A day after a frustrated Dirk Nowitzki acknowledged that he didn’t think the Dallas Mavericks were a playoff team following three straight home losses to Toronto, San Antonio and the Los Angeles Clippers, coach Rick Carlisle basically agreed with the 11-time All-Star forward.
“Judging on those three games, I would have a hard time disagreeing with him,” Carlisle said after Saturday’s practice at American Airlines Center. “But it’s a long way to go. I’m very positive about our group, but we’ve got to do it and we just can’t talk about it. We’ve got to do it, and it’s work.”
Nowitzki criticized the lack of work done by the Mavs on Friday after they blew a seven-point lead at home with four minutes left against the Clippers and lost 119-112 by getting outscored 16-2 down the stretch.
The Mavs (19-14) can ill-afford to feel sorry for themselves because now they have to prepare for the New York Knicks (10-22), who play Dallas at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the AAC.
“We’re disappointed,” Carlisle said. “We let one get away, and we’ve got to now prepare for another hot team coming in here. It’s tough, but sometimes the only way to grow is to have some failures. And we’ve got to bounce back from it.”
Point guard Jose Calderon understands Nowitzki’s view, especially considering the Mavs missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 2000. The Mavs also haven’t won a playoff game since they closed out the 2011 NBA Finals against Miami on June 12, 2011, with a 105-95 victory over the Heat.
“Everybody’s got to be better,” Calderon said. “And I know [Nowitzki] is concerned, and everybody on the team should be because if you look at our record, we should have three more wins.”
Bouncing back for the Mavs will take more than just talking about it. They need to rebound better, play better defense, get mad about what has transpired lately on their home court and simply come out and do something drastic about it.
“Every team that comes in here views it as an opportunity to beat a team that’s been one of the top teams in the West for a long time,” Carlisle said. “And we’ve got to understand that, and we’ve got to meet those challenges.”
After the Mavs started the season by winning their first seven home games, they have since posted a 4-5 record at the AAC.
What’s even more puzzling is that the Mavs opened the season 2-6 on the road but have gone 6-3 away from the AAC since then.
“I don’t know that it’s a home/road thing,” said Carlisle, whose team has won its last four road games. “I think it’s just the way we’ve played. … So we’ve got to figure it out by doing the little things better at home, by playing a little bit better together, and our defense has got to be better.”
In the Mavs’ five home losses this season, opponents are averaging 113.2 points, and all five have scored at least 109 points.
“We should be able to find a way to get some stops and then protect the home court,” Nowitzki said after Friday’s loss to the Clippers. “This is another one we’ve just got to have. We can’t afford to give games away, and that’s what we did.”