Many games get lost in the shuffle during the NBA’s 82-game marathon season.
But three games the Dallas Mavericks won’t soon forget were home games against teams from the not-so-glitzy Eastern Conference. Those games were against the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons, and the Mavericks stumbled all over themselves and lost all three games.
Had those three games turned in the Mavericks’ favor, their 28-13 record at the midway point of the season would be much glossier
“We feel like we’ve lost a few that we shouldn’t have,” forward Chandler Parsons said. “There’s a couple there that’s tough to swallow. But we are where we are. We’ve got to learn from it and continue to beat these higher-rank teams so we can improve ourselves.”
The Heat, Pacers and Pistons have a combined record of 48-73, and none has a winning record.
Meanwhile, the Mavericks are 1-8 against Western Conference teams that would be in the playoffs if the postseason started today. And that lone victory was by six points against a San Antonio Spurs team that was without six of its top players.
The Mavericks did assemble wins on the road at Washington, Toronto, Chicago, Milwaukee and Cleveland — five of the top six teams in the East. But the Mavericks’ 16-4 record against the weaker Eastern Conference dwarfs the 12-9 worksheet they’ve pieced together against the ultra-tough teams from the West.
“I think we had a good team, then we made a trade,” forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “I actually thought the trade made us better. We got a point guard that’s got a lot of experience, has a championship and is a great player for us.”
That point guard is Rajon Rondo, whom the Mavericks acquired in a Dec. 18 trade with the Boston Celtics. While Rondo is an exceptional defender and playmaker, the Mavericks haven’t gotten used to his array of dart-like and over-the-shoulder passes.
Still, entering Saturday’s play the Mavericks were seeded fifth in the West and were only 2 1/2 games behind the No. 2-seeded Portland Trail Blazers and five games behind the top-seeded Golden State Warriors.
“I think we’re in a good place,” center Tyson Chandler said. “I think we still have to grow defensively. We still have to grow and know our assignments and really get in there and battle on the glass.”
Chandler’s body of work this season with the Mavericks has been significantly better than it was last season when he played for the New York Knicks.
While battling multiple injures last season, Chandler produced 16 double-doubles in 55 games. This season, the 7-foot center has been injury free and already has 17 double-doubles in 39 games.
Chandler credits his health and overall mental state for a season in which he’s averaging 10.8 points and 12.2 rebounds and has an outside chance of earning an All-Star berth.
“I’m just feeling good, feeling comfortable in the system that I’m in, feeling lively,” Chandler said. “I feel fresh. It’s exciting to come to work every day, exciting to line up next to these guys. I’m not saying anything — please don’t read anything into this about the past — but I feel good.”
By the way, during Chandler’s first tenure with the Mavericks, he recorded 18 double-doubles in 74 games in the 2010-11 championship season.
▪ The Mavericks open the second half of the season at 4 p.m. Monday in Memphis against the Grizzlies. The game is one of 12 scheduled for Monday, including eight in the afternoon as the NBA celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.
▪ So far this season, the Mavericks have had a five-game winning streak and a pair of six-game winning streaks.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760