MEMPHIS — Take two.
Falling just short of claiming a victory to start the preseason on a high note, the Dallas Mavericks will now try to quickly put their 94-92 defeat Monday night to New Orleans out of their minds as they enter FedExForum two nights later to tangle with the Memphis Grizzlies. Just like the preseason debut, however, the Mavericks (0-1) will once again be without projected starting point guard Jose Calderon, who will miss the next two exhibition outings before having his strained left hamstring re-evaluated by the team’s training staff.
That places more responsibility on the young shoulders of 25-year-old rookie Gal Mekel, who slid into the first unit at the point but totaled five of the Mavs’ 28 turnovers in the loss to the Pelicans.
“Besides one turnover where the guy took it from my hands, the other ones were unforced,” Mekel said while breaking down his first NBA action. “One travel, one leading pass, and I’m not worried about those. I mean, they can happen one game and next game I’ll correct those mistakes.”
“You just tell him to be poised and be confident,” veteran teammate Shawn Marion added as he tries to keep the rookie’s confidence high. “I think he’s just got to take his time and be patient. You know, he probably had jitters in his first NBA game. It’s not a real game, but it’s a preseason game, so it still counts to a certain degree. And I think he was a little jittery out there a little bit and he’s just got to be poised. Right now, he’s got to control the tempo of the game. He’s a point guard, and point guards set the tone for everything. When point guards start the game off with turnovers, it carries on down the team. You’ve just got to be poised and take what’s given to you, don’t try to force the issue and make the simple plays. When you ain’t got to dribble, don’t dribble. When you’ve got to pass it, pass it. Just simple stuff.”
The Mavs will try to simplify their offense as a team as well, looking to cut down on their turnovers against the Grizzlies’ defense, which finished ranked No. 1 in the league last season in points allowed at 89.3 an outing. In order to do that, however, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle says it’s important to have stellar ball movement and ball security, hoping to replicate Chicago’s success Monday night while handing the Grizzlies (0-1) a 106-87 road loss.
“We’ve got to reiterate the importance of ball security and you’ve got to drill it,” Carlisle said following Tuesday’s team practice. “You drill it with transition drills and just continuing to stress the importance of taking care of the ball. And so we’ve set ourselves up to make big improvements and (Wednesday night) is one of the toughest teams to play, because Memphis really does a great job of turning you over. So we’ll see where we’re at.
“We didn’t move it that well (Monday night). We’ve got to move it better, especially considering the defensive level of the team we’re playing. You know, ball movement, player movement and hard screening. Those things are paramount to getting good shots, so we’ve just got to stay the course and keep working on it.”