Another night at the arena meant more frustrations for the Dallas Mavericks.
The Los Angeles Clippers took charge in the third quarter Monday night and went on to post a 109-90 lopsided victory over the Mavs before a sellout crowd of 20,002 at American Airlines Center.
It was the third straight loss for the Mavs, who have dropped to 33-31 overall with several more tough games remaining on their schedule.
We’ve got to fight our way out of it. There’s no other way.
Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle on the team’s struggles
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Meanwhile, if the Mavs have any hope of climbing out of this rut and advancing to the playoffs, coach Rick Carlisle knows there’s only one way to do it.
“We’ve got to fight our way out of it,” Carlisle said. “There’s no other way.
“I thought our first half was very good. It wasn’t perfect, but we were in the fight and guys were going at it.”
But the third quarter started and Clippers point guard Chris Paul took over the game. Paul tallied 18 of his game-high 27 points in the third quarter when he personally outscored the entire Mavs’ squad by two points.
We had a few missed shots and they had a few tough makes in the third and it just deflated us.
Rick Carlisle on the Mavericks’ rough third quarter
By the time the fourth quarter started, the Mavs were trailing 83-68 and the energy had left the building.
“We had a few missed shots and they had a few tough makes in the third and it just deflated us and it took some of the fight out of us and that can’t happen,” Carlisle said. “We’ve got to stay in the fight, but the fight is ongoing.
“It’s not ending in the Western Conference in those last playoff seed positions.”
The Clippers outscored the Mavs 45-12 from 4:37 of the third quarter to 4:14 of the fourth quarter.
“Give the Clippers credit, they played well,” Carlisle said. “But we can do better.
“Our transition defense has taken a big step back in the last three games, which are all losses. That’s the most important area of defense is getting back initially, and so we’ve got to pick that up.”
Carlisle insists that the Mavs have enough talent to compete with the top echelon teams in the NBA. They just haven’t shown that they have.
“Our talent is based on the collection of multiple parts operating in concert to create a situation where the team can function well and win games,” Carlisle said. “We’ve taken a step back behind the curve the last three games and that’s got to change, and we have smart players and we have good players and we have players that care.
“I’ll grant anybody that this is a tough back-to-back with them waiting on us. There are no excuses.”
Center DeAndre Jordan dominated inside and finished with a season-high 23 points to go with 20 rebounds and two blocks. Even when the Mavs intentionally fouled Jordan and sent him to the charity stripe, that didn’t work as he wound up converting 11-of-19 freebies.
“He’s a terrific player,” Carlisle said. “He missed a few free throws, but the truth is he started making them in the second half.
“We weren’t putting enough pressure on their team to make those free throws meaningful enough for there to be some more misses. That’s a gimmick, really, just to try to hang in and junk it up, but that’s not going to save us from an average of over 20 transition points per game over the last three [games].”
We all own this three-game losing streak, all of us, coaches, players. It’s an hour-to-hour fight.
A tip-in by Dirk Nowitzki (22 points) gave Dallas a 52-50 lead at the half. But the Mavs were a complete no-show in the second half and eventually fell behind by 32 points.
“We all own this three-game losing streak, all of us, coaches, players,” Carlisle said. “It’s an hour-to-hour fight.
“It’s keeping your competitive dander up, it’s the commitment to unconditionally helping the guy next to you and the other guys next to you. We’ve got to pick it back up.”
The Mavs shot 47 percent from the field. But Chandler Parsons was just 3-of-12 from the field with nine points, and Wesley Matthews was 0-of-6 from the floor with only two points.
“I know those guys can shoot the ball better and I know we had some bad luck with misses tonight,” Carlisle said. “But it doesn’t explain away 28 transition points — that’s on all of us.
“We’ve got to figure that out with a greater collective will. And we’ve got to play better.”