Practice Report: Rick CarlisleMavs head coach Rick Carlisle looks ahead to the challenges the Kings present Saturday night, the improved play of Samuel Dalembert and more.
DALLAS — After fading down the stretch and suffering a 109-103 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers Thursday night, the Dallas Mavericks now know they have very little margin for error the remaining nine games if they hope to make the playoffs.
Sliding to 3-3 on their current eight-game homestand following Thursday’s loss and slipping one-half game back of Phoenix for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, the Mavericks (43-30) acknowledge that they have an uphill climb. And after suffering a late-game collapse against the Clippers, the Mavs returned to the practice court Friday still scratching their heads.
“We’ve let a few slip and we’re aware of it,” second-year forward Jae Crowder said while summing up the homestand through six games, “but we’ve got to keep taking it one game at a time. It’s a lot of games here and we still have a couple more here, so we’ve got to just take one game at a time. We didn’t get the stops we needed in the clutch. We knew [the Clippers] were going to make one more run there late, and we didn’t get the stops we needed to close the game.”
“It’s a hard league and you’ve got to play for 48 minutes,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle added after his team squandered an 11-point lead with 8:40 remaining. “A 10-point lead at any juncture of the game, unless you’ve got it with a minute left, doesn’t guarantee you anything. We’ve seen it all year, and it’s not just happening with us. We’ve beaten teams and we’ve come back from 10-point-plus deficits, and you see it a lot. The 3-ball is more prolific, the floor is being spaced more and guys are driving it and getting fouled more, so there’s a lot of wild-card stuff going on.”
However, despite playing a team that’s already been eliminated from playoff contention in their next game, the Mavericks know they can’t afford to relax.
Practice Report: Jae CrowderMavs F Jae Crowder weighs in on how well the bench has been playing recently, the rest they are able to provide Dirk and the starters, the importance of every game down the stretch and more.
Facing a Sacramento Kings squad on Saturday that has split two games with the Mavs this season, the Dallas team fully expects to find itself in another dogfight. Falling to a 112-97 road defeat in Sacramento back on Dec. 9, the Mavericks then were once again pushed to the brink before rallying from down 14 in the third quarter to capture a 107-103 home victory on Jan. 31.
And with the Kings (25-46) hoping to spoil Dallas’ playoff chances, the Mavericks know they can’t afford to look past their next opponent while attempting to finish up their home-heavy stretch strong.
“I mean, their team has all the kinds of things that give us a lot of problems,” Carlisle said with great respect for Sacramento’s skill level. “They’re very physical on the inside, they rebound it really well, they have great quickness with [Isaiah] Thomas on the outside and they’ve got an athletic wing guy in [Rudy] Gay that had 30-plus points against us last game, so it’s another hard game. There’s no getting around that, and I’ve impressed that upon our guys today. There’s nothing given in this league.
“We are not in a position to take anybody lightly. And on paper and on the court, this is a very difficult team for us. I mean, with a couple of minutes to go in the third quarter last game at our place we were down 14 points in our own building, and we had to scramble our (tails) off to win that game. And it was a hard game. I can’t remember the last time we had an easy game. They’re just not going to be easy, especially with the schedule that we have. So, we’ve got to circle the wagons and hunker down and get ready, and everybody’s got to jump up and do their job and more.”
Note: The Mavericks return to action at American Airlines Center on Saturday, hosting the Sacramento Kings. The season series is tied at 1-1. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.