DALLAS — Admittedly disappointed with the play of his team while falling to a third straight defeat Wednesday night in Denver, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle reemphasized the urgency of the moment to his players one day later.
Looking to shake off a 115-110 loss Wednesday to the Nuggets to suffer their first three-game losing streak of the season, Carlisle and the Mavericks (36-26) returned to the practice court Thursday hopeful to spawn a turnaround. However, with the next two outings coming at home against a playoff-driven Portland team and Eastern Conference-leading Indiana, Carlisle admits that simply hoping for a change won’t get the Mavs over the hump.
“You know, last night’s over with,” Carlisle said. “We’ve got to look forward and we’ve got to have a stronger disposition, we’ve got to have a stronger posture and we’ve got to show a lot more resistance than we did last night. And if we don’t, it’s going to be very hard for us to win enough games.
“We’ve got to be better. I know we’re tougher than what we showed last night. You know, this is the first time we’ve dropped three in a row all year, so it’s a time of great urgency and we’ve got to step up and we’ve got to respond. You’ve got two teams coming in here the next two games that are among the top five in the league, so this is good and we need it. We need to step up and do better and play harder and more together.”
Falling behind by as many as 20 Wednesday, the Mavericks failed to avoid skidding to a third straight loss for the first time this season. Now, the Mavs will try to prevent their recent slide from continuing over the final 20 games of the regular season, sitting just one game ahead of Memphis for the West’s eighth and final playoff spot.
And with his team facing its first true adversity of the season, Carlisle expressed to his players the importance of sticking together and collectively pulling themselves through their current wave in order to remain afloat.
“This is one of those times where we’ve got to have character and we have to rally and we’ve got to do better, but there is no other way of really putting it,” the coach confessed. “Twenty games left now and 20 games in 41 days. It’s going to go by fast, so each possession and each quarter and period between timeouts is an opportunity to rise up. And that’s what we’ve got to do.”
He added: “Having dropped three games in a row, I wouldn’t say anything that we’ve done has been exceptionally good. We’ve had some good moments and we’ve had a few good stretches. You could make a case that we competed well in the San Antonio game but we had lapses there, too. So, here we are, and it’s a time again of great urgency and we’ve got to rally and do it together. We’re not constructed to where we can throw it all on one guy. As great as Dirk [Nowitzki] is, we’ve got to have 13 guys in uniform ready to go at it each night.”
Note: The Mavs will now return to American Airlines Center Friday night, hosting the Portland Trail Blazers. The season series is tied at 1-1 after both teams won on the other’s home floor. 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.