DALLAS — Despite pushing the Southwest Division-leading San Antonio Spurs for the better part of four quarters Monday night, the Dallas Mavericks returned home disappointed in their performance after suffering a hard-fought 115-108 loss on the road.
Finishing Monday’s game with seven scorers in double figures, the Mavericks (5-16) displayed plenty of balance on the offensive end. The Mavs also attempted to lock in on defense after claiming back-to-back wins and three victories in their previous four outings. But after surrendering a pivotal 10-0 San Antonio run late in the fourth quarter that took the Spurs’ lead from one to 11, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle wasn’t happy with his team’s play down the stretch. That said, Carlisle confesses that the Mavericks left the court with no moral victories after fighting valiantly against one of the NBA’s upper-echelon teams.
“Well, there were usually mistakes that led to runs for them,” Carlisle explained. “You know, we had some untimely turnovers. We didn’t have a big turnover total, but we had some untimely turnovers that started runs. There were times we got hurt with their length and not recognizing that there’s big, tall tress in the lane. We’ve got to do a better job with that kind of stuff. And then we just had a few mistakes with coverages. On the road in a game where you need precision, we just can’t have those things happen.
“Balance is a very important thing, but it’s all a little bit pointless to me if the result isn’t where you need it to be,” the coach added. “It’s good to do a few good things, but no one around here is into moral victories, especially with the first half that we played. And then to come out and not play well for some significant stretches in the second (half) is very disappointing. We have work to do.”
The Mavericks certainly held their own in the first half, taking a 53-46 advantage into the intermission to overshadow Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge’s 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting through two quarters. The Mavs also outshot the Spurs in the half, 48.8 percent to 47.4 percent, claiming a 21-19 rebounding edge, converting San Antonio’s eight turnovers into 10 points and holding a 27-12 advantage in bench scoring to boot.
However, that all changed during the final 24 minutes of action as the Mavericks were outscored 69-55 in the last two quarters. And according to rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr., the team left the locker room disappointed with how it performed in the latter stage of the game.
“This was a chance for us to really make a statement,” Smith explained after tying a team high with 19 points on 9-of-17 shooting in the loss. “We had just won two in a row and coming on the road against the Spurs, a really good team. This was a chance for us to make a statement, so we came in believing we could win the game. It didn’t turn out as planned, so everybody’s disappointed.”
All told, Aldridge scored a season-high 33 points on 13-of-19 shooting to lead six Spurs in double figures, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing four assists as well. The Spurs also outshot the Mavericks for the game, 52.4 percent to 48.2 percent, ending the night with a 43-40 rebounding edge and 17 points off Dallas’ 11 turnovers. That said, the Mavericks know it was an opportunity lost after leading by as many as 13 in the defeat. And according to 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki, the team’s costly mistakes down the stretch most be corrected before Wednesday’s matchup at home against Brooklyn.
“We were still right there in the fourth. We had some bad turnovers against their length, we missed some good shots, and they made some big shots,” Nowitzki admitted. “(Bryn) Forbes made a couple ones in transition, Pau (Gasol) got hot, and LaMarcus had it going all night. They have some good players. We just made a few mistakes and missed some coverages. We know in this building we’re against a great team, and you can’t allow mistakes. We just made a few mistakes and a few too many at crucial times.”
Note: The Mavericks will now return to their home floor Wednesday night at American Airlines Center against the Brooklyn Nets. 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.
Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) — out
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) — out