Dallas Mavericks

Half-hearted performances leave Mavericks scrambling on road

For some strange reason, the Dallas Mavericks appear incapable of putting two solid halves together.

The trend has occurred in each of the last three games — games the Mavs wound up losing.

On Monday at home against Oklahoma City, the Mavs built a 50-35 lead at the half and still led 91-78 with 3:31 remaining in the game. But the Thunder ended the contest on a shocking 14-0 run and wound up winning 92-91.

During Wednesday’s 121-118 loss in New Orleans, the Mavs fell behind 63-51 at intermission, but outscore the Pelicans 67-58 in the second half while making the game interesting.

And in Friday’s 99-90 loss in Memphis, the Grizzlies built a 46-25 lead with three minutes left in the second quarter before the Mavs regrouped and won the scoring battle in the second half 56-44. In short, it is as though the Mavs have forgotten that there are two halves to a game.

“I’m concerned about our starts the last couple of games,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “And of course, our second half against Oklahoma was very sketchy, and then a bad ending.

“We have to put two good halves together.”

Forward Harrison Barnes suggested that the Mavs might want to take a good hard look at the starting lineup, and then tweak it a bit if need be.

“I don’t know if we need to switch some things up with our preparation or lineups,” Barnes said. “I think it’s the consistent effort throughout the entire game.

“I think that’s the biggest issue.”

The Mavs were down 55-34 to the Grizzlies at halftime before re-charging their batteries and climbing to within 94-90 with 1:08 remaining. But they couldn’t close the deal and are now 0-2 on this season-high, five-game road trip, which continues Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Bradley Center against the Milwaukee Bucks.

“I thought we did a great job of battling back, but once again you put yourself in a tough deficit every single game and try to have these miraculous comebacks, it’s tough,” Barnes said. “We haven’t been able to have success in a lot of these.”

The starting lineup will change against the Bucks. Point guard Seth Curry will not play because he aggravated his injured left shoulder against the Grizzlies and said it’s still sore.

“Obviously I’ll be out there when it starts to get better,” said Curry, who sat out Saturday’s practice session at Marquette University. “I can play on it, but it’s still sore.

Carlisle did not want to discuss lineups other than to say Curry won’t play Sunday.

“But we’re going to have to shuffle the deck a little bit and try to make it work,” he said.

Athletic Bucks

Carlisle is rightfully concerned about the Bucks’ athleticism, because since it has given so many teams trouble.

“Milwaukee is as hard a team matchup as there is in the league because they’ve got long, angular guys that can handle the ball, make plays,” he said. “They’ve got guards that can handle and set screens and make shots, and their bigs are a real factor with strength and length.

“Our level of force at the beginning of the game is going to have to be very good — better than it was (Friday) night (in Memphis). We’re going to have to work the game for 48 minutes.”

Led by forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who averages 23.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.65 steals and 1.89 blocks, the Bucks are 40-36 and in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

“He’s gotten better and better each year,” Carlisle said. “This year he’s been tremendous.

“He’s starting to shoot the three consistently now, which he’s going to cause even bigger problems because now you’ve got to come out on him and his drive game becomes more effective. It’s a big, big challenge.”

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