No one is happy with the way the Mavs are ending their season…except for Dirk Nowitzki

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The Dallas Mavericks are struggling right now, and there’s no way around that. The defense performance hasn’t improved with the additions of Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler, Jason Terry and Butler have each had plenty some trouble with their shooting, and the perimeter defense shifts from passable to deplorable. As of now, it’s not even certain the Mavs would be favored to win a first round series, much less make an extended run in the playoffs.

Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t mind the struggles. From Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News:

…on Tuesday
when [Nowitzki] analyzed their situation – which has included three weeks of
uneven, perhaps even sub-par, play – he saw a reason not for panic, but
for opportunity.

In fact, he loves what he sees, which is
five regular-season games that will be packed with pressure to perform.

“I always liked having something to play for at the end,
having a good rhythm going into the playoffs and not have the seeding
already done a month before and coast through,” he said. “So for me,
it’s another perfect year, just like last year.”

You can’t blame Dirk for taking such a stance; the alternative strategy of coming into the playoffs at a walk and resting starters is considered to be one of the factors in 2007 that led to the Golden State Warriors’ epic first-round upset over Dallas. Needless to say those weren’t exactly fond memories for Nowitzki.

That obviously doesn’t mean Dallas won’t try to right the ship over their last five games.  They have a lot they’d like to accomplish before the sun sets on the regular season, and maybe an incredibly abbreviated timeline will motivate a team that’s lacked a sense of urgency.

Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
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Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:

Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist suffers dislocated shoulder in preseason game

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Solomon Hill
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Preseason is only just getting underway and there’s already a potentially serious injury to report. In the game between the Hornets and Magic on Saturday night, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was taken to the locker room after suffering a right shoulder injury. The Hornets announced that he was then taken to an Orlando-area hospital for follow-up x-rays:

A few hours after the game, the Hornets announced that Kidd-Gilchrist has a dislocated shoulder:

Depending on the severity of the injury, he could miss a few weeks or a few months. Hopefully, it’s the shorter end of that timeline. We should know more on Sunday.