DALLAS – After a less than stellar defensive performance by the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night at American Airlines Center, coach Rick Carlisle blamed himself for the team’s lethargic 118-106 loss to the New York Knicks.

“It starts with me, Ok,” Carlisle said. “I take responsibility for this game and the way our team’s struggling.

“I’m the leader of this team and I’ve got to do a better job of getting these guys playing harder, playing more together. What we did tonight was very disappointing.”

The Knicks (3-6) outscored the Mavs, 62-47, in the second half while erasing a 59-56 halftime deficit. It was the sixth straight loss by the Mavs (2-7), who won’t play again until they host the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.

This loss comes on the heels of narrow defeats by the Mavs on the road at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers. The Mavs lost to the Sours, 113-108 in overtime, and to the Lakers, 114-113.

Thus, the Mavs believed since they were back in a friendlier environment, they could find a way to right the ship.

“The last couple of games have been well contested at the end, but tonight this whole second half was dismal,” Carlisle said. “There’s a certain pride that you’ve got to have every night in this league and tonight in the second half we just weren’t there the way we needed to be there.

“We’ve got to do better. At this point we’ve got to get angry, we’ve got to get more together and we’ve got to have two great practice days. That’s where we are.”

New York broke opened the game when it started the third quarter with a 13-3 run and bolted ahead, 69-62. Back-to-back baskets by Emmanuel Mudiay – he graduated from Prime Prep Academy in Dallas – and a driving layup by Allonzo Trier vaulted the Knicks ahead 100-83 with 8:48 left in the game.

Center DeAndre Jordan said “at times” the Mavs are connected on defense.

“But you’ve got to be connected, five got to be on a string, the entire possession for hundreds of possessions that you have in a game, and we’re not there yet,” Jordan said. “We may have three on a string, we may have four, but that’s not good enough.

“We got to have everybody locked in on the same page with the same effort for the full 24 (seconds on the shot clock). It shows when you’re not connected.”

Dennis Smith Jr. led the Mavs with 23 points, Dorian Finney-Smith came off the bench to pour in 10 of his career-high 19 points in the first quarter, and Luka Doncic finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Also for the Mavs, Harrison Barnes tallied 14 points and Jordan finished with four points and 10 rebounds.

The Knicks jumped out to a 17-7 advantage and eventually took a 33-27 lead into the second quarter.

“We’ve been giving up 30 (points in a quarter) in, I don’t know how many games,” Jordan said. “You can’t win like that in this league. Guys are too talented.

“You give somebody that much confidence, and they’ve got a team that plays extremely hard and are well coached and they can score the basketball when you give up 30 points in a quarter, it’s tough to come back from that. We’ve seen that in six games in a row.”

The Mavs turned the ball over 17 times, while the Knicks shot 52.8 percent from the field.

“I’m really so much more focused on defense that the questions about our offense to me are very insignificant,” Carlisle said. “We gave up (52.8) percent shooting again, and it’s become too commonplace and that’s not going to get it.

“And I know we can do better.”

Still, in this situation, Jordan said the key is to remain positive when talking to the young players while the tide turns in the Mavs’ favor.

“Try to talk about things that we can improve on, but you don’t want to be negative,” Jordan said. “We’ve got to remain positive and optimistic, but also we’ve got to try to teach and correct some things while we’re doing it.”

NOTES: Coach Rick Carlisle has noticed the growth in forward Maxi Kleber from his rookie year last year to this season. Last year Kleber averaged 5.4 ppg and 3.3 rpg and shot 48.9 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from 3-point territory. So far this season he’s averaging 7.4 ppg and 4.4 rpg while shooting 50 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from the 3-point line. “NBA experience certainly is a big factor,” Carlisle said. “And then developing his shooting range to really out well beyond the 3-point line is a big game changer. It opens up more drive possibilities.”. .Carlisle said there was nothing wrong with rookie forward Luka Doncic going and getting an autographed jersey from Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, which he did following Wednesday’s game in LA. “I didn’t hear about it until today,” Carlisle said. “I think it was a good thing. What’s bad about it? We haven’t had many Slovenian guys in this league. It’s a show of respect both ways. What can be bad about that?. .DeAndre Jordan played the last nine years in the Staples Center for the Los Angeles Clippers. But when the Mavs played the Lakers last Wednesday in LA, Jordan said that was the first time he’d been in the visitor’s locker room in the Staples Center.

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