(Credit: Getty Images)

(Credit: Getty Images)

BOSTON (CBSDFW.COM) – “You just can’t turn the ball over and win,” said Dallas’ O.J. Mayo after Wednesday’s 117-115 double-OT loss at Boston.”Look at the stats… 28 (turnovers). … We had so many opportunities to take control of that game and win.’’

In fact, there were 28 opportunities to take control and win. Take away just one giveaway, and…

This was “SmallestBall,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle relying on a quintet of 6-6 Shawn Marion at center, 6-5 Vince Carter and 6-4 Mayo on the wings, and within-a-whisker-of-6-foot Darren Collison and Derek Fisher — with D-Fish assigned the impossible task of checking Paul Pierce.

Carlisle conceded that the use of SmallestBall is “not a panacea … (but) “what I am is encouraged. Because to have 28 turnovers and give up 34 points off turnovers and be in the game with this team is an encouraging sign. It means we have lot of positive upside to us. And we got to find it, with efficiency. And we can do it. I believe in these guys. They showed a lot of guts hanging in this thing.”

But this 117-115 double-OT loss at Boston, as remarkable as it was, will be remembered a single number: 28.

This is a dubious achievement. A little DallasBasketball.com/FOXSportsSouthwest research and we learn that since the 1985-86 season, the Mavs are now 2-4 in games they have at least 28 turnovers. The last time they had 28 turnovers was on Dec. 1, 1993, against the Lakers. And the last time the Mavs won a game in which they committed 28-or-more turnovers? That was Dec. 27, 1988.

So, yeah. To have witnessed a win here would’ve been a once-in-a-quarter-century “special.”

Forget the Jason Terry “revenge” thing. Jet, the Mav-turned-Celtic, was not a major factor with his 10 points. (And won’t be a factor in the AAC rafters, we might add, until after Derek Harper is). Forget sticking with SmallestBall in the future; this piling up of minutes (with Dahntay Jones the other guy who took a turn after Fish fouled out) was a fluke, probably necessitated in part by the bum ankle of Chris Kaman (12 points and five rebounds). Oh, and forget the Mavs’ three-game winning streak, too, Dallas slipping to 11-11 on the season with a Friday/Saturday b-2-b at Toronto and Minnesota on the horizon.

But is this something to build on? Maybe so, in part because the suicidal turnover issue will subside once Dirk is no longer a spectator. Presently, Mayo is being asked to be facilitator, creator and No. 1 option. Against Boston, that pressure left him with as many turnovers and field goals (six) with four minutes left in regulation. O.J. ended with nine, backcourt mate Darren Collison contributing seven more.

“If we have (only) 20 turnovers, we win that game,” said Vince Carter, a statement as deeply true as it is absurd-sounding on the surface.

Dallas kept answering offensively, Mayo’s creativity (and 24 points), Collison’s coast-to-coast speed (and 20 points) and a big Carter three (part of his 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists) all part of the arsenal. But the Mavs labored furiously to control Rajon Rondo (16 points, 15 assists and nine rebounds) and Paul Pierce (34 points). For much of the final three periods, Fisher tried to guard Pierce, with turns from Jones. With a conventional lineup, that job might go to Shawn Marion (who returned from two games missed with a groin problem with 16 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists). But because of SmallestBall, Trix was the “center,” required to deal with the likes of Kevin Garnett.

Everything about Dallas was tiny … except all those giveaways, which mark the fifth time this season that the Mavs have eclipsed what Carlisle might call the “catastrophic” level of 20 turnovers in a game. Theoretically, “SmallestBall” should mean better ball-handling, better decision-making, higher BBIQ. But no.

“We had so many opportunities to take control of that game and win,” said O.J., and he’s right. But the Mavs had 28 opportunities to lose … and put every one of them to unfortunate use.

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