DALLAS — Besides injuries to some key personnel, lack of a solid and respectable defense has prevented the Dallas Mavericks from being the best that they can be.The Mavericks’ perimeter defense is in a sad state. The same holds true for their interior defense.That’s why a large portion of Monday’s practice was spent teaching the intricacies of playing defense.“Keeping people out of the paint is a real priority for us right now,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We got hurt with that badly against Minnesota [last Saturday] and really, it’s been our most consistent challenge defensively, so we’re working hard on that.“It’s got to be a collective group challenge that we take on. It’s got to become a collective mindset to keep the teams out of the paint — it’s our No. 1 goal, our No. 1 priority right now.”At times, it has become increasingly embarrassing how teams get to the rim so easily on the Mavericks and score almost at will. It’s almost as if there is no resistance, like taking the proverbial candy from a baby.“Some night we hide it better, sometimes we switch it up and be in a zone, but that’s going to be a piece of work,” forward Dirk Nowitzki said of the Mavericks’ defense. “We’ve got to work on it daily.“We don’t have a team with a lot of great one-on-one defenders. I’m just stating the obvious.”The Mavericks’ defense is so poor that they’re next-to-last in the NBA in points allowed at 103 per game. Only Philadelphia (110.1 points per game) is worse.When the Mavericks (10-8) host Charlotte (8-10) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at American Airlines Center, their defense shouldn’t be put through any type of torture test.That’s mainly because the Bobcats are last in the league in scoring at 89.2 points per game, and only reached the 100-point barrier once, during a 102-97 win at New York on Nov. 5.The Mavericks have allowed at least 100 points in a game 11 times this season, including permitting at least 110 points on five occasions. Defensively, it’s been an ugly sight.Center Samuel Dalembert said one of the challenges for the Mavericks is keeping defenders in front of them.“Defensively we all have to look at ourselves in the mirror and see that things need to be done,” Dalembert said. “How we can help each other on the next play, or next to you how you can help the guy to be better.“And we’ve got to continue to take pride in defense and keep guys in front of us and do a better job, starting with me and starting with all of us.”Calderon updatePoint guard Jose Calderon is questionable for Tuesday night’s game because of an injured right ankle. Calderon practiced Monday, but didn’t do anything strenuous.“He did some light shooting,” Carlisle said. “He’s doing better. He’ll probably be a game-time decision.”Calderon suffered a bone bruise to his right ankle during Friday’s game in Atlanta and did not play in Saturday’s game against Minnesota.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @dwainprice