Even after a heartbreaking loss like the 117-106 setback the Dallas Mavericks suffered Tuesday night against the Miami Heat, coach Rick Carlisle was able to sift through the pile of rubble and find some bright spots that his team can cling to going forward.
For starters, the Mavs outrebounded the Heat by a whopping 50-28 margin, including 21-7 on the offensive boards. The Mavs also attempted more free throws (32) than Miami (24).
But it was those pesky turnovers that did in the Mavs. The Heat turned 16 Dallas turnovers into 24 points, with most of those coming on transition dunks and layups when the Mavs’ defense appeared to doze off.
“There were certainly some good things, and we want to build on those,” Carlisle said. “Offensive rebounding was very good. Our effort was certainly there on most occasions, but we’ve got to do better with turnovers.
“Coming into the game, it was clear that if you’re in the 13 [turnover] range, you have a great chance against them, and if you’re in the 16-17 range, it was going to be tougher. We had 16 and we had too many catastrophic [turnovers] that turned into layups and dunks.”
Limiting turnovers will again be key when the Mavs open a three-game road trip Friday in Philadelphia. The trip also includes a Saturday game in Detroit and a Monday night game at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks.
Carlisle gave his veterans Wednesday off, and the Mavs will fly to Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon. But they’ll do so knowing the Heat had to get an electrifying, season-high 42 points from LeBron James to knock the Mavs from sixth to eighth in the Western Conference standings.
“[Tuesday] night was tough. [Wednesday was] kind of a rehab day, and [Thursday] we’ve got a prep day and then we’re on a plane again,” Carlisle said. “We’ve got to utilize this time as best we can.
“So our awareness to that has got to be there, and as we get ready to head out onto this trip, we’ve got to understand that ball security — and even with controlled possessions with rebounding and taking care of the ball — is huge because the places we’re playing — they’re all teams fighting for something just like we are, and we’ve got to respect that.”
‘New players’ not an excuse anymore
Now that they’re deep into the season, the Mavs can’t complain that things aren’t flowing well because they’ve added nine new players to the equation from a year ago.
“It’s not new anymore when you’re 55 games in,” Carlisle said. “Look, we’ve gotten more together as a team, and we understand the things that are important to us having success. And my job is to make sure we keep preaching them and keep everybody accountable.
“Coaches are accountable, too. When we have breakdowns in a game like [Tuesday] night, I look right in the mirror on that.”
Rumors surround Mavs at trade deadline
The NBA trade deadline is at 2 p.m. Thursday and, like any team looking to improve, the Mavs are manning the phones in search of bargains or superstar players who can help them make a serious playoff push.
As is the case since owner Mark Cuban bought the Mavs on Jan. 4, 2000, Dallas has reportedly been mentioned in a few trade scenarios. Those include the Mavs acquiring Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Luol Deng and Los Angeles Lakers forward Jordan Hill.