With the Dallas Mavericks in the midst of a difficult stretch, forward Dirk Nowitzki took time after Friday night’s loss at Golden State to remind everyone that there were more than a few bumps on the path to the 2011 NBA title.
The roses didn’t always bloom, and the sun didn’t always shine. Thus, by Nowitzki’s formula, this 4-5 stretch since the All-Star break is nothing more than a measuring stick for the greener pastures that lie ahead.
“I’ve been in this league 17 years, and even in our great years — even in the championship year — it’s not all smiles,” Nowitzki said. “We had stretches; I remember we were 2-7 one time in the championship year. You got to just stick with it.”
The Mavs actually posted a 1-7 record from Jan. 6-20, 2011, and then won 18 of their next 19. Later that season, the Mavs lost four in a row but followed with a four-game winning streak to end the regular season.
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Those are the days the Mavs are hoping to duplicate as they try to shake off back-to-back losses at Portland (94-75) and Golden State (104-89).
In the process, coach Rick Carlisle has steadfastly taken a this-too-shall-pass approach when analyzing his team.
“I like a lot of the things we’re doing,” Carlisle said. “But I dislike the fact that we’re getting killed on the boards still, that we’re still having problems with turnovers.
“You can’t be loose with the ball against good teams, so those things bother me. I think we can get better with those, and hey, the rest of it is, hey, we have to stick together.”
Portland pounded the Mavs 56-41 on the boards, and the Warriors outrebounded them 51-34.
Backup center Amar’e Stoudemire believes the Mavs should stop relying on the jump shot and start attacking the basket more, which could lead to more free throw attempts.
“We’re making it very easy [for the opponents] because we’re not applying the up-tempo style of play,” Stoudemire said. “The opposing team can set their defense up on us, and once we run our plays, they’re already set to play our plays.
“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. 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.”
For the Mavs (40-24), that focus starts Sunday night at 8:30 against the Lakers (16-45) at the Staples Center. With the Mavs headed home Tuesday to face an extremely challenging schedule starting with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, Nowitzki nailed Sunday’s game squarely on the head.
“If you really look at our schedule, [Sunday] is as close to a must-win as it gets this season,” Nowitzki said.
Injuries to small forward Chandler Parsons and backup guard Devin Harris have limited the Mavs offensively. Parsons has missed the past seven games with a sprain and bone bruise to his left ankle, while Harris missed the loss to the Warriors with a bruised right hand.
Parsons is expected to play against the Lakers, but Harris’ status remains unknown.
The Mavs have prided themselves on building a deep roster that could overcome injuries and not miss a beat. But realistically, some injuries are more difficult to overcome than others.
“You never know what’s going to happen in a month, month and a half once the playoffs start rolling,” Nowitzki said. “So you just got to stick with it. One thing for sure, if we want to make a run at this we need to be healthy.”
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760