HOUSTON – All the Dallas Mavericks could do was shake their collective heads after examining Wednesday’s stat sheet from their game against the Houston Rockets.
The Mavs won the rebounding battle for one of the rare times (46-39). They also held the Rockets to 40.9 percent shooting, and limited the league’s leading scorer – James Harden – to just 17 points.
All of that positive production, though, couldn’t get the Mavs a win as they dropped their fourth straight game, 99-94, at the Toyota Center.
As the losses pile up and the frustrations boil, coach Rick Carlisle insists that his team is still a together unit as they dropped to 30-17 and into seventh place in the Western Conference standings.
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"Judging by how we played tonight, I like the collective fight of our team,’’ Carlisle said. "We’ve just got to stay the course and we’ve just got to stick together.’’
Sticking together was a challenge Wednesday when the Rockets tallied 31 points off 24 Mavs turnovers. Most of the turnovers were of the silly variety with the ball traveling to empty spaces were a teammate was no where to be found.
The miscues spoiled a solid defensive game by the Mavs, and also wasted a 33-point effort from Monta Ellis, who was 14-of-23 from the field.
"I thought we had a good game plan defensively,’’ said Dirk Nowitzki, who collected 14 points and five rebounds. "I thought we executed it pretty decent, tried to keep James out of the lane, keep him off the free throw line.
"The other guys hurt us some obviously, but you’ve got to give us something. But the turnovers were just killing us.’’
In dropping four games in a row for the first time since Jan. 2-9, 2013, the Mavs blew a 10-point lead and just looked totally out of sync offensively.
"I love the effort tonight, I loved the spirit of the team,’’ Carlisle said. "At times we tried to do a little too much, other times we just simply made some bad decisions and other times they made a play.
"Too frequently the turnovers were unforced and it’s not characteristic of us. We’re a top 5 taking care of the ball team, and we were under 12 (turnovers) a game heading into (Tuesday) night (against Memphis). This is uncharacteristic of us and we got to overcome it.’’