Oh and Three

Last time the Mavs stumbled out of the gate this bad at home, he was their best player.

Dirk Nowitzki can’t blame his team’s lack of effort. But he can blame himself.

Two days after calling out the Mavericks for half-assed play in an ugly loss to the Clippers, Dirk air-balled a 3-pointer and then failed to block out Pau Gasol on the game-clinching three-point play as the Mavericks lost to the Lakers, 106-99, last night.

The Lakers, who got a modest 27 points from Kobe Bryant, improved to 6-0. The Mavericks, 2-5 overall, are off to their first 0-3 start in American Airlines Center. The last Mavs outfit to lose their first three home games? Quinn Buckner’s 1993-94 squad, which went on to lose 69 games.

Despite the slow start, these Mavs will win more than 13 games. Many, many more if they play as hard as last night.

Other than Dirk's fourth-quarter donut, it was promising. Despite playing without Josh Howard, committing 22 turnovers and shooting 41 percent, Dallas had its chances down the stretch. Jason Terry was better. Jerry Stackhouse showed a pulse. Gerald Green flashed his potential. Jason Kidd, despite having his pocket picked twice in the open court, produced a triple-double. Even Erick Dampier woke up with 11 points and 16 rebounds.

But, as always with the Mavs, their fate rests with Dirk. Which, when he goes 0 of 5 in the fourth quarter, just isn't good enough.

I appreciate Dirk's early-season outburst and willingness to speak up in an attempt to prevent fissures from becoming fractures. But it's put up or shut up.

So far this week he's 0 for 2. – Richie Whitt



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