For seemingly the balance of this season, the Dallas Mavericks have talked until they’re blue in the face about how important it is to rebound and that they were going to do their part in chasing down loose balls.
But once again, it was just that. All talk.
Needing one rebound Friday night to have a chance to catch Chicago, the Mavericks failed to get that elusive board and wound up losing to the Bulls 102-98 before a sellout crowd of 20,408 at American Airlines Center.
The loss dropped the Mavericks to 30-14 and 14-7 at home.
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Chicago beat up the Mavericks all night and won the rebounding battle 47-30, including 15-9 on the offensive end.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle explained the lopsided rebounding numbers as “physical disposition. We needed to be tougher and we needed to be more hit-first. We had some guys that played quite a few minutes that didn’t get enough rebounds.”
The Mavericks, who trailed throughout, got within 100-98 after Monta Ellis completed a three-point play with 28.6 seconds remaining. Carlisle then instructed his team to play solid defense instead of intentionally fouling the Bulls before the 24-second shot clock expired.
That part of the strategy, the Mavericks mastered. But they forgot one important thing — to grab the rebound.
Derrick Rose put up a gimpy 2-footer and missed with 6.9 seconds left. But Rose — not any of the Mavericks — wound up with the critical rebound.
Pau Gasol was then intentionally fouled and buried two free throws with 0.1 second left to end a frustrating night for the Mavericks.
Although Dallas scored 32 points off 24 Bulls turnovers, the Mavericks couldn’t emerge with a victory because they couldn’t corral enough rebounds.
Tyson Chandler picked up his 19th double-double of the season (10 points, 12 rebounds), and Dirk Nowitzki added 24 points and seven boards. Other than that, no Mavericks player had more than three boards.
“The first quarter is what was our undoing,” said Carlisle, whose team trailed 30-21 after the first period. “The rest of the game was relatively even.
“But I thought their shot-making, our inability to get key stops — they got two or three threes, they got some tip-ins. And it just set the wrong tone for the game.”
Carlisle even sat prized point guard Rajon Rondo the final 5:12 with the Mavericks down 92-85. Carlisle described it as a coach’s decision.
“Coach made the decision and it’s as simple as that,” said Rondo, who had six points, four assists and two turnovers. “I don’t call the game from that standpoint.
“I don’t think he’s [mad] at me or anything. He just made a decision and that’s what he went with. Not a big deal to me.”
What was a big deal was the idea of the Mavericks falling behind 95-85 with 4:30 left in the game after two free throws by Aaron Brooks. And, of course, those crucial rebounds the Mavericks failed to collect.
“Wing guys got to do a better job helping our out bigs,” said Ellis, who scored 17 points and registered five steals. “They had two bigs in there that attacked the basket and then [Taj] Gibson coming off the bench and being active, so we’ve got to come in and help our big guys more.”
And on that last failed attempt at a defensive rebound by the Mavs?
“The game wasn’t won there,” Ellis said. “Throughout the whole game they played harder than us, and we played hard in the fourth quarter in our spurts. But we’ve got to do better than that.”
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760