What happened to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night when they blew a 19-point lead and lost to the Toronto Raptors 109-108 in overtime is a microcosm of what has happened across the NBA this season.
At least that’s what coach Rick Carlisle is saying.
By Carlisle’s estimation, a lot of teams are building large leads only to see those leads evaporate and turn into losses. It’s a trend no coach wants to experience.
“Look, there’s a lot of this stuff going around in the league right now,” Carlisle said. “It’s not an excuse. You don’t ever want to give up leads because they’re hard to build, but this is one of those years where no lead is safe, no margin’s too big. You’ve got to play for all 48 minutes.”
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So why isn’t a huge lead safe anymore?
“It’s been like that really since the lockout,” Carlisle said. “If you want to try to come up with something you can say the new CBA [collective bargaining agreement] has balanced things out and there’s great parity and things like that.
“The truth is NBA games are long, you build leads and sometimes it can feel like it comes real easy. And then they can go real easy.”
In addition to losing the 19-point lead and the game to Toronto, the Mavs blew a 17-point lead and lost to Atlanta 88-87 on Nov. 29, and an 18-point lead and lost to Golden State 95-93 on Dec. 11.
On the flip side, the Mavs rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat Houston 123-120 on Nov. 20.
The blown leads also bother owner Mark Cuban.
“We let one get away Friday night,” Cuban said. “We’ve let a bunch get away. At least we’re losing games with different reasons than we did last year, and at least we’re there and we’re not getting blown out.”
Cuban remains optimistic.
“It’s crazy, we’re getting 18- and 20-point leads on everybody and we get into some of our lineups that we’re still trying to figure out that haven’t really worked together, and we get hurt, and we’ve got to fix that,” Cuban said. “But the good news is I think it’s fixable.’’
Marion gets ovation
Shawn Marion received a warm ovation from Suns fans during pregame introductions Saturday night.
It was a testament to how much the Suns’ fans appreciate what Marion gave them when he played for Phoenix from 1999-2007.
“It’s a part of me in Phoenix because I spent 81/2 years there,’’ Marion said. “I grew as a player and a man down there.
“It’s still a little jittery when I go back there and a little weird being in the opposing locker room.’’
Marion still remains high on the list of many of the Suns’ franchise leaders. He is their career leader in defensive rebounds (4,927), second in total rebounds (6,616), second in steals (1,245), second in minutes played (24,948) and fourth in scoring (12,134).
Marion’s only regret is that the Suns didn’t make it to the NBA Finals while he was there, although they lost to San Antonio and the Mavs in the Western Conference Finals in 2005 and ’06.
“Our best year was probably the year that we got beat by Dallas,” Marion said. “But regardless of if you finish second or you get to the Western Conference Finals, it’s hard to get beat there every year.”