DALLAS – Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle probably will be working overtime in the film room and scratching his head looking for answers after his squad dropped their preseason opener, 111-108, to the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night at American Airlines Center.
In a sloppy game filled with numerous miscues, the Mavs made one of the biggest mistakes of the night when Jae Crowder fouled Kostas Papanikolaou while he was shooting a 3-point shot with the game tied at 108-all and just 0.2 seconds remaining.
Papanikolaou calmly buried all three free throws, much to the chagrin of Crowder, who insist he never touched him.
"That was a rookie official (Don Hudson),’’ Carlisle said, referring to the referee who made the game-deciding call. "I was impressed with him.
"I was even more impressed after the last call.’’
Among the items Carlisle wasn’t impressed with were the number of fouls and turnovers the Mavs committed. Overall, the Mavs committed 36 of the game’s whopping 81 fouls, while each team were so careless with the ball that they turned it over 24 times apiece.
"Every practice day is really important to us and we’ve got to play without fouling,’’ Carlisle said. "They had a lot of fouls, too, but we had too many.
"We’ve got to keep our best players on the floor. We’ve got to work to protect them.’’
For the Mavs, Charlie Villanueva came off the bench to foul out in just 14 minutes after scoring 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting. Also, Tyson Chandler, Monta Ellis and Greg Smith each picked up five fouls.
It was difficult for either team to establish any continuity because of the bevy of fouls that marred the game.
Carlisle said: "Our whole team has got to do a better job of playing with their feet and their bodies and not bringing their hands in to it because that’s where you get called.’’
The game was the debut for new Mavs small forward Chandler Parsons, who came to Dallas after leaving the Rockets and signing a three-year, $46 million free agent contract. Parsons played 24 minutes and finished with a game-high 14 points, two steals, one rebounds and one assist, and converting 2-of-4 shots from beyond the 3-point arc.
Afterwards, Parsons couldn’t wait to exhale on a night he got to play against some of his former teammates for the first time.
"It was crazy playing with my new team against my old team,’’ he said. "It was fun to get out there and play against someone else other than yourself.
"We obviously got a lot of stuff to clean up, but I think it was a good starts to get out there. Obviously we wanted to win, but once the ball goes up in the air all the awkwardness and weirdness went away from me playing Houston.’’
Rockets guard James Harden was impressed with what he saw from Parsons.
"He’s prepared himself similar to the situation I was in,’’ Harden said. "(I) kind of went to a new team and had to insert myself and be ready for it.
"He’s done a great job. He looked really good tonight.’’
The Mavs led by as much as 14 points, but were too careless with the ball.
"We had some good possessions, we had some bad,’’ said Ellis, who had 13 points and six turnovers. "But the more we play the better we will get.
"We have to just got to go back and practice and clean up the mistakes that we made tonight.’’
Dallas played without Dirk Nowitzki, who is out with a right hip contusion.
"We know it’s going to be different without Dirk on the floor,’’ Ellis said. "Defense is just going to play us different.
"You know, we just have to look at that on the positive side. Like I said, just keep going and everything else will work itself out.’’
The Mavs led 29-25 after the first period, 64-54 at the half and 82-80 entering the fourth quarter. But they failed to hold off the Rockets at the end.
"For the first game we did alright,’’ said Ellis, who was 2-of-5 from the field. "We had our ups and downs, but everything I took away from it was positive.’’
In addition to turnovers and foul difficulties, the Mavs also had their issues at the free throw line. Dallas went to the charity stripe 64 times, but only converted 47 of them.
The Rockets also stumbled at the line, nailing just 29-of-45 free throws.
Carlisle, meanwhile, lamented the lack of assists (14) his squad accumulated, along with the bevy of turnovers in a game that lasted two hours and 56 minutes.
"Some guys did some good things, but overall we’ve got a lot of work to do,’’ said Carlisle, whose team shot 40.6 percent from the field. "Too many turnovers, not enough assists.
"And whether or not that was the correct call, the accurate call at the end, it was the right call because it spared everybody five more minutes of basketball agony.’’