Mavs focus on better defensive execution while awaiting Jose Calderon’s return

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DALLAS — With his team facing its first true adversity of the young season, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle approached Monday’s practice with a defensive mindset.

Seeing the Mavericks (10-8) fall in four of their last five games, Carlisle dedicated Monday’s practice completely to the defensive end of the floor. And after suffering their second defeat at home Saturday in a 112-106 loss to Minnesota to now rank 29th in points allowed while giving up 103.0 points an outing, the Mavs’ veteran players got their head coach’s message.

“A lot of work defensively,” Carlisle said while summing up Monday’s practice. “You know, keeping people out of the paint is a real priority right now, and we got hurt with that badly against Minnesota. It’s been our most consistent challenge defensively, and we’re working hard on that. It’s got to be a collective group challenge that we take on.”

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“We’ve got to continue to take pride in defense, keep guys in front of us and do a better job, starting with me and with all of us,” first-string center Samuel Dalembert added. “You know, we just have to do a better job. It’s not just specific people, it’s all of us as a group and as a team. We can score. I mean, we can see that we can score, but we’ve got to start holding opponents. … We all know what needs to be done. Enough talking now, we just need to keep working on it and getting better.”

While Dalembert looks to be the defensive anchor, the Mavs are also holding out hope that starting point guard Jose Calderon will be available Tuesday night against the Charlotte Bobcats, after the veteran floor general missed the loss to Minnesota with a right ankle bone bruise.

Suffering the injury during the first half of Friday night’s 88-87 loss in Atlanta, Calderon was forced to watch in street clothes as the Mavs’ two rookie lead guards Gal Mekel and Shane Larkin tried to hold down the fort without him. However, despite being listed as day-to-day and being reduced to just light shooting Monday, Carlisle and the Mavericks aren’t ready to scratch Calderon from the lineup when the Bobcats (8-10) come to town.

“He’s getting better,” Carlisle said of his injured point guard. “He’ll probably be a game-time decision (on Tuesday). … Look, guys like him can help mentor the younger guys and he does that, but I’m more concerned about him and his rehab than his mentoring right now, to be honest.”

Note: The Mavericks return to American Airlines Center on Tuesday, taking on the Charlotte Bobcats. 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

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