DALLAS — It is proving to be the Dallas Mavericks’ Achilles’ heel thus far this season after a string of third-quarter collapses early in the 2017-18 schedule. Now, after surrendering a 39-point third quarter during Sunday’s 112-99 defeat at Oklahoma City, the Mavericks (2-12) hope to address their sluggish starts in second halves.
Outscored 39-25 in the third quarter of Sunday’s loss, the Mavs failed to keep pace with the high-octane Thunder after trailing by just two, 44-42, entering the halftime break. The Mavericks then couldn’t overcome their third-quarter woes down the stretch, despite outscoring the Thunder in the other three quarters combined by one, 74-73. And after a similar third-quarter collapse the previous night at home against Cleveland while suffering a 111-104 defeat, the Mavs will emphasis a better start to the second half prior to Tuesday’s matchup against the Southwest Division rival San Antonio Spurs.
“Well, in Washington (during a 113-99 win last Tuesday) we played a very good third quarter, got off to a good start and played a forceful third. I don’t know that we won (the third quarter), but we maintained. In other recent games we’re struggling in the third a lot,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle confessed after Sunday’s loss. “We’ve got to fix it. It’s got to become a mentality. We’ve just got to do better in all areas.
“Giving up 39 in the third was the game, ‘cause we outscored them in the other three quarters combined by a point. You’ve just got to put four quarters together in this league.”
The Mavericks have certainly failed to put together four strong quarters this season, outscored by opponents 401-321 in the third period through their first 14 games. The Mavs have also been outscored by double figures in the third quarter eight times this season, allowing an average of 28.6 points in the period per game.
That all must change if the Mavericks hope to turn their season around, according to leading scorer Harrison Barnes. And after seeing his team outscored 73-47 combined during the third quarters of the last two games, Barnes says the Mavs will have to end the trend in order to collect a bounce-back win Tuesday night.
“I felt like sometimes we just kind of got stagnant. We didn’t really get much out of our possessions. And when you’re going up against a team that can really get out in transition, can go and attack, I thought that was where our breakdowns were,” Barnes said of the third-quarter struggles.
“It wasn’t our best game,” he admitted after Sunday’s loss. “I thought we came out flat and they have some talented players that got hot. We knew who the usual suspects were. We knew [Paul George] had a game going, and we knew [Russell Westbrook] was going to be aggressive. We just have to do a better job of just keying into those guys. I thought they fueled the run. Any time you allow 39 points in a quarter, it’s going to be hard to win. And that’s what happened.”
Note: The Mavericks will now return to American Airlines Center on Tuesday against the San Antonio Spurs. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.
Devin Harris (bruised ribs) — out
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) — out