The Dallas Mavericks are officially mired in a slump.
Zach Randolph hit seven straight shots in the second half Tuesday, and the Memphis Grizzlies imposed their collective will and rolled over the Mavs 109-90 before a sellout crowd of 20,160 at American Airlines Center.
It’s the sixth loss in 10 games for the Mavs, and it’s also the first time all season they’ve lost three in a row.
With a 7 p.m. contest looming Wednesday in Houston, the Mavs (30-16) are now just one game ahead of seventh-place San Antonio (29-17) in the Western Conference standings.
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“I wouldn’t say panic,” center Tyson Chandler said. “We definitely understand that we’ve got to come in and fix some things and we’ve got to make some adjustments.
“This is the first time we’ve lost three games in a row this season, and we’re heading into a tough road trip. We’ve got to be more consistent with the style of basketball we want to play.”
The Mavs also continued a terrible trend in which they can’t seem to gain any positive traction at home. The Mavs are an impressive 16-8 on the road and a mediocre 14-8 at home.
The trend has to be bothersome, particularly when the whole point of the postseason seeding is to enter the playoffs with home-court advantage.
“Right now, our inability to sustain a high level of full-capacity [basketball] is our nemesis,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We got off to a great start tonight, we had great intensity in the game.
“Then we had a couple of turnovers late in the first quarter — we should have come out of that with at least a four- or six-point lead — and it’s tied [24-24]. It took some of the air out of us.”
More precious air escaped when former Mavs swingman Vince Carter came off the bench to pour in seven of his 12 points in the second period. The collapse by Dallas was so thorough that by halftime the Grizzlies’ reserves had outscored the usually reliable Mavs bench 28-6.
“Their second unit stepped up and they played great, and we struggled,” Carlisle said. “You’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They stepped up their game in a big way, and we just were poor tonight.”
In suffering their third-worst loss of the season, the Mavs committed 14 turnovers in the first half and fell behind 54-44. To put that in perspective, the Mavs had committed 13 or more turnovers in just two of their previous 15 games.
But in the first half, the Mavs tossed the ball around like they had grease on their hands. And the Grizzlies made them pay, turning those 14 miscues into 17 points.
“Poor decision making usually is a reason,” Carlisle said, trying to explain the high number of first-half turnovers. “I haven’t looked at all of them. It was uncharacteristic, but it was our downfall tonight.”
The Mavs turned the ball over just twice in the second half, but their defense was ineffective as Memphis tacked on 55 points after intermission, converting 22 of 38 shots.
Each time the Mavs made some semblance of a run — they only got as close as seven in the third period —Randolph would pop out on the right wing and toss in a high-arching shot over the outstretched hands of Chandler.
Chandler Parsons tallied 10 of his 19 points in the first quarter, and Monta Ellis also scored 19. Other than those two, the Mavs couldn’t sustain any consistency at either end of the floor.
“We’ve got to play a solid basic brand of basketball that plays to our strengths, which is IQ, it’s length, it’s together,” Carlisle said. “And we didn’t do that tonight.”
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760