Dallas Mavericks blow lead, lose to Bobcats for first time

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- At some point, the Dallas Mavericks knew the dominant winning streak that they had strung together against the Charlotte Bobcats would eventually end.

It ended on Saturday night in stunning fashion.

The Mavs lost a four-point lead with less than 26 seconds remaining, were outrebounded and lost to the Bobcats 101-97 in overtime at Time Warner Cable Arena.

The loss put a sour mood on a lost weekend for the Mavs as they went 0-2 on the road trip, which also included a 104-94 defeat to the Knicks in New York on Friday night.

But the loss to a Knicks team that possibly will contend for a title and the loss to the lowly Bobcats were vastly different, especially because the Mavs came into this game with a lifetime record of 16-0 against the Bobcats.

"This team has a lot to learn about winning, that's where we're at," coach Rick Carlisle said. "And this is a very painful lesson. We've just got work to do. We're light years from being as good as we need to be."

The pesky Bobcats outscored the Mavs in the paint 52-24, outrebounded them 53-43 -- 21-8 on the offensive end -- and displayed an all-out hustle for points and rebounds that made the Mavs look as if they were standing in a bucket of cement.

"We just didn't box out and they were quicker to the ball," said Elton Brand, who finished with 10 points and five rebounds. "They were hungrier and they wanted it more than we did at the end.

"Their guards used their speed, got into the lane and created problems for us. We had the game and we just couldn't pull it off, so give them credit."

It was one of those losses to a lottery-bound team that the Mavs could regret when the playoff seeds are handed out in April.

The Mavs (4-3) appeared well on their way to securing the victory when they built an eight-point lead with 4:53 left in regulation. But the walls caved in, the floor became slippery, the ball appeared to have grease on it, and the Mavs just couldn't stand prosperity.

Simply put, a litany of incredibly mindless plays, poor shooting and lack of hustle led to the loss. A porous pick-and-roll defense and lack of blocking out on the backboards also were factors in the Mavs' demise.

"There were plays at the end where there were mistakes made," Carlisle said. "But the physical pounding that they put on us in the second half on the boards was the game."

The Bobcats (2-3) outrebounded the Mavs in the second half and overtime, 36-20, including 18-2 on the offensive end.

O.J. Mayo put the Mavs up 91-87 after he made a pair of free throws with 26.6 seconds left in regulation. After that, the game became wild and crazy from the Mavs' standpoint.

Ex-Mavs center Brendan Haywood scored inside for Charlotte and was inexplicably fouled by point guard Darren Collison. Haywood missed the free throw, but Kemba Walker (26 points, eight steals) grabbed the offensive rebound.

Thus, instead of the Mavs getting the rebound, being intentionally fouled by the Bobcats and possibly going up by four points again, Ramon Sessions forced overtime at 91-all by coaxing his way through traffic for a driving layup with 2.8 seconds left.

From there, the Bobcats had the momentum and the Mavs were a mere shell of the squad that built a 59-44 lead less than two minutes into the third quarter.

"Our defense against dribble penetration was poor, and then our decision-making was worse in the last minute," Carlisle said. "They were kicking our [butts]."

The Mavs never led in overtime, but inched within 99-97 following a pair of free throws by Brand with 6.8 seconds left. But Sessions made a pair of free throws a half-a-second later as the Bobcats eclipsed the 100-point barrier for the first time in this series.

"We just made some poor decisions down the stretch," said Mayo, who finished with 22 points. "We just handed them a win that we pretty much had in the bag."

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

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