Carlisle Sits Marion as the Mavs Lose in Extra Time… Again

17 04 2012

On a night in which Devin Harris unexpectedly figured out how to shoot, Delonte West gave Gordon Hayward a “Wet Willie” and Al Jefferson looked more like Karl (or Moses) Malone (28 points and 26 rebounds), the oddest thing to take place during the Dallas Mavericks’ 123-121 triple-overtime loss to the Utah Jazz was a benching.

These two teams striving to make the playoffs provided viewers with an entertaining basketball game, no matter where fans’ loyalties lied. Who wouldn’t want 15 extra minutes of quality basketball? Each team had players making countless clutch shots, and in the Jazz’s case, a clutch tip-in was bigger than any of the jumpers.

Dirk Nowitzki did all he could before the third overtime, putting up 40 points, which included a calm three-pointer with the game clock right on his back. Although, he is used to that type of pressure at this point in his career. Even though the Mavs came up short in an overtime game for the second night in a row, Dirk exhibited (once again) his knack for draining shots when his team needs him to score. It is easy to look at the box score and see how Dirk impacted the game, yet it’s not enough to have a full understanding. What he does for this organization can’t be explained on a statistics sheet. Once he retires and his jersey goes up into the rafters of the American Airlines Center, a gaping hole will be left at the power forward position that will be difficult to overcome.

However, this night is about another forward from the Big D… the absence of this forward.

Second-guessing Rick Carlisle has rarely worked since he came to Dallas. He has made the right decision countless times and effectively put the right players in the right situation. How else can you explain Corey Brewer and Peja Stojakovic actually playing significant roles in specific games during their championship run last year?

Monday night couldn’t help but bring about some questions about the head coach’s decision to bench Shawn Marion – the team’s best defender – for all three overtimes. Even though he was having an ineffective night on the offensive end of the floor, the versatile 33-year-old always deserves minutes since he has that unique mindset where he is dedicated to giving it his all defensively every time his opponent has the ball and actually closes out on shooters unlike the two Jasons.

Was Terry fouled on this second-to-last three-point attempt to tie the game?

During the first overtime, both team’s were shooting lights out. Each team put up 16 points in only five minutes of play. Devin Harris strung together five straight points midway through this first overtime. Repeat, Devin Harris was prolific in a basketball game. If Marion had been in the game during this offensive onslaught, Harris’s five points would not have been so easy for the seven-year point guard, and the Jazz might have been slowed down.

Vince Carter played in Marion’s usual spot during these extra minutes in order to provide the team with a deep threat. This makes sense since he hit back-to-back three-pointers at the end of regulation. However, Vinsanity ended up providing the Mavericks with no three-pointers and no points in the extra time. Even if he had made some shots, the question still would remain why Marion was not in for one minute of this crucial time. Even though a team must put the basketball through the hoop in order to win a close game, stopping the other team from doing so is just as important. (Crazy idea, right?)

When he is on the court, Marion gives his team a better chance at preventing the other team from scoring – no question. When he sits on the bench, he can only do as much as Lamar Odom. Even with the flow of the game, finding a way to sub Marion in for some defensive situations might have been enough for a few more stops against this hungry Jazz starting lineup.

The Mavs now hold the No. 7 seed and would face the No. 2 seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round if the playoffs started today. However, don’t take this scenario to the bank. Other than the Memphis Grizzlies pretty much locking up the No. 5 seed, every other slot could change by the end of the season.

During these tough two overtime losses to the Los Angeles Lakers and Jazz, the Mavs seemed tired during certain plays late in the game. If the Mavs had taken care of the Portland Trail Blazers and the Golden State Warriors before they played these legitimate Western Conference opponents, they might have had fresher legs down the stretch. Dirk went 0-3 in the third overtime Monday and looked spent as he finished up his 95:50 minutes of play over two consecutive nights.

Playing the “what-if” game gets nothing accomplished for the Mavs at this point. Ignoring bad calls from the referees during the past two nights and certain benchings, whether it was a Jason Terry botched lay-up or a failed box-out of Paul Millsap, this team had the opportunities to win the past two games and they passed up those chances.

Going forward into the playoffs, hopefully West won’t have to give any “Wet Willies” to get into the opponent’s ear head.

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