“We weren’t alert, we weren’t rotating quickly enough, We weren’t fighting hard enough,” Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said in an attempt to summarize a disastrous second quarter in Brooklyn. “That’s pretty clear. You can’t have an off quarter in this league competitively. I’m afraid that’s what happened in the second quarter.”
Ah, yes, but I'm afraid it's what happened to some degree in other moments of this loss, too -- and in other moments of too many other losses for 25-20 Dallas.
This ends up being a 1-2 road trip against three beatable clubs. The Mavs nearly blew a huge lead against hapless Cleveland on Monday but hung on to win. They had another huge lead at .500 Toronto and, as it their habit, blew it and lost. And here, they gave up 39 points in the second quarter, allowed somebody named "Mirza Teletovic'' to score a career-high 34 points, and found themselves having to strategize riskily and unsuccessfully in the final seconds to lose to rookie coach Jason Kidd's mediocre Nets.
“We expected to go 3-0 this week, plain and simple,” Vince Carter said. “I don’t really care what anybody else really thinks, it’s what we felt like we could accomplish, and we didn’t get the job done.''
I'm not sure where Vince sees phantom naysayers; he's far from alone in believing Dallas is fully capable of beating Cleveland, Toronto and Brooklyn. It's not that observers don't believe they can play better than those teams.
It's that they don't.
The Mavericks did have a late opportunity to salvage this thing after Paul Pierce missed two free throws with 8.6 seconds to go and the Nets up three. The Nets fouled Dirk Nowitzki on the other end before he could shoot, sending him to the line. Dirk hit the first (making it 105-103) and then intentionally missed the second. ... the idea being that with that small amount of time remaining, the Mavs were more likely to get an offensive rebound off a free throw that they were to catch up in a last-second charity-stripe exchange.
“You got a choice,” said Carlisle, who's options were narrowed by the fact he was out of timeouts. “You can make the free throw and try to get it back without being able to advance the ball. We went for the miss, and we got a hand on it, but at that point the percentages are tough either way.''
The Mavs (7-7 in the month of January and in the No. 8 spot in the West) will try to get some percentages in their favor as they return home for a bunch of AAC games that begin Sunday against Detroit. Dallas doesn't have another roadie until Feb. 5.
Now we’re home for 10 days, which we haven’t been in a while,” said Nowitzki, who sat out the loss at Toronto and on Friday was wearing that right knee sleeve while scoring 18 points. "The NBA schedule-makers) got us pretty good here with the schedule the last few weeks, I’ve got to admit. We’ve got to take care of our home court.”