Mavs focus on defensive execution following loss to Rockets

Practice Report: Dirk Nowitzki

Mavs F Dirk Nowitzki says he isn't sure if he'll make the All-Star team this year but would be honored if he got invited.

DALLAS — After allowing the Houston Rockets to thrive in the lane during Wednesday’s 117-115 home loss, the Dallas Mavericks got back to the basics on the defensive end when they returned to the practice court.

Allowing seven Houston scorers to reach double figures as the Rockets shot 55.4 percent, the Dallas defense would prove to be unstable while surrendering 56 points in the paint. And with the Mavericks (26-21) now ranking 24th in points allowed at 102.7 an outing, renewing the defensive intensity is at the top of coach Rick Carlisle’s to-do list as the team prepares for the third outing of its four-game homestand Friday against Sacramento.

“Well, our transition defense has been pretty good at times. The blow-bys are happening just in halfcourt, lining us up and driving us,” Carlisle said one day after criticizing his team’s defensive execution. “We’ve got to do a better job with our stances, moving our feet and getting our body position right, and our early-help guys have got to show more help. When players in this league see big gaps, they put their heads down, drive it and they look for the official to blow the whistle. And so it’s got to be a better effort collectively.”

“We’ve just got to do a better job of keeping the man in front of us,” 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki echoed. “We know we’re not the best defensive team, but we’ve got to have five guys working together. We’ve got to have Samuel [Dalembert] protect the rim for us, and we’ve just got to do collectively a better job of just keeping the man in front of us. It was just too many penetrations, and they were living in the paint. They were laying the ball up all the time, and it’s tough to win a game at home where you give up 117. That puts a lot of stress on the offense, and it shouldn’t be that way.”

Despite Nowitzki’s monster 38-point, 17-rebound night, the Mavs found themselves on the losing end of Wednesday’s contest to slide to 1-1 on their current homestand. After losing three of four overall, they’ll try to get back on track against the Sacramento Kings, looking to avenge a 112-97 road loss on Dec. 9.

The Mavs have won 18 straight home matchups against the Kings (15-30) and 15 of 17 overall in the series. And with the Kings already on a five-game losing streak, the Mavericks will undoubtedly have an opportunity for redemption in front of their hometown fans.

Still, after playing the Kings before their integration of new addition Rudy Gay following a mid-season trade, the Mavs will admittedly have their hands full while trying to suffocate the Sacramento squad on the defensive end.

“We’ve just got to do better,” Carlisle confessed, “and I take responsibility, ’cause it’s my team and I’ve got to get these guys guarding the ball better. We worked on it today, and it’s not going to be a picnic tomorrow with [Isaiah] Thomas. Gay is back playing and [Marcus] Thornton can go get a bunch of points. The whole league is loading up on guys that can drive the ball, so it’s an area we’ve got to keep working on.”

Note: The Mavericks return to American Airlines Center on Friday against the Sacramento Kings, playing the third outing of a four-game homestand. The Kings lead the season series 1-0 after handing the Mavs a 112-97 road loss back on Dec. 9. 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

Practice Report: Rick Carlisle

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