If this is what a week-long All-Star break turns into, the Dallas Mavericks may want to petition the NBA for a shorter break.
Looking like they were going through training camp, the Mavs turned in a mistake-filled game Thursday night into a 104-89 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
It was the first game after the All-Star break for both teams, and neither squad looked particularly artistic. Especially the Mavs, who shot 36.3 percent from the field and turned the ball over 18 time in falling to 36-20.
“Coming out of the break we just weren’t very sharp, unfortunately,” said forward Dirk Nowitzki, who finished with 14 points on 6-of-16 shooting. “I thought there were some missed shots and bad turnovers, and then I think we got frustrated a little bit and starting arguing a little bit too much with ourselves instead of just playing and competing.
“Coming out of the break sometimes is tough; we were a little sloppy. Even in the first quarter both teams were. But they were a little, I guess, less sloppy than we were.”
The Mavs never led in this game, but managed to rally and chop a 22-point deficit to 93-83 after a basket by Nowitzki with 3:11 left. But the Thunder scored the next six points and ended any ideas the Mavs had of pulling off a dramatic comeback.
“We missed a lot of easy shots, especially in the first half, and had way too many turnovers,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “It was a poor performance, no question about it.
“The bottom line is we’ve got to be better. We got to value the ball and then we got to get the ball in the basket.”
Carlisle’s squad also must do a better job rebounding the ball. One sequence in particular told a huge story on one of the issues that has plagued the Mavericks all season.
At the outset of the second half, the Thunder took seven straight shots and got the ball back every time on a rebound. And on the same possession, Oklahoma City scored to demoralize the Mavs and sort of tie a ribbon on a night that saw the Mavs get outrebound 62-39, including 21-14 on the offensive end.
“We didn’t do a good job on the defensive boards, either,” Carlisle said. “And we’re going to have to get a lot better. We just didn’t play well, we didn’t defend well. It was just a very hard night.”
Monta Ellis finished with seven points on 2-of-13 shooting, and Chandler Parsons had eight points on 3-of-12 shooting.
This was the first game for point guard Rajon Rondo after he missed the previous six while recuperating from multiple facial fractures suffered in a Jan. 31 game against Orlando. The four-time All-Star wore goggles and wound up with five points (2-of-9 shooting), two rebounds and six assists in 29 minutes.
“He looks healthy, but he’s a little tired because he hasn’t been playing,” Carlisle said. “I know he didn’t shoot well, but it’s one game and we got to circle the wagons and get ready for [Friday.]”
This also was the first game for center Tyson Chandler after he missed the final game against Utah before the All-Star break with a sprained left ankle. Chandler responded with 10 points and 13 rebounds. It was his 24th double-double of the season.
“I know it personally took for a while to try and get my rhythm,” Chandler said. “But we just got to work better as a team. This second half of the season we really got to come together and pick things up and get adjusted to our identity and then come out to play.”
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760