DALLAS – Amar’e Stoudemire didn’t want to sugarcoat the obvious when he was asked what happened to the Dallas Mavericks during Tuesday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"We got our (rear ends) kicked tonight,’’ the Mavs’ backup center said. ‘They just came out and did what they had to do to us, (and the Mavs) had no answers.
"We didn't come out with the aggressiveness or focus or determination we needed. We didn't compete -- not playing like champions.’’
With no aggression, or focus or determination, the Mavs (41-25) got blown out by the Cavs, 127-94. This was the Mavs’ worst loss of the season and also dropped them to seventh place in the Western Conference standings.
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And no one around here is happy about it. Especially Stoudemire, who took a buyout form the Knicks and signed as a free agent with the Mavs on Feb. 18 with the sole purpose of believing this team had a legitimate shot at winning the NBA title.
"I came here to win,’’ said Stoudemire, who scored 15 points in 20 minutes Tuesday. "We're three-and-a-half games from being out of the playoffs, which is unacceptable.
"This is something that we can't accept. We’ve got to find a way to refocus, have to key into the details of the game of basketball.’’
From Stoudemire’s standpoint, the jokes stop here, because no much is at stake.
"We can't screw around in shootaround and practice and joke around all the time and figure we going to win games,’’ he said. "This is the pros, this the highest level of basketball, so we have to act that way.’’
Told of Stoudemire’s comments concerning shootarounds, forward Dirk Nowitzki said: "I’m not sure if that's necessarily the problem.
"But we got to execute the game plan better. It doesn't matter what we do. If we do jumping jacks at 10:30 (a.m.), we have to execute at 730 (p.m.).’’
In the loss column, the Mavs are only three games ahead of eighth-place Oklahoma City and four ahead of ninth-place New Orleans. And with games remaining on this home stand against the Los Angeles Clippers, OKC, Orlando and Memphis, there must be a level of concern by the Mavs in regards to the playoffs.
"We always play worried and always play on edge and we have an understanding that the conference is so competitive and so close that in two weeks we could be the three seed, and in two weeks we could be the 10 seed,’’ forward Chandler Parsons said. "So obviously we know that in the back of our minds.
‘But we control on own destiny and we just got to get it together and finish these last games strong and be playing our best basketball going into the playoffs.’’