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Mavs Lose to Nuggets 92-103, "Opportunity Lost"

The Mavericks couldn't complete the home-and-home sweep of the Denver Nuggets, losing 92-103 on Saturday Night at the American Airlines Center.  Coach Rick Carlisle warned the media prior to the game that, "teams that win the first game tend to let down and teams that lose the first game tend to get more fired up for the second one."  There were two specific parts that were troubling for the Mavericks on this evening, turnovers and the zone defense.

Starting with the zone defense, there were two critical stretches where the zone broke down and the three-point shot ignited the Nuggets.  Trailing 24-26 to start the second quarter, the Mavericks opened the quarter with the zone defense and allowed 13 points within the first 4 minutes of the quarter.  The second instance was created after the Mavericks opened the third period on a 14-7 run and grabbed a 6 point lead at 66-60.  The zone came back into play and Denver eventually used a 21-6 run late in the third to the 5-minute mark of the final quarter to secure the win.    The Nuggets shot 62% (13-21) from the three point line on Saturday evening, compared to 36% (10-28) on their home floor on Wednesday.  Carlisle mentioned after the game that, "their aggressive nature and the fact that they maintained a high level of aggression was a pivotal part of the game."

Turnovers continue to be a major issue for the team and Shawn Marion put it best, "turnovers bit us in the butt tonight." The Mavericks had 6 turnovers in the first quarter and ended the evening with 21.  Dallas has played a majority of their games at home and they have 58 turnovers on their home court. "We've got to solve it.  It's been more a problem in the three games we've played at home, so I don't know," Carlisle said. "I don't know the reason. We had three in the first four minutes of the game and then three of the first four possessions to start the fourth. That puts us behind the eight-ball."  Jason Terry knows where the team needs to begin fixing the issue, "it's starts in practice, the way you practice is how you're going to play.  We just have to concentrate more in practice on taking care of the ball." 

It might be easier for the Mavericks if the turnover problem was solely on one or two players but it's a team-wide epidemic.  J.J. Barea was the only Maverick who didn't commit a turnover, Dirk Nowitzki led the team with 7 turnovers.  Nowitzki and Caron Butler, with four turnovers, combined to have one fewer turnover than the entire Nuggets team. 

"We've been better than this and we have to be better and we will," said Carlisle on the turnover issue.  He summed up the evening in a nutshell, "it was an opportunity lost for us, that's only way I can put it."  They'll have a chance to make amends on Monday night when the Boston Celtics, the defending Eastern Conference Champion, come to make their lone appearance to the American Airlines Center.  


Quick Notes:

- Jason Terry had his highest scoring first half in his career on Saturday night.  He had 23 points while shooting 9-10 from the field.

- Caron Butler posted his first double-double of the season, he recorded 13 points and 10 rebounds.

- Denver's bench outscored Dallas' bench 40-19.  Shawn Marion led the second unit with 12 points, the next closest Maverick was Dominique Jones with 3 points. Speaking of Dominique Jones, Carlisle had an early assessment on the rookie, "he's doing well, he's learning a lot. He's getting some opportunities to play quality minutes."  Jones played 7 minutes and finished with 3 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist.  "When he (Jones) goes in, he plays his game, he's aggressive," said Carlisle. "He plays more like a veteran guy.  He's showing a lot of good things right now, he's just got to keep working and he'll get more minutes."

-Before tonight, the Mavericks were 2-0 when they out-rebounded their opponent, they won the rebounding battle tonight 46-38.  They were also 2-0 when have two or more scorers reach the 20-point mark before Saturday's match-up with the Nuggets.  In the losing effort, Jason Terry led the Mavericks with 26 points and Dirk Nowitzki was right behind him with 23 points.