Practice Report: Rick CarlisleMavs head coach Rick Carlisle weighs in on Wednesday's loss to the Timberwolves and looks ahead to turning things around for Friday's game against Denver.
DALLAS — Returning to the practice court and eager to spit out the bitter taste of Wednesday’s 123-122 overtime loss at home to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Dallas Mavericks quickly turned their attention to the next opponent while trying to avoid the same fate.
Quickly trailing by as many as 22 in the first half of Wednesday’s loss, the Mavericks (41-28) would put themselves in an uphill climb before fading away down the stretch of the extra period. Now, they’ll try to avoid making the same mistakes Friday night, welcoming to town a Denver Nuggets team that has already beaten the Mavs all three matchups this season.
“That was definitely a roller-coaster game,” Mavs backup big man Brandan Wright said after watching his team’s three-game win streak end Wednesday. “You know, being down big, coming back, getting the lead, feeling like we had it in hand, being up five in overtime and then losing by one, it doesn’t get any crazier than that. But we’ve got to shake it off and we’ve got to be ready tomorrow. It’s the same type of challenges and a tough game, but we squashed last night today and we’re moving on to tomorrow.
“It’s an athletic team,” he added while shifting his focus to Denver. “I think they attack everything we struggle at, and they’re pretty good one on one. They’ve got guys that are really quick, they shoot the three well and they’re just a free-flowing team with really, really dynamic bigs and they run really well. You know, that’s some of our weaknesses, but we’ve got to find a way to get this done.”
But things don’t get any easier for the Mavs as the Nuggets (31-37) try to complete the sweep of the season series. And with his team in need of a boost in the third outing of an eight-game homestand following an emotional loss, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle preached to his players the importance of playing together in order to get back on track.
“Right now, we’ve got to stick together. Last night’s a tough loss and we’re a team that’s not a perfect team. I mean, we have our challenges, and the only way we’re going to overcome them is to be together and to play together and help one another,” the coach explained. “You know, that’s the way it’s got to be. Denver’s been a very tough matchup for us. They’re quick, they’re dynamic and they attack, and so we’re going to have to be great in transition defense, we’re going to have to be great individually in one-on-one situations and we’re going to have to scramble and help one another. That’s the only way, and we’re going to have to take care of the ball, because if you turn it over they convert it quick. I don’t know if they convert it as quick as Minnesota does, but they’re one of the quick-conversion teams on turnovers, so we’ve got to do better than we did last night.”
Surrendering a 15-2 edge in fast-break points during the first quarter and trailing 37-24 after 12 minutes of play, the Mavericks were admittedly poor with their transition defense while turnovers continued to pile up. Finishing the game allowing 29 points off 16 giveaways, they’ll now try to prevent that from happening two games in a row, hoping to exact their revenge for three losses at the hands of the Nuggets. And while currently sitting in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference ahead of Phoenix by just 1 1/2 games, the Mavericks hope that a good start to Friday’s contest will carry them to a 2-1 mark on their current home-heavy stretch.
“We’ve got to do better than what we did last night,” Carlisle confessed. “The start to the game was poor and our last three losses are very similar. We were very poor at the beginning of the Denver game at Denver, we were very poor at the beginning of the Golden State game at Golden State and last night was the same. It’s a 48-minute game and the momentum that you establish early carries through. This sport and this game of NBA basketball is as much a first-quarter game as it is a fourth-quarter game. You know, when you win the first quarter, it really increases your chances to take a lead into the fourth quarter, which is a great indicator of winning in this league. And when you lose a first quarter your chances of doing that go exponentially down, so the start of the game is key and then we’ve got to carry through. In the recent games that we’ve played well, a lot of them against better teams, we’ve done that and our losses have had the same characteristics, so we’ve got to correct that.”
Note: The Mavericks will return to action at American Airlines Center Friday, hosting the Denver Nuggets. Denver leads the season series 3-0. 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.