The urban myth of the Mavericks' problems

The Mavericks own the best record, but they haven't been playing their best against the league's elite.

Updated: April 15, 2003, 5:34 PM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

ESPN.com users sound off on senior writer Marc Stein's NBA Power Rankings from Feb. 12. Stein's comments to some of the best responses are also included.

Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk Nowitzki's Mavericks have been getting knocked off by the NBA's better teams.
Even though I am a Mavericks fan, I have to say that at some point, one has to recognize that eight of the Mavericks' 12 losses have come against teams in this week's top 10, including their blown comeback against No. 10 Minnesota. The fact that other top teams are losing does not change the fact that every time Dallas has the chance to beat a top team, they fail to prove that they deserve to be with those top teams. The Mavericks have a nice record because they win the games they should, but when will they finally be punished for their poor performances against the elite? Don't the Power Rankings determine what teams are actually better than others? If I wanted to see a reflection of Dallas' pretty record, I could look at the official standings.
Andrew Hutton
Salt Lake City

STEIN: Your Mavs have some issues right now. Interior defense and rebounding, as always. Also halfcourt execution on offense and a rash of bad late-game decisions. But they haven't lost every big game as you suggest. That's a myth. They're 0-2 against the Kings and 0-1 against the Spurs, the latter of whom they haven't played in Dallas. Otherwise, the Mavs are .500 or better against every other top team: 2-1 vs. Portland, 2-0 vs. Detroit, 1-1 vs. Lakers, 1-1 vs. Indiana, 1-0 vs. New Jersey, 1-1 vs. Utah and 1-1 vs. Minnesota. The huge blown lead in L.A. against the Lakers and the two Sacramento losses were troubling, as were the endings in both losses this week (Minnesota and Milwaukee). But they have enough to handle right now without inventing problems.

Please keep the T-Wolves ranked at No. 10. Maybe lower even, No. 15 or so. Despite really being a top-five team right now, and with Wally back, they play well when you rank them low and terribly when you rank them high. Remember the No. 1 ranking last year? They were barely a .500 team from that point on.
Christian Lee
New York

STEIN: Sorry on two fronts, Christian: A) Wasn't in charge of last season's Power Rankings, so I can't explain (or defend) how the Wolves wound up in the No. 1 slot. B) I probably shortchanged them this week, and the Wolves will definitely be moving up if they continue to do what they're doing with a roster that gets thinner every year. KG and Flip continue to be a most effective tag team.

San Antonio? C'mon -- they never pony up when it counts. Don't include Eastern Conference teams, either. They won't matter in the end anyway.
David Burns
Suisun City, Calif.

STEIN: When you start 6-1 on a nine-game trip and win at Portland for No. 6, that counts as ponying up (whatever that means) in February.

How could the Raptors fall a place after beating the Pacers, Clippers and Bucks? The truth of the matter is that since the return of Vince Carter, this has been a new team that won four out of five in a convincing matter. Just wondering why you all hate the lone Canadian team.
Zach Simbrow
Toronto

STEIN: Raps are starting to win me over, Zach. And I can assure you this has nothing to do with Canada. If these rankings were based on Canadian status, Raps would be No. 1 or close to it because Toronto and Vancouver are/were two of the committee's five favorite cities in the L.

Michael Jordan and Earl Boykins
Earl Boykins, right, and the Warriors would be beasts in the weaker East.
Here you go again. How many times do we have to remind you that a record garnered in the East holds less water than one gained in the West? You say you know the West is better but don't seem to apply it, since you have the Warriors below the Wiz. The Warriors are only getting better after a 1-6 start and beat the Wiz, in D.C., when the Wiz were rested and had won five in a row. How many pundits do you have to hear say "They'd be a playoff team in the East" before you start applying the logic to your rankings?
Jon Hanson
Albany, Calif.

STEIN: Look what happened last time I put the Warriors higher. From No. 14, they dropped four of five.

The Lakers on a 43-win pace? You are basing that on their existing record. Prior to their seven-game winning streak, they were on a 36-win pace, based on your stupid formula. I think you better take into account what the Lakers have done in their last 15-20 games and throw out your "winning-pace" formula. Barring injuries to Shaq or Kobe, the Lakers are looking at no less than a 50-win season, and I wouldn't be surprised to see 55. No worse than the No. 5 seed, and potentially the No. 4. Bank on it. You also need to move the Lakers up to No. 5 in your rankings and move the Pistons to No. 6. The top five teams are in the West, and there is a big gap between them and the best team in the East.
Paul Audino
Pittsburgh

STEIN: Relax, Paul. For starters, you will get no one's sympathy here complaining about the Lakers' placement. Secondly, to camouflage secret biases and ensure that no one revokes our Power Rankings license, we have to throw in a negative Laker comment occasionally. The 43-win pace thing was the best we had.

Your Power Rankings are once again nothing but a Lakers lovefest. Excuse me, I must go vomit.
Erik Duncan
North Highlands, Calif.

STEIN: What do you think happened to Rodney White? That incident at MSG was right after the Jan. 21 Power Rankings came out.

What did the Nets do to deserve a spot lower than the Lakers? I hate you, Stein. I hate you.
Scott Mathuszek
New Jersey

STEIN: Get in line, Scott. Get in line.

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Also, send Stein a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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