| Sports |

The Beginning Of The End

Why can't the Mavs' coach take his own damned advice?
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On second thought, Dirk Nowitzki shouldn’t have turned the other cheek. He should’ve hauled off and cold-cocked David West during last Saturday’s Game 1. Or, at least, put him in a headlock and bludgeoned his nose Nolan Ryan-style. That way, we’d have at least one decent memory from Mavs-Hornets. And so what if the retaliation would’ve gotten Dirk suspended for last night’s Game 2. What, the Mavs would’ve lost by 30 instead of twenty-stinkin’-four? At least the American Airlines Center would be revved up for Friday’s Game 3. As it is, feels like it’ll be just an appetizer to Stars-Sharks Game 1, eh?

I’ll have much more in this week’s dead tree version of Unfair Park on why this series should be the final nail in Avery Johnson’s coffin. But isn’t it obvious? Three days to adjust and counter-punch and X's and O's and -- 127 points? The Mavs are now 2-10 in their last 12 playoff games, with six of those losses by 10-plus points.

In the last three halves against the Hornets, they’ve been out-scored a whopping 191-147. Jason Kidd is more background extra than leading man, Josh Howard is in accelerated regression (and to think, not long ago I loved the guy), and everybody not named Dirk Nowitzki or Brandon Bass just didn’t seem to give a damn last night.

I know, I know. The Hornets haven’t won in Dallas since 1998, and the Mavs were 34-7 at home this season. The series isn’t technically over. But listen to Dirk’s stinging indictment, and it’s over. The series. The season. The Avery Era.

“We didn't play with a lot of enthusiasm,” Dirk said after the game. “Collectively, we just have to have more fire, really get after them a little more.”

Bonehead strategy be damned, the Lil’ General with the best-selling self-help book can’t motivate his team to play with a competitive fire in this setting?

I never liked the Kidd trade. But even I didn’t predict the depths of this implosion. --Richie Whitt

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