Game 38: Mavs at Thunder

GAME RECAP: Mavericks 116, Thunder 113

Harrison Barnes leads the Mavericks with 24 points as Dallas takes down Oklahoma City 116-113. Russell Westbrook had a triple-double for the Thunder with 38 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists.

Game 36: Mavs at Pacers

Patented Dirk

Dirk Nowitzki scores on his patented one-legged, step-back jumper.

Despite returning home after winless road trip, Mavs were encouraged by positive signs of improved play

DALLAS — Despite returning home after a winless three-game road trip, the Dallas Mavericks say they saw encouraging signs that they hope to build on moving forward.

Suffering a 97-90 defeat last Wednesday in Boston against the NBA-best Celtics to begin their road trip, the Mavericks (7-20) failed to bounce back two nights later while falling to a hard-fought 109-102 loss Friday at Milwaukee. The Mavs then came up short in an attempt to right the ship Sunday in Minnesota, slipping to 0-3 in the season series with the Timberwolves after a 97-92 defeat. Now, the Mavericks will look to get on track Tuesday during the third showdown of the season with the in-state rival San Antonio Spurs. But after failing to close out their last three games, 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki admits that the Mavs will have work to do in order to get over the hump.

“You know, it feels like we’re shooting ourselves in the foot,” Nowitzki explained after Sunday’s loss. “Every time we’re right there, you know, it’s a bad turnover, a guy makes a tough shot, or they make a layup after we don’t box out. It’s just little things here and there, and three tough ballgames in a row. It’s just not going to get it done, but we’re obviously encouraged by what we did these three games. We’ve just got to find ways when we’re right there to get over the hump. … I just feel like every time we’re right there we just can’t get over the hump.”

The Mavericks held fourth-quarter leads in each of the last three games, failing to take advantage of the opportunities as their opponents staged furious rallies. That was again the case Sunday night in Minnesota as the Mavs struggled to keep the Timberwolves off the glass for four quarters.

The Timberwolves outshot the Mavericks for the game, 50 percent to 45.7 percent, adding a 45-33 rebounding advantage. Perhaps more importantly, Minnesota converted 20 second-chance points, overshadowing the Timberwolves’ 18 turnovers. The Mavs will now attempt to execute better against the rival Spurs (19-8). But after suffering two losses at the hands of the Spurs by a total of 13 points last month, the Mavericks know they will have to take advantage of every opportunity Tuesday night on their home floor.

“It’s just little things. I can remember off the top of my head at least five missed layups right in front of the basket point blank (against Minnesota), so that’s 10 points right there in a one-possession ballgame,” veteran swingman Wesley Matthews explained. “That team has been scoring a lot of points in their wins. They finished with under 100, and we were fouling. It’s really been coming down to us. … We’ve been getting the stops that we need. It’s just the uncharacteristic misses on our part.”

“We had great opportunities. We just have to keep getting them,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle confessed. “The biggest issue (Sunday night) was the rebounding. We knew it was going to be a problem, and the 16 second-chance points in the first half was a killer. But we still had a one-point lead, and in the second half we did a lot better. But they’re a good team. They made some plays, and we have to get the ball in the basket a little more and get a few more boards.”

Note: The Mavericks will now return to their home floor on Tuesday night at American Airlines Center against the San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio leads the season series 2-0. That 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.

Injury updates:

Dennis Smith Jr. (left hip strain) — out
Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) — out
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) — out
Nerlens Noel (left thumb surgery) — not with the team

Game 27: Mavs at Timberwolves

Ferrell Physical Lay-In

Yogi Ferrell uses the handles to get by Jeff Teague, then beats Karl-Anthony Towns for a lay-in.

Game 26: Mavs at Bucks

Shootaround: Dirk Nowitzki

Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki talks about Giannis Antetokounmpo's season and gives his thoughts on Maxi Kleber's emergence as a starter!

Game 25: Mavs at Celtics

Kleber Floater

Wesley Matthews gets the bounce pass to Maxi Kleber under the rim to sink the floater.

Game 42: Mavs at Spurs

McGee Slam

JaVale McGee takes the pass and finishes with a nice slam.