It’s been a tumultuous past few days for the usually calm, collected Dallas Mavericks franchise due to the announcement that Lamar Odom would be inactive for the rest of the season. The experiment with the power forward failed and Dallas will move on without him, while he gets some much needed time to focus on his personal issues that plagued the worst season of his career.
The theme before the game revolved around moving on from Odom, who represented that worst part of a so far bleak season in Dallas. Amongst reports of Odom being consistently late to games and getting into recent confrontations with members of the organization, Mavs owner Mark Cuban was extremely open and honest regarding the situation.
“You can’t put the mistakes we’ve made on Lamar,” Cuban said. “We made mistakes, not him. If I’m going to be the guy who smiles with my hand on the trophy, I’ve got to be the guy to take the responsibility.”
“It’s my team, my responsibility,” he continued.
Tuesday night marked the first day of P.O. (Post Odom) in Dallas and the beginning of a kind of blank slate for the Mavs. Well, as much of a blank slate that a team in the thick of a playoff race with only a few games remaining can have. The cliché of ‘addition by subtraction’ certainly has the chance to apply to this situation, as the removal of the dark cloud that was Odom’s passive attitude potentially (and hopefully) can prove to be a spark for the meddling Mavericks.
Coming out on Tuesday with a positive performance and displaying the energy that has been lacking from so many efforts recently would almost certainly pumps some belief back into Mavs fans and perhaps even build some legitimate momentum as Dallas fights for its playoff life.
Combine that with hosting the 19-38 Sacramento Kings and the Mavs took advantage a real shot toward getting back on the right track. And just in time.
Last year’s championship team thrived on teamwork, ball movement, and an ‘us-against-the-world’ attitude more than any group in recent memory. Ultimately, those factors were what made the Mavericks greater than the sum of their parts as they won the Finals. Obviously, this incarnation of the Mavericks have much deeper issues than the negative aura of Lamar Odom, but if they believe they can find an edge with his departure and fallback on some of that fluid ball-movement offense, then this is still a defending champion to be reckoned with.
Behind Roddy Beaubois (15 points), Shawn Marion (10 points, 14 rebounds) and some timely shooting by the nearly forgotten Yi Jianlian (8 points), the Mavs got their expected, but still much-needed win.
After tonight’s 110-100 win and with eight games remaining in the craziness that has been this lockout-shortened regular season, the Mavericks sit in seventh place and need every win they can get their hands on.
For now, it’s a new day in Dallas. Whether the champs can capitalize on that opportunity or not will be proven shortly as a five-game road trip to the west coast starts on Thursday.