Mavs Power Points: Rockets Kick Dallas Again

It was weird hearing now-Rockets guard Jason Terry previewing Wednesday's Mavs-at-Houston game by saying, 'Kick 'em while they're down. They've lost three (straight). We want to make it four.' It was weird but it was true ... and the Mavs needed to kick back.

The Big Lead

The Dallas Mavericks finally solved James Harden, didn't get killed on the boards, set themselves up for a clutch-time victory ...


And for the fourth straight game, invented yet another new way to lose, this time by a 99-94 score on Wednesday in Houston, the failure marking the first four-game losing streak for Dallas since Jan. 9 2013.

The offense stunk

There is no other way to put it. If you take away Monta Ellis being a one-man show on offense and scoring 33 points, this game isn’t really that close. Rajon Rondo on offense was a disaster. He finished 0 for 7 from the field for a donut in the points column. He had five rebounds, but they were all defensive rebounds. He also added to the demise with five turnovers. His lone contribution on the offensive end came with six assists, which is still a low total for Rondo, who is averaging over nine assists per game on the season.

Rondo gets full credit for limiting Harden to 17; this one-on-one defensive work is going to come in handy as Dallas moves on. But it makes Rondo look awfully one-dimensional.

“We have to learn from our mistakes,'' Rondo said, "and that starts with me as the point guard."

Down low there wasn’t much offense either with Tyson Chandler as he scored just eight points, missing a series of at-the-rim chances and then, in crunch time, missing both free throws after having been Flagrant-1-violated by a Harden foul.

Make those, with the game hanging in the balance, and the Mavs would have closed the gap to one, with the ball, and along with Dallas' chance, Tyson would have had a double-double.

But it didn’t happen. Just as nothing is happening right for the Mavs in the clutch right now.

Late-game execution

This is on the coaching staff right here. Rick Carlisle is a “top two or three” head coach in the NBA, according to his owner Mark Cuban, And we don't with that. But he has come up short this past week.

First he had the mind-boggling move to sit Rondo for the final five minutes in a tough home loss to the Chicago Bulls by four points. Immediately after that came a three-point loss to the Pelicans on the road thanks to an inept pair of inbounds plays in the final seconds. There was a pure butt-whooping Tuesday night at the hands of the short-handed Grizzlies which wasn’t close at the end, and then this …

The clutch-time blame can’t all go on Carlisle, of course. Chandler's free-throw misses were followed by another Dallas drive to the hole, but somehow the referee lost his whistle when Monta Ellis clearly got fouled while shooting. But then, the drawing-up of inbounds plays was inept, and it was inept on multiple occasions in the final seconds.

Mavs "Big 3" Stats

Here is the kicker: The Mavs outperformed the Rockets in nearly every category. They shot better from the field, 42.7 percent to the Rockets' 40.9 percnt. The Mavs were better from the free-throw line, shooting 87.5 percent to the Rockets' 86.7 percent (but missed the two that mattered). The Mavs even got the rebounding edge against the Dwight Howard-less Rockets, 46-39. The only category the Mavs weren’t superior was from the three-point line, in which the two teams were equal, shooting 40 percent.

So why the loss? That many crucial mistakes in crunch time is basically throwing the game away - and Dallas "threw it away'' all night, to the tune of a season-worst 24 turnovers. Dirk made a cutting remark about the Mavs trying too many "fancy'' passes. And he's right. But heck, even the simplest of passes don't look simple right now.

Said Carlisle: “24 turnovers for 31 points. We had chances, but that ultimately killed us."

Minutes Management

Dirk played a little over 30 minutes, Tyson was just over 32, Rondo was a little over 34, and Chandler Parsons logged 36 minutes against his former team. Monta Ellis led the way, as he usually does, with nearly 39 minutes. The Mavs have less than 48 hours before traveling to Miami to face the Heat and try to bring this four-game skid to an end. ... but they'll need to calculate a way to get their bench involved. Dallas is getting hammered there (Houston, 47 Dallas 18 in points), this time around the Josh Smiths and the Corey Brewers and even the Jason Terrys getting in on the "kick-'em-while-they're-down'' action.

Above, the official highlight reel, such as it is.

The Final Word

"The turnovers are just killing us. Sometimes they're just head-scratchers. I can't explain some of them, they're so bad." = Dirk.

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