1. Jason Kidd riding the pine for three-quarters of the second half while Tyronn Lue runs the show. Remember the big trade? Ya know, the one I never liked? Wasn’t it because Kidd’s experience, leadership and ability to “impose his will” was made for showdowns like these? Well, let’s see it.
2. Josh Howard inbounding the ball on key late-game possessions. Last time I checked, Kidd was one of this sport’s best all-time passers. There’s no one in the league you’d rather have trigger your inbounds play. Besides, if he’s not passing he’s either setting picks or -- gasp -- shooting. The Mavs’ set-play execution against the Lakers looked as ragged as my team of fifth-graders. Inexcusable.
3. Dirk Nowitzki air-balling a potential game-winning three-pointer. I know it’s hard to criticize him on the heels of Tuesday’s heroic 35-point performance, but if Dirk is to ever mature from a star into superstar, he’s got to do better on game-deciding, walk-off shots. Seems like he’s money on “the shot that sets up the shot,” but notsamuch on “the shot” itself. For starters, how about hitting the rim? In consecutive last-second, three-pointers against the Lakers this month, Nowitzki’s attempts have fallen a) a foot short and b) two feet wide right. Just sayin’.
4. Avery Johnson on his feet, calling a play every stinkin’ fourth-quarter possession or windmilling his arm as a ridiculous reminder for his team to run. Avery’s era has reached critical mass. With inexplicable benchings against San Antonio and the Lakers, he’s all but castrated Kidd’s cred. And (see No. 2) his Xs and Os have deteriorated into dodgy at best. At Wednesday’s practice at the American Airlines Center, Avery was as surly as I’ve seen him, responding to one TV talking head’s query with, “That’s out of context … next question!” The pressure is getting to him. But is Avery still getting through to his players?