WASHINGTON – After surprisingly suffering consecutive losses by 30 or more points, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle had the perfect medicine to fix whatever ails his squad.
“We needed a hard, aggressive practice today, which we had, and we need to move forward,” Carlisle said after Tuesday’s workout at the Washington Wizards’ practice facilities. “Bad games are no fun.
“We’ve got to deal with realities and work to get better and then move forward and be positive. And that’s what we did today.”
The Mavs are in the uncustomary position of doing interviews after losing, 111-81, at home to Memphis this past Saturday, and following that up with Monday’s 127-88 loss on the road to the Brooklyn Nets. The Mavs (27-36) are hopeful of getting things ironed out by the time they face the Wizards (26-37) on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Capital One Arena.
“In the NBA you’ve got to move on,” forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “You’ve got to watch some of that stuff, get some positives out as much as we can and move on. The next night’s coming at you.
“Washington is playing the same way – small, athletic, coming at you type of game — and we just got to do a better job of keeping them out of the paint better than yesterday, containing the ball and finding out the shooters. We can’t let our offense dictate our defense.”
Carlisle described solving this puzzle in another manner.
“You’ve just got to circle the wagons and get them together,” he said, referring to his players. “You’ve got to stay positive to a large degree, but we all got to be truthful about the realities.
“We’ve got to play with more force and we’ve got to play better together.”
The Mavs have lost eight of their last 12 games, and they relinguished 120 or more points in five of those losses. That has been a major point of emphasis.
“It’s tough, it’s frustrating, but like I said, the NBA season is a long ride, lots of ups and downs and we’ve just got to be a little better defensively,” Nowitzki said. “We’re giving up obviously a 120 almost every night and that’s tough to win consistently if you’re giving up that many points.
“If you can keep the opponents around 100, then I think we give ourselves a better chance.”
Of course, the Mavs knew there probably would have been some difficult times after they took the unprecedented move of trading away four of their five starters some five weeks ago.
On Jan. 31 the Mavs traded Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and a pair of first-round draft picks to the New York Knicks for Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Courtney Lee. And on Feb. 6 the Mavs traded Harrison Barnes to the Sacramento Kings for Justin Jackson and Zach Randolph, the latter whom the Mavs subsequently waived.
Since the trade with the Knicks the Mavs are just 4-9. However, the trades were made with a keen eye on the future health of this franchise — that includes clearing salary cap space. Also, Porzingis won’t play until next season as he continues to recover from a torn left anterior cruciate ligament surgery.
“Listen, we traded away four of our five starters,” Nowitzki said. “That’s not like we were all of a sudden going to win every game from here on out. This deal that we made was for the future. Sometimes you have to take a step back to take a step forward.
“KP is not going to play all year. He’s the main piece why we made this trade. Obviously we’re going to think there’s going to be some tough losses, but it’s the way we’ve been losing I think more than anything. . .and obviously some of the frustration comes in when you lose by 30 at home and get down by (44) on the road. I think that’s the frustrating part. Not that we were losing, but like I said, we’ve gone the young route and we’re set up well for the future, but even though right now we’re struggling a bit.”