mavericks blossomed and wound up with a 105-83 victory.

A similar turn of events occurred Monday in Minnesota when the Mavericks led the Timberwolves 66-45 with 9:48 left in the third quarter. But by the time the third quarter ended, the game was tied at 81.

With 6:36 remaining, Minnesota led 90-87 and had the momentum. But the Mavericks won 100-98 after getting a fortuitous (no) call at the end of the game in favor of Shawn Marion.

The two outings taught the Mavs a little something about themselves.

“We might be growing up and coming together as a team,” center Brandan Wright said. “We have a lot of veteran guys that have been there before and played together, and hopefully we can just keep building on the road.”

What happened in Chicago and Minnesota are building blocks for the Mavericks (18-13), who take on the Washington Wizards (14-14) on Wednesday at the Verizon Center.

“We showed great resolve really in two games,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “Chicago threw a big run at us, too.

“But [the Bulls] don’t have the offensive punch that [the Timberwolves] have. So this is more meaningful because of what the standings are and all that kind of stuff.”

The Mavericks are 5-4 in games decided by three points or fewer and would really rather stay away from situations where large leads tend to invariably disappear.

“We would like to be able to take a seat up 25-30 points with 12 minutes left in the game,” Wright said. “But it’s just unfortunately we haven’t had it like that.

“But we’ll take the win whether it’s by 30 or by one. A win is a win.”

NBA admits mistake

The Mavericks received a late Christmas present in Monday’s game when Marion was not whistled for a foul on Minnesota’s Kevin Love with 1 second remaining.

On Tuesday, the NBA admitted the mistake.

The Mavericks were leading 100-98 when Marion reached in and apparently fouled Love on the right (shooting) arm. But no foul was called and the Mavericks got out of the Target Center with a much-needed victory.

Rod Thorn, the NBA’s president of basketball operations, issued a statement Tuesday that read:

“Through postgame video review, we have determined that Minnesota’s Kevin Love was fouled on the right arm by Dallas’ Shawn Marion while attempting a two-point field goal. Love should have been awarded two free throws with one second left on the clock.’’

Briefly

• The Mavericks were 12-19 at the end of the 2012 calendar year, and they’re 18-13 at the end of the 2013 calendar year — a six-game improvement.
•  Dirk Nowitzki was only 13-of-32 from the field with 34 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the games against Chicago and Minnesota.

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