Some fire finally came out of the Dallas Mavericks’ locker room after they suffered their fifth loss in the last nine games.
And it came from an unlikely source.
Amar’e Stoudemire, who took a buyout from the New York Knicks and signed a free-agent contract with the Mavs on Feb. 18, wasn’t exactly in a jolly mood after the Golden State Warriors defeated Dallas in workmanlike fashion 104-89 before a Friday night sellout crowd of 19,596 at Oracle Arena.
It was the second straight night the Mavs’ offense disappeared.
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Thursday night the Mavs scored a season-low 75 points in a 19-point loss in Portland, and not much improvement was shown against the Warriors.
Stoudemire, though, saw something missing form the Mavs’ offensive game which could have impacted the outcome.
“Man, we could have scored,’’ Stoudemire said. “We just didn’t attack the way we should have.
“We’ve got to attack. We can’t let teams force their will upon us.”
And that’s not all Stoudemire shared with the media.
“We’ve got to play like a team that wants to win a championship, not a team that’s content with just going to the playoffs,’’ Stoudemire said. “We’ve got to really get after it, we’ve got to start to focus in more and keying on the small things, on the details, and that goes defensively as well.
“We’ve got to make sure we stay mentally in-tuned to the game and play like a championship-caliber team.’’
‘Circle the wagons’
Nothing about the way the Mavs have been playing lately even remotely resembles a championship-caliber team. Especially not Friday’s game against the Warriors.
The Mavs shot just 36.8 percent from the field and lost the rebounding battle by an embarrassing 51-34 margin. They looked like a team headed south instead of a rejuvenated squad with an eye on the playoffs.
“It’s a long season and there are going to be difficult periods,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. “We have to keep our energy up, we have to keep our vibe positive.
“[The games against Portland and Golden State] are two tough games and we didn’t play well in either one of them, which is disappointing. But we have to circle the wagons and get ready for Sunday.’’
The Mavs (40-24) are 0-2 on this three-game road trip which ends Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Warriors led 52-40 at the half, stretched it to 82-64 after three quarters and led by as much as 27 points in the final period. It was an unenthusiastic performance by the Mavs, to say the least.
“We still had some good [shots],’’ said Dirk Nowitzki, who had 14 points on 5-of-16 shooting. “It’s not really going our way right now, so it’s been a tough phase, but we’ve got to fight through it.’’
Friday’s game started reasonable well as the Mavs broke out to a 6-0 lead. With Rajon Rondo tallying 10 of his 14 points in the first quarter, the Mavs were within 29-24 of the Warriors after the opening 12 minutes.
But the bottom slowly fell out as Stephen Curry started drilling 3-pointers. Curry, who scored 51 points against the Mavs in a game here last month, finished with just 22 points while converting 5 of 8 shots from behind the 3-point line.
Draymond Green (18 points) and Klay Thompson (16 points) added to the Mavs’ misery.
Dallas played without small forward Chandler Parsons, who missed his seventh straight game with a sprain and bone bruise to his left ankle. Backup guard Devin Harris also was sidelined with a bruise to his right hand.
That manpower shortage hampered the Mavs, who are just 4-5 since the All-Star break. But Stoudemire wasn’t about to make any excuses for this second straight no-show output from the Mavs offensively.
“We’re making it very easy [for the opponents] because we’re not applying the up-tempo style of play, so the opposing team can set their defense up on us,’’ Stoudemire said. “And once we run our plays they’re already set to play our plays.
“We’ve got to impose our will, we’ve got to be more aggressive, we’ve got to get after it. It has to mean something to us.’’
Lakers game a must-win
Looking ahead, Nowitzki knows what Sunday’s game against the Lakers means to the Mavs. Particalarly since the Mavs will follow that game with a five-game homestand against Cleveland, the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City, Orlando and Memphis.
“If you really look at our schedule Sunday is as close to a must-win as it gets this season,’’ Nowitzki said. “We have a brutal stretch going home.
“We’re home for about two weeks, but it’s just one powerhouse after the next. Hopefully we get some rest tomorrow, regroup a little bit, have a good shootaorund Sunday morning and then go for it on Sunday night.’’
Besides Nowitzki and Rondo, the Mavs got 12 points and five rebounds from Stoudemire in just 18 minutes of play. Meanwhile, Monta Ellis struggled again, finishing with only six points on 2-of-14 shooting.
No one else came close to being a major threat to the Warriors, who improved to 48-12. Still, Stoudemire thought the Mavs played right into the Warriors’ hands and never really put any pressure on the team favored to represent the Western Conference this year in the NBA Finals.
“We’ve got to attack, we’ve got to turn the corner, make them guard us,’’ Stoudemire said. “We’ve got to be the aggressors, and we’ve got to keep that going the whole game.
“We’ve got to be the aggressors, and tonight we let them do what they wanted to defensively. We could have scored. We just didn’t.’’
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760