DALLAS – Two days have passed since Saturday’s preseason opener against New Orleans, and Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle remains upset with his team’s defensive performance during the 116-102 loss to the Pelicans.
"We were horrible on defense and so we basically had a practice this morning because we need a lot of work on defense,’’ Carlisle said following Monday morning’s shootaround at American Airlines Center. "We just got a long ways to go.’’
Offensively, the Pelicans did practically what they wanted to do and whenever they wanted to do it. New Orleans shot a sizzling 57.3 percent from the field and also was a red-hot 12-of-21 from 3-point range.
The Mavericks hope to improve on those defensive numbers tonight at 7:30 when they host the Charlotte Hornets at AAC. At least that’s the plan.
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"I know they’re going to be hard-playing extremely well-coached team,’’ Carlisle said of the Hornets. "I’m not sure who’s playing for them tonight.
"But look, if we go out and play defense like we did the other night, they’ll score 115 on us and we’ll get our (butts) kicked again. So we just got to be a lot better tonight.’’
The Mavericks should be better defensively tonight since they’ll have their best defender playing in his first preseason game of the year. Shooting guard Wesley Matthews sat out the game against the Pelicans so he could rest, but will be in the starting lineup against Charlotte.
Matthews’ presence will give the Mavericks’ defender a much-needed boost.
"It was the first preseason game for a lot of these guys,’’ Matthews said. "It was new, everybody is excited because the season’s back.
"We’ve been working on it all training camp, we’ve been working on it all season last year. We just got to put it together and go out there.’’
As the Mavericks’ top defender, Matthews knows defense is all about energy, hard work and going that extra mile.
"The offense, of course, is going to be rusty,’’ Matthews said. "It’s a preseason game.
"But the one thing that can’t be rusty is your energy and effort, and that’s what we’ve got to be about this whole season.’’
Carlisle is definitely expecting a defensive shot in the arm tonight from Matthews.
"I anticipate he’s going to play hard and grind the heck out of it, which he always does,’’ Carlisle said.
Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, Andrew Bogut, Devin Harris and Salah Mejri will not play tonight for the Mavs. Those five also sat out the game against the Pelicans.
Still, the Mavericks have high defensive standards they’ve set for themselves. And they didn’t meet those standards against New Orleans.
"We didn’t win the game, the last preseason game – we’re not off to the best start,’’ Matthews said. "So we’ll try to get a win and work on the things that we’ve been doing in training camp, work on the things that we were doing and try to build on the things that we did at the end of last season to get us into the playoffs and put us in position to win games.
"There’s going to be rust, there’s going to be fatigue -- all of that is to be expected. But the energy and effort has to be there.’’