DALLAS – Disappointment was etched all over coach Rick Carlisle’s face Wednesday night after he watched his Dallas Mavericks team nearly squander a 22-point third-quarter lead to the Orlando Magic.
The Mavs built a huge 70-48 cushion with 10:19 remaining in the third quarter and appeared on the verge of blowing out the Magic. Orlando, however, kept chipping away until it got within 101-100 with one minute remaining in the game.
But the Mavs finally put the game away by converting 6-of-8 free throws down the stretch en route to sweating out a 107-102 triumph at American Airlines Center.
Although the Mavs (43-25) were able to emerge with a win, they didn’t emerge from the locker room with a lot of happy faces.
Carlisle said: "Yeah, I am disappointed.’’
That’s an understatement.
The Mavs turned the ball over 20 times leading to 29 points for the Magic. Point guard Rajon Rondo committed eight of those turnovers as he continues to get too fancy with some of his passes, and those passes wind up going places he didn’t intend them to go.
Rondo, who collected nine points, 11 assists and six rebounds, knows it’s imperative that he protect the ball more.
"If I would have just had half the turnovers I had tonight they probably wouldn’t have been in the game,’’ Rondo said. "But those guys turned us over and made shots and they stuck with it.
Carlisle said he liked the aggression Rondo brought to the court. Yet, he knows his playmaker must be mindful of whose around him and must stop turning what could be a simple pass into a dangerous pass.
"There were a couple of times the ball slipped out of his hands,’’ Carlisle said. "But some of the things were just a little speculative on everybody’s part tonight, not just him.
"He had a bunch of turnovers, but we’ve got to move on and do better. We’ve got a bunch of guys that know better and we’ve just got to clean it up.’’
Indeed, the Mavs know they have to clean up a lot of things before they play the finale of this five-game home stand Friday night against the Memphis Grizzlies. Orlando exposed enough of the Mavs’ weaknesses that a much more talented team like the Grizzlies can exploit.
"The negatives most certainly outweigh the positives just with all the turnovers and some of the mistakes,’’ Carlisle said. "But you know what, we just got to flush that stuff, we’ve got to flush it and we’ve got to get better and we’ve got to move forward.
"These (Grizzlies) just took a 10-point hit in Detroit last night, they’ve been having their struggles.’’
In the second half Wednesday, the Mavs struggled to convert just 29.3 percent of their shots (12 of 41), got outrebounded 27-21 and missed 14 of 20 baskets from 3-point range. These are struggles the Mavs can ill-afford to make against the Grizzlies and expect to emerge with a victory.
"We’ve got to just understand what we’re getting into with that,’’ Carlisle said. "Last time they were in there, they handled us pretty easily.
"We’ve got an angry team coming in here on Friday.’’