Dallas Mavericks

Mavericks’ home woes can be traced to slow starts

Dirk Nowiztki, left, said the Mavericks did not play well defensively against Jared Dudley and the Wizards on Saturday night.
Dirk Nowiztki, left, said the Mavericks did not play well defensively against Jared Dudley and the Wizards on Saturday night. AP

Another day has come where the Dallas Mavericks must figure out a way to win a game at home.

The Mavs have lost three consecutive games at home, including the previous two on this three-game homestand that ends against the Phoenix Suns at 7:30 p.m. Monday the American Airlines Center.

Atlanta nudged past the Mavs 98-95 Wednesday at AAC. And the Washington Wizards built a 21-point lead late in the third quarter before holding on the defeat the Mavs 114-111 in Dallas on Saturday.

The Mavs (13-11 overall and 5-5 at home) are hoping to climb out of their funk against the Suns (11-14).

Part of the Mavs’ plan consists of performing overwhelmingly better than they did Saturday in the third quarter when they saw the Wizards blow open a one-point halftime lead by racing past them for 39 points.

“It starts at the defensive end,” forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “I thought we had a bad outing [Saturday]. I think we stepped it up there in the fourth [quarter]. We stepped it up with the zone and got them thinking a little bit and got them on their heels.”

What disturbed the Mavs the most about Saturday’s loss is that before playing Washington, Dallas last played a game on Wednesday, while the Wizards played in New Orleans on Friday. The Mavs clearly should have been the fresher team.

Instead, the Wizards were the ones with more pop in their legs, and were the ones who played with more pizzazz, while the Mavs didn’t seem energized until the fourth quarter when they racked up 39 points.

“Overall, we were the ones that had two days off and they came in on a back-to-back,” Nowitzki said. “We should have had more pep in our step and guarded them a lot better than we did.

“But sometimes when you don’t start the game off right and you let teams get their confidence up — and then they were just on fire in the third. I’m not sure if we could have done anything about it, but that’s sometimes what happens if you start a step slow.”

The slow starts are a recurring theme which, by now, must be getting kind of old to the Mavs.

“I guess we’ve got to play with more force from the beginning,” Nowitzki said. “Like I’ve said the entire year, our starting five guys are not an energetic, athletic group.

“We’ve got to make it happen by being smart, by playing with force, playing together on both ends. That’s the only way I see it.”

McGee on bench

Center JaVale McGee didn’t play in the past two games, but apparently it’s nothing to be alarmed about.

McGee is still trying to work himself back into game condition while overcoming a left tibial stress fracture.

Coach Rick Carlisle said he decided not to play the eight-year veteran the past two games because of matchup issues.

The last game McGee played was a week ago when he was scoreless and grabbed four rebounds while playing seven minutes in the 104-97 win over the New York Knicks.

“These games where they go small are not good games for him to be in,” Carlisle said. “New York was more his style of game with their big guys, and he played in the first half of that one.”

McGee also didn’t play in the Dec. 6 Mavs-Wizards game in Washington, and in the Dec. 1 contest at Portland. The latter game was the last half of a back-to-back, so that was understandable because McGee isn’t physically fit to play both ends of a back-to-back.

“I keep a line of communication with him,” Carlisle said. “I’ve talked to him consistently about these different kinds of circumstances.”

Mavericks vs. Suns

7:30 p.m. Monday, FSSW

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