INDIANAPOLIS -- An extremely ugly season-long trend for the Dallas Mavericks reared its head again Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Mavs entered the game against the Indiana Pacers sporting the second-worst first-half-to-second-half point differential in the NBA at minus 10.2 points per game. Dallas stayed true to form Friday as the Mavs were outscored 55-34 after halftime en route to getting run out of town by the Pacers 103-83.
The Mavs (5-5) have dropped four of their past five games going into tonight's road trip finale in Cleveland at 6:30.
Friday's collapse had sort of the same gradual feel the Mavs have grown accustomed to. Less than two minutes into the third quarter, the Mavs were nursing a 51-48 lead and appeared to have the situation relatively under control.
But with 2:11 remaining in the third, the Pacers used a 28-10 rally and plenty of fireworks from Lance Stephenson to build a 76-61 lead and keep the Mavs off-kilter.
Of his team's third-quarter disappearing act, coach Rick Carlisle said: "We had mistakes; we had miscues. Indiana capitalized on it. We didn't respond well to it, and the game got away from us. Collectively, I think their collective will was stronger than ours, and after a really encouraging first half and a couple of minutes of the third quarter, it just went the other way."
A short jumper by Bernard James got the Mavs within 78-69 early in the fourth quarter. But the Pacers were off and running again on a 9-0 scoring run and eventually increased their lead to as much as 22 points.
"Little things are adding up right now," Carlisle said. "Little things are adding up, and we've got to put a stop to it."
Indeed, those "little things" mushroomed into big things rather quickly.
Indiana came into the game dead last in the NBA in scoring at 87.8 points per game and dead last in field goal shooting at 39.8 percent. On Friday, the Pacers shot 47 percent from the field and reached the 100-point barrier for the first time this season during regulation play.
The only other time Indiana eclipsed the 100-point barrier occurred when it defeated Sacramento in double overtime 106-98 back on Nov. 3. But the Pacers had no problems executing their offense against the gracious visitors from Dallas, who shot just 37 percent from the floor.
"This is frustrating right now," said Shawn Marion, who had two points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes after missing the previous five games with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee.
"We put ourselves in a good position in the first half. We were playing good ball, and the ball was moving.
"We completely stopped everything in the second half. Right now it seems like our trust is not where it should be at and we're not helping each other the way we should be helping each other, and we've got to get back to doing that."
O.J. Mayo led the Mavs with 19 points, and Vince Carter and ex-Pacer Darren Collison tallied 10 points apiece.
George Hill and David West led the Pacers (4-6) with 15 points each, and Stephenson tallied 10 of his 12 points during the game-changing third quarter.
It was a loss that had the Mavs scratching their heads and possibly pondering their plight.
"I don't know if we thought it was just going to be a rollover or we were just going to be able to walk over them," said center Chris Kaman, who finished with eight points and 10 rebounds. "But we didn't do the job we were supposed to do in the third quarter and the fourth quarter, and it showed.
"Basically, they came out in the third quarter and they wanted it more, and they showed it."
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760