For some mysterious reason, there’s nothing home sweet home about the Dallas Mavericks’ dreadful performances at American Airlines Center this season.
No matter how hard they try, and no matter if the odds are stacked in their favor, the Mavs inexplicably tend to struggle at home. The latest case came Monday night as the Mavs fell behind Utah by 23 points late in the second quarter en route to a 123-119 loss to the Jazz.
The Mavericks dropped to 14-14 at home and 32-22 overall. And they’re not pleased at all the way they keep sending their fans home disappointed.
“Whatever we have to do to prepare as if we were on the road, we need to bring that to our home court,” said guard Tim Hardaway Jr., who had a season-high 33 points. “It is embarrassing, and we all know that.
“Everybody needs to get their minds and bodies right to come out here and compete for 48 (minutes). We aren’t doing that at home, but when we are on the road we get the job done the majority of the time.”
The Mavs nearly got the job done Monday – because of their spirited effort in the second half. After trailing, 71-50, at intermission, the Mavs stormed out of the locker room and closed to within 83-80 of Utah with 5:15 remaining in the third quarter following an 8-foot floater by Hardaway.
That got the crowd back into the game, and gave the Mavs some hope. But the Jazz quickly went on a 14-2 run, padding their lead to 97-82 with 1:24 left in the third quarter following a dunk by Tony Bradley.
Utah’s lead eventually grew to 116-97 with 6:12 to go in the game before the Mavs ended the contest on a 22-7 run.
“It was a very, very poor performance in the first half,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “The defense was terrible.
“The second half obviously was much better, but the biggest symptoms of our problems at home is our starts to games, and tonight we just didn’t get there, so we’re going to have to do a lot better.”
Although the Jazz played in Houston on Sunday, they had enough energy to outrebound the Mavs by a huge 45-26 margin. Utah also outscored the Mavs on points in the paint (54-34), second-chance points (13-2) and fast-break points (15-12).
“You let a team on the second night of a back-to-back come in and shoot 61 percent at the half and score 71 points, that’s not getting the job done,” Carlisle said. “It’s pretty obvious.
“It’s a 48-minute game and we’re going to have to play better start-to-finish. Our defensive disposition, effort and everything in the first half was very bad.”
Overall, the Jazz shot 59 percent from the field and converted 15 of their 35 attempts from 3-point range for 42.9 percent.
The Mavs, who have lost four of their last five home games, are simply puzzled by why they’ve been handcuffed at home while also owning one of the NBA’s best road records at 18-8.
“Maybe it’s a little bit like coming out overconfident, maybe, in the beginning, like it’s going to go our way,” said forward Kristaps Porzingis, who finished with 28 points. “And they came out strong, had a strong first half.
“You’ve got to give credit to them. We fought our way back in the second half and (fell) short.”
So what sparked the Mavs’ second-half surge? Hardaway said: “Coach getting on our (rear end). Point blank.”
The Mavs played their seventh straight game without All-Star point guard Luka Doncic, who has a sprained right ankle and could be back for Wednesday’s home game against the Sacramento Kings. Also, the Mavs lost guard Delon Wright for the rest of the game one minute into the fourth quarter with a right ankle injury.
But the Mavs won’t use Doncic’s absence as an excuse for their failures at home.
“Look, Utah is a very, very good team, and they put you in a lot of tough situations and you’ve got to pick your poison with some things,” Carlisle said. “But the bottom line is we’ve got to be better at both ends of the floor — simple as that — especially defensively, because picking up our defense will lead to much better things for us overall.”
Rudy Gobert had seven of his 17 points and five of his 16 rebounds as the Jazz opened up a 27-19 lead less than nine minutes into the game. And when Gobert wasn’t creating havoc, Jordan Clarkson (25 points, eight assists), Donovan Mitchell (23 points) and Bojan Bogdanovic (23 points) were making life totally miserable for the Mavs.
The Mavs, who got 15 points from Seth Curry and 11 from J. J. Barea, hope to get better at home – as soon as Wednesday’s contest against the Kings.
“We have to give the fans – our home crowd – something to cheer about,” Hardaway said. “It’s unfortunate we haven’t been able to do that on a consistent basis.
“We know how loud this arena gets. We heard it in spurts tonight when we were out there competing and playing hard. We just have to do that for the whole 48 (minutes).”