NEW ORLEANS -- With so much negativity swirling around the Dallas Mavericks involving Lamar Odom and his assignment to the D-League, the last thing they needed was this.
A four-game losing streak.
The defending world champions are looking nothing like defending world champs, especially after the Mavs were given another black eye with Friday night's 97-92 loss to the New Orleans Hornets before 15,568 at the New Orleans Arena.
It was the fifth loss in the past six games for the Mavs, and the first time this season they've lost four games in a row.
"Well, we've got to first realize we're not that good," Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd said.
"So we've got to play hard, and we're not doing that right now. We've got to fight and stay together, but we're not as good as we think.''
The Mavs are 21-16 and haven't won a game since beating a short-handed Boston Celtic squad 89-73 on Feb. 20.
The Hornets outrebounded the Mavs 50-34 as they kept hustling and coming up with the loose balls.
Coach Rick Carlisle was so disgusted when Al-Farouq Aminu grabbed three offensive rebounds on one sequence, he signaled for a timeout.
"We have to fight our way out of this," Carlisle said. "The margins for error are very slim and we had four or five turnovers that really came at a bad time. Those make a big difference in a game like tonight."
Carlisle even benched Jason Terry for a long stretch in the fourth quarter. Terry came out with 10:01 left in the game and didn't return until there were 17.9 seconds left.
Carlisle said it was his decision to bench Terry, who was 1 of 9 from the field and scored only two points.
"I'm here to make shots," Terry said. "I didn't make none."
Despite their poor play, the Mavs -- in large part due to the season-high 25 points from Rodrigue Beaubois -- still had a shot to win. Beaubois' layup put Dallas within 91-89 with 40.3 seconds left.
But Jarrett Jack scored with 17.9 seconds to go, Vince Carter air-balled a 3-pointer, and Jack sank a pair of free throws.
Dirk Nowitzki, who was 7 of 19 from the field, and committed six turnovers to go with his 19 points, said there's no reason to panic.
"There's always some highs and some extremely lows in a long season, and if you look at this season it's especially crazy, there's so many games," Nowitzki said.
"We can't hang our heads now. Right now we're in a grind and we've got to find our way out, and hopefully some home cooking [tonight]."
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760