DALLAS -- Just getting the ball up the floor and running their offense has been a difficult chore for the Dallas Mavericks lately.
That's all the more reason why the Mavs need a healthy Jason Kidd and his leadership if they want to repeat as NBA champs.
The turnovers have come so swift during Kidd's absence that coach Rick Carlisle couldn't wait to tell why his wily and aging 18-year veteran, is so valuable to the defending champions.
"We miss Jason Kidd," Carlisle said. "This is why when I'm asked about him coming off the bench, it's a nonsensical question. And I'll remind you guys of that the next time any of you ask."
Kidd, who turns 39 next month, has missed the past five games with a strained right calf, and the Mavs are 2-3 during that stage.
The Mavs won the first two games in Kidd's absence, struggling to beat the San Antonio Spurs in overtime, 101-100, and running over the Steve Nash-less Phoenix Suns, 122-99.
But the Mavs' offense has since bogged down in consecutive losses to Oklahoma City (95-86), Indiana (98-87) and Cleveland (91-88).
Guard Jason Terry refers to Kidd as "the head of the snake" that the Mavs desperately need back in the pit to get the offense running smoothly again.
"Any time you're missing your veteran leader and your point guard, you miss him," Terry said. "But we still have enough in this room that can play well without him until he gets back, but you definitely miss him.
"Especially in close ballgames or in situations where you have the lead."
Kidd has been making gradual progress and the Mavs are hopeful he'll be back in the lineup in time for Wednesday's game at Denver.
"We're still missing J-Kidd, our leader," guard Delonte West said. "I think once he gets back, that's going to shut a lot of things out and kind of put people in their right positions and we'll be all right."
The Mavs turned the ball over 21 times during Saturday's loss to an 8-13 Cleveland team when they blew a 15-point first-half lead. They turned it over 16 times against Indiana and 15 times against Oklahoma City.
"It's ugly, especially now we have to sit on this one," forward Dirk Nowitzki said. "We have to sit on this one for three days -- that's not great, but it is what it is.
"Hopefully we'll get our point guard back pretty soon because we definitely need him. Looking at some of our turnovers [Saturday], I think we could have definitely used him."
The Mavs (14-11) are in the midst of their second three-game losing streak of the season.
Dallas opened the season with consecutive losses to Miami, Denver and Oklahoma City before winning 11 of 15 games. However, now the Mavs have hit another bump in the road in the lockout-delayed season that's anything but normal.
"We're still headed in the right direction," Delonte West said. "I don't think we've gotten off the wrong path."
West believes so many injured and sick players in and out of the lineup have made it difficult for the Mavs to establish continuity.
"We're incorporating some guys that are coming back," West said. "Of course, Dirk is starting to return to form. In a sense it's almost like re-incorporating him back into the flow."
Terry talks contest
In a news conference after today's practice, Jason Terry will announce details of a raffle where a fan will win an NBA championship ring similar to the one the Mavs recently received for winning last season's championship.
Proceeds form the raffle will benefit the Jason Terry Foundation and help Terry take his youth girls' basketball team to China this summer.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760