Mavs try to regroup after rough trip

DALLAS -- If the Dallas Mavericks miss the playoffs this season for the first time since 2000, they might look back on last week's three-game road trip as the reason.

The Mavericks came crawling back to Dallas early Sunday morning after a four-day swing that began in Boston with a 117-115 double-overtime loss. That was followed by a disastrous 95-74 loss to a Toronto Raptors team that had the second-worst record in the NBA.

Dallas ended the trip Saturday in Minnesota with a 114-106 loss in overtime.

All three games were winnable for the Mavericks (11-13), who play host to Philadelphia on Tuesday.

"It's tough to sum it up," guard Derek Fisher said. "It's a long season and there are shorter stretches when you're going to have some difficulties, and we obviously had them on this trip.

"But hopefully we can still -- through all the chaos and noise and maybe some of the negative questions in our minds -- we can focus on some of the positives that were shown out there and realize that the difference between winning and losing really is in our control."

The Mavs take solace from the fact that they were still in the game against Boston despite committing a season-high 28 turnovers. But coach Rick Carlisle said his team lacked energy when it committed 17 turnovers and lost to the lowly Raptors.

Then, in the setback to the Kevin Love-less Timberwolves, the Mavs broke out to a 31-18 lead late in the first period, but turned the ball over another 20 times to finish a disappointing trip.

"Yeah, 0-3 is not what we're playing for and it's very disappointing," Carlisle said. "But we've got to regroup; we've got some home games coming up and they're very important.

"We've got one quality day of practice and we've got to get a lot out of that, and we've got to regroup and keep going."

The Mavs must recover against some tough opponents later in the week, including the NBA champion Miami Heat at home Thursday and at Memphis on Friday. The rugged schedule makes the three losses seem even more costly.

"It's three losses in a row, and all losses are frustrating," forward Shawn Marion said. "The thing is at least we try to compete to the end, and that's all you can ask."

Maybe, but the Mavs can ill afford not to take advantage of games that are there for the taking.

"Those losses will put you behind," forward Elton Brand said. "The two overtime losses is disheartening.

"We had a little more energy [against Minnesota] and a little more fight than in that Toronto game. But we have to do better [and] we have to find a way."

And find a way soon, because the schedule isn't getting any easier.

"Obviously we got knocked off our square a little bit, but it's a long season," guard O.J. Mayo said "You don't ever want to lose multiple games in a row.

"Just like you lose them, you can win them and string out some wins. So it's about us staying focused and continuing playing hard."

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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