DALLAS -- If the way the Dallas Mavericks played Tuesday night against the New Jersey Nets is any indication of what to expect in the immediate future, this is going to be a long 12 days.
The Mavs shot just 36 percent from the field and stumbled their way to a 93-92 loss to the lowly New Jersey Nets. It was the Mavs' third loss in their last four games, dropping their record to 21-14.
This was the first of nine games the Mavs will play during a 12-day span. And it was a subpar effort out of the gate at home against a Nets team that is 11-25 and led by as many as 13 points.
"We did a great job coming back at the end," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "You get into a situation where there's zero margin for error and you put it all on a three-minute stretch when you've got 45 other minutes to play a consistent-sized game, and we just didn't do it for 48."
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Jason Terry swiped the ball from Anthony Morrow with 17.9 seconds left, setting the table for the Mavs to steal a game heading into tonight's game in Memphis.
But after the ball got to Dirk Nowitzki twice, the game ended when Jason Kidd fired up a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer that missed its mark. The previous trip up the court, Kidd missed another 3-pointer when the Mavs failed to locate Nowitzki, who finished with 24 points and 10 boards.
Asked what the final play was designed to do, Carlisle said: "It was scheduled for Dirk, yes. It didn't work out, so it's on me.
"In fact, the last two plays of the game, those are on me. I'll take full responsibility for those."
With five days off since they last played a game, it was expected that the Mavs would blow away a Nets squad that's just trying to find its way through this season. But New Jersey controlled the game for the most part, busting out to a 56-45 lead at the half and leading by 13 points early in the third period.
"The focus is at the end of the game, but I thought our beginning of the game was poor," Carlisle said. "We weren't engaged defensively, we allowed them to shoot 52 percent and get a five-point lead, and we had some turnovers that led to fast breaks, and they had a bunch of fast-break points in the first half."
Brook Lopez dominated the Mavs, scoring 38 points -- one shy of his career high -- hitting 17 of 28 shots. At one stretch of the second period, Lopez tallied 13 straight points.
The Mavs didn't take their first lead of the game (71-69) until Jason Terry drilled a basket with 2:26 left in the third quarter. But the Mavs missed their final shot of the third period and their first 13 shots of the fourth quarter while going ice cold at the wrong time.
"This is going to be an emotional stretch of games," Carlisle said. "There's going to be a lot going on, a lot of good teams, a lot of hungry teams that don't necessarily have good records.
"Similar to tonight, if we don't put our best game forward, we put ourselves in harm's way."
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760