After coughing up a 19-point lead Friday and losing at home to Toronto, and then losing by 15 to Phoenix a day later, Dirk Nowitzki almost sounded embarrassed by the way the Dallas Mavericks played defense in those two games.
“We’ve got to get some stops when we have to,” Nowitzki said. “We’ve got to be better defensively.
“We’ve got to scramble better, we’ve got to run teams off the three-point line, help the helper, all that stuff that you need to do to be a good defensive team. And obviously rebound.”
The Raptors shot 46.2 percent from the field and converted 11 of 21 3-pointers in rallying from 19 down to beat the Mavs in overtime 109-108. Toronto also won the rebound battle 46-45.
Meanwhile, the Suns shot 51.2 percent from the field, made 15 of 30 3-pointers and won the rebounding game 45-36 en route to hammering the Mavs 123-108. It was the most points the Mavs have allowed this season.
“I think we started the month off pretty good,” Nowitzki said. “We had some good defensive outings.
“We held some teams in the low 40s (in field-goal shooting), and that’s our goal — hold the other teams definitely below 45, 44 percent shooting. I think that’s a good number for us, so, yeah, [lackluster defense against Toronto and Phoenix were] a little frustrating and a little disappointing.’’
The Mavs started December by holding Charlotte to 38.5 percent shooting and 3 of 17 from 3-point range in an 89-82 victory over the Bobcats. Then they held New Orleans to 40.4 shooting and 7 of 22 from behind the 3-point arc during a 100-97 win over the Pelicans.
Mavs’ time coming?
After the Mavs missed out on Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard in free agency over the past two summers, ex-Mavs coach Don Nelson believes the summer of 2014 will be the charm for Dallas.
“Who wouldn’t want to come and play for Dallas?” Nelson asked. “I’ve said that for years.
“I can’t believe that Dallas isn’t getting more great free agents, because it’s such a great place to play. You’ve got an owner that spends money and is a players’ kind of owner, and you’ve got [president] Donnie [Nelson] there who knows talent.”
Coming off his rookie season, Jae Crowder was asked by the Mavs to trim his weight a bit so he could be more effective.
“We challenged him to drop 20 pounds,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He moved well [last year], but we felt like he could get lighter and be quicker and more dynamic and that would help his overall game, and he did it.
“He dug into a diet and workout regiment and he stuck with it and he’s been disciplined in his nutritional stuff. That’s really helped improved his overall game.”
Special day off
The Mavs will be off Christmas Day and, like most of his teammates, center Brandan Wright plans to relax and spend some time with his family.
“A lot of people get caught up with the gifts and the Christmas lights and stuff like that,” Wright said. “But the true meaning of [Christmas] is the birth of Christ, which I take very seriously, and you just celebrate that.”