(First off some quick business. In response to several questions, Kate is on assignment and returns to cover the Sixers on March 12)
Maybe it's progress when one has to feel the Sixers let one slip away even though they were playing the NBA's hottest team.
Tuesday's 101-93 loss to Dallas showed why the Mavericks have won 17 of the last 18 games and why the Sixers for all their progress, still have plenty of work to do.
Dallas won despite losing center Tyson Chandler for the game with a sprained ankle late in the first half.
Who is doing the better coaching job this season?
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Total votes = 193
The Mavs also won despite shooting just 13 of 24 from the foul line. In addition, they committed more turnovers than the Sixers (15-12).
This was a night they were ready to be beaten, but instead showed why they will be a serious NBA title contender, especially in the fourth quarter.
Dallas outscored the Sixers, 22-16 in the decisive final period. The Sixers shot 6 for 21, missed many open shots and were 3 for 10 in the quarter from the foul line.
And still it was 92-91 with 1:41 left.
After the game coach Doug Collins had plenty of positives for his team.
"I told our guys after the game I thought we gave great, great effort tonight," Collins said. "That team is so hard to guard."
Dirk Nowitzki is one of the tougher matchups in the NBA. And Jason Terry picked an opportune time to score a season-high 30 points.
The Mavs have go-to players down the stretch, Nowitzki, Terry and even Jason Kidd made one big play after another, Kidd, who is not known as a scorer, had 7 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter.
While Kidd may not be the player he was in his all-star heyday, he's good enough to lead a team capable of winning an NBA title.
WIth the way Terry and Nowitzki (22 points) were on fire, Kidd might have had one the quietest triple double (13 points, 13 assists, 10 rebounds) in his career. He has 107 of them to choose from.
Either way, Collins felt this was experience prevailing over youth and while that is true, the Sixers simply didn't make many makable shots.
Sometimes we overanalyze things, but it came down to not shooting well when they needed to. Some call that inexperience.
Whatever it is called, the Sixers' recent history is not to carry the fourth quarter into Friday's game against Minnesota. It's yet another bounce-back game in a long season, one that will test the Sixers maturity and hunger as the play the role against Minnesota that Dallas played against them.
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