Delonte West has always been explosive.
As a scorer, the starting shooting guard for the Dallas Mavericks is capable of putting points up in a hurry. Off the court, he’s capable of becoming a train wreck, with his highly publicized gun possession case of a few years ago a shining example.
When he’s able to separate the two, West is an X-factor at the NBA level, a combination guard who can be a significant factor. Sometimes, like Monday night against the Utah Jazz, he goes overboard.
His “wet willy” of Gordon Hayward, sticking his finger in Hayward’s ear, earned him a technical foul and a seat on the bench. It earned him a spotlight in the media after Utah’s 123-121 triple overtime win at EnergySolutions Arena. It could earn him a fine from David Stern’s office as well.
“I went over the line,” West said. “I saw some lint in his hair, and I wanted to get it out for him. Seriously, we were like two warriors out there. But I forgot the NBA is a gentlemen’s game. They want us to battle and scrap, but they want us to do it nicely.”
West went on to lament on how physical an NBA game is and how emotional the moments are. What he forgot — and failed to mention — is that the Mavericks are fighting for their postseason lives, despite their lofty status as defending NBA champions.
Because of Monday night’s loss, Dallas is 34-28 on the season. More importantly, the Mavericks are just a game and a half from missing the postseason altogether.
Dallas has lost two consecutive overtime games on consecutive nights. The Mavericks received 40 points and nine rebounds from Dirk Nowitzki, but they couldn’t get a defensive stop when needed and couldn’t keep Al Jefferson from grabbing 26 rebounds, either.
“If we could get that one rebound at the end of regulation, the game is over,” Nowitzki said. “Anytime you play the Utah Jazz, you know they are going to compete until the end.”
Big picture, the Mavericks have obviously been greatly depleted and greatly challenged in their title defense. Losing Tyson Chandler robbed them of their defensive rock in the middle. Losing JJ Barea robbed them of their point-producing spark plug off the bench.
Furthermore, the Lamar Odom trade turned into a disaster, as the talented 6-foot-10 swingman never took to the idea of not playing with the Los Angeles Lakers. And now, they are dealing with West and his volatile personality.
Heading into the playoffs, the Mavericks have two constants: Nowitzki and Jason Terry.
But with Jason Kidd aging a little too much, and Vince Carter not being the same guy he was five seasons ago, Dallas is dangerously close to having to start the roster over again. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban hopes that Deron Williams will come over from New Jersey and be his new star point guard for the next decade.
It’s obvious, however, that this team needs a jolt of energy — of something. And that jolt doesn’t include Delonte West sticking his finger into the ear of an opponent.