There were so many missteps made by the Dallas Mavericks during the crucial moments of Sunday’s exasperating 109-106 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans that it was difficult to decipher it all.
But the Mavs know this: They didn’t agree with a foul called on center Tyson Chandler, which set off a chain of issues that played a pivotal role in the Mavs losing their second straight game.
The Mavs were ahead 106-105 at Smoothie King Center after a spectacular high-arching shot off the glass by Monta Ellis with 12.3 seconds remaining. But as the Pelicans were attempting to inbounds the ball, referee Leon Wood charged Chandler with fouling Anthony Davis.
The Mavs’ bench was incensed.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
“I thought we played aggressively and the guy blew the whistle,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “You never want to see a call like that made. But they made it, so we’ve got to play through it.”
Carlisle wasn’t finished discussing his version of the loss that dropped the Mavs to 30-15 on the season.
“The difference in the game was the whistles, really,” Carlisle said. “The calls that were made and the calls that weren’t made.
“Sometimes that’s how it goes, but they made plays. They intercepted the ball, they got the refs to blow the whistle on that one play [against Chandler], so you’ve got to give them the credit. The winners deserve the credit.”
Following the foul on Chandler, Davis stepped to the line and made two free throws to put the Pelicans up 107-106 with 12.3 seconds left. Rajon Rondo’s inbounds pass intended for Dirk Nowitzki was intercepted by Davis, who immediately called timeout with 9.4 seconds remaining.
Chandler intentionally fouled Davis, who made a couple of free throws to pad New Orleans’ lead at 109-106 with 7.7 ticks left. And because the Mavs were out of timeouts, Ellis rushed up the court and hoisted a 3-pointer that missed the entire goal.
Rondo, who finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and nine assists, said he tossed the inbounds pass to Nowitzki because everyone else was covered.
“They just made a play,’’ Rondo said of the Pelicans. “Time was running out and we didn’t have a timeout and they made a play.”
Ellis, trying to free himself for a possible game-winning shot, was double-teamed near midcourt on the play. He said he forgot that he could have run into the backcourt to accept the inbounds pass, which would have given Rondo some added space to operate.
“It’s a team thing, and as players you’ve got to know as well that you’re able to get backcourt,” said Ellis, who had 36 points on 16-of-27 shooting. “I forgot about it — it’s no one to blame.”
Carlisle, though, took the blame.
“It’s on me, because I’ve got to make sure I remind our guys we can throw it in the backcourt,” Carlisle said. “Monta was trying to catch it in the frontcourt and just ran out of space, and so we ended up in a scramble possession and then Davis intercepted the ball. That’s my responsibility.”
The Mavs, who trailed 25-22 after the first period and 61-56 at the half, survived a scare when Chandler injured his left knee. He collided with Davis and had to be helped off the court with 7:33 to go in the third quarter. Chandler returned with 10:31 remaining in the game and wound up with seven rebounds and three blocks.
“It looked ugly,” said Nowitzki, who scored 24 points. “At first I thought he might have rolled his ankle.
“Then he said it was his knee, so I was obviously worried that he’s gone for a while. But then they came back and said he just bruised it, so that’s probably the best news of the night.”
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760