HOUSTON – Another excellent chance at reaching the elusive win column went south for the Dallas Mavericks as they once again treated the basketball as it was a foreign object.
Playing inept offensively for the second straight game, the Mavs turned the ball over an incredible 24 times Wednesday night at the Toyota Center, and the miscues were pivotal in the team’s 99-94 loss to the Houston Rockets.
The setback was the fourth in a row for the Mavs, marking the first time they’ve lost this many games consecutively since they dropped games to Miami, New Orleans, Utah and the Los Angeles Clippers from Jan. 2-9, 2013. What’s more, the Mavs (30-17) are now in seventh place in the Western Conference standings and only three ahead of eighth-place Phoenix in the loss column.
The Mavs need to look no farther than the mirror for reasons for their miserable downfall.
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"It was the decisive factor in the game without question,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said of the turnovers. "We had chances, but that ultimately killed us.
"Every time we were right now and needed to make a play to either get tied or get the lead, some mistake would rear its ugly head and we’ve got to overcome that right now.’’
After blowing an early 21-11 lead, the Mavs fought an uphill battle most of the night and were on the brink of possibly pulling this one out. Dallas was behind 97-94 when James Harden delivered a hard foul on Tyson Chandler around the neck as the latter was driving in for a basket with 16.3 seconds left.
Harden was whistled for a Flagrant-1 foul, meaning Chandler had two free throws and the Mavs would retain possession of the ball. However, Chandler missed both free throws and Chandler Parsons inexplicably threw away the inbounds pass.
A pair of free throws by James Harden, who was held to a mere 17 points, with 8.9 seconds left sealed it for the Rockets and left the Mavs searching for answers on how to climb out of the worst stage of their season thus far.
‘The turnovers were just killing us,’’ said Dirk Nowitzki, who had 14 points and five rebounds. "Just head scratchers.
"I can’t explain some of them they were so bad. If we just have a few less I think this was our game.’’
Houston, who beat the Mavs for the second time this season – and both times center Dwight Howard sat out with an injury – kept capitalizing on the Mavs’ mistakes. The Rockets (32-14) scored 31 points off the Mavs’ turnovers
The Mavs had five players that turned it over at least three times, including point guard Rajon Rondo, who had five turnovers and went scoreless while missing all seven of his field goal attempts. Rondo contributes the turnovers to bad spacing. And to. . .
"Guys trying to make the extra pass or the homerun pass,’’ he said. "I’m guilty of it.
"Guys dominating the ball too much instead of making the simple pass.’’
The Mavs trailed 95-87, but Parsons’ 3-poiinter, a pair of free throws by Monta Ellis, and a drive by Nowitzki got Dallas within 97-94 with 43.5 seconds left. Following a defensive stop, the headhunting play on Chandler occurred.’
But the Mavs blew those opporutnies and now will go to Miami for a Friday night game with a lot on their minds.
"We’re a team that’s so good offensively and when we don’t allow ourselves to get shots at the basket it hurts us,’’ said Parsons, who scored 21 points. "We had a lot of silly ones today, too.
"We could have just made the easy play, and we didn’t and it cost us because they’re a great transition team. When you give them live ball turnovers they convert, so we definitely need to do a better job of taking care of the ball.’’
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760