The Mavericks have only won nine of their last 20 games, stumbling towards the All-Star break with a disappointing offense and too many games slipping away from them. Wednesday brought another example of just that: Dallas held an early lead, squandered it, looked bewildered through the middle quarters and attempted a strange comeback while Chandler Parsons rode the bench too late for Dallas to actually catch up. The final possession saw Raymond Felton aimlessly hoisted a contested, fading three-point despite a timeout in his pocket, after two Dirk Nowitzki pick-and-rolls failed to generate a look for the Mavericks' best player.
So what now? Who the hell even knows. Dallas faces the San Antonio Spurs on Friday at home and then travel to Memphis for a critical Western Conference matchup on Saturday. They really could have used this win as insurance and might have even had the balls to sit everyone against San Antonio, conceding the game in favor of facing the Grizzlies at full strength. Instead, they'll probably run out their starting five against both teams and maybe lose twice, possibly dropping below the Rockets in the Western Conference standings.
Here's what the gloomy Mavericks had to say about another frustrating loss.
On the last possession: "We were going full court without a timeout. With our team, we've had better success in free flowing situations getting good looks at the basket, and it was obviously a bad decision on my part. The way it went, I should have taken a timeout and set something else up. But I thought we had time to set something else up and get either a good 3, or a two and still have time to get a steal or foul. It didn't work out. Tough loss."
On Justin Anderson's impact: "Loved, loved the force he plays with, force and enthusiasm (are) off the charts. That's what we need with our team. He's injected some real life into our roster and he played really, really well tonight. I'm happy for him. I'm disappointed we lost, though."
On home court struggles: "Hey, look, Miami outgrinded us. We needed to have everyone grinding for 48 minutes, full bore, and it had nothing to do with the home court. We've got to dig deeper. Everybody's got to dig deeper, and we've got to dig deeper as a team. And we can do it. These games are hard. Miami's got a bunch of championship players out there, they've got great coaching, and they're very tough minded. They outworked us tonight."
On Parsons' sitting: "His struggles from basically the beginning of the second quarter on. We just needed quickness and playmaking in there, so I decided to go with Ray (Felton). I thought Ray did a very good job, help bring us back almost there. ... Chandler had a rough two or three quarters, but he'll bounce back."
On the last possession: "Obviously, it was a scramble. I don't remember how much time was left. I think Ray made the best decision he could within that situation, he tried to get into a pick-and-roll, (they) switched and he couldn't really get it Dirk. (In that situation) you're just hoping for a blown coverage. They were sound and he was close to making it.
On Carlisle saying the team got outgrinded: "I think (the effort was there,) just not long enough, and not in the right stretches. We've got to be aggressive from the jump, be aggressive from the start of every quarter, be aggressive in every quarter. The aggressive team gets the benefit of the whistle and I think we were behind the whistle tonight. ... It was definitely going to be one of those matchups where it was who wanted it more. I don't want to say they wanted it more, but they were more aggressive in the times they needed to be."
On his shooting: "I'm not worried about my shot. I'm going to shoot the ball, I'm going to make plenty of shots, I'm going to make big shots, I'm going to make shots that I'm supposed to make. I'm not worried about my shot."
On what he saw on the final possession: "I didn't see anything, obviously. Tried to come off and get a shot for Dirk, came off twice, they did a good job at really sticking with him and really still staying there with me. Time was going off so I had to try and get off a shot at least."
On Carlisle saying he made a mistake not calling a timeout: "So did I. I'm not going to put it all on coach. Being a veteran player and a point guard, I knew we had a timeout. Once I went off twice and we didn't have anything, we still had, like, six seconds on the clock. I still looked at the clock and we had six seconds. I take just as much blame as he does, I could have a timeout too."
On the mindset of the team: "We've got to get through this slump. We can't just keep losing two games, winning two, losing one, winning one, losing two. We can't keep doing that. We understand that, we know that, we've got three games left going into the All-Star break, we've got to try and get all three, get our rest, get our minds right and try and finish our season strong."
On the type of game this was: "We knew it was going to be a very physical game, it was going to be the type of game where we'd have to impose our will early. I think it was pretty hard fought, guys were hard fought, guys were scrambling around. A lot of great, hard-fought basketball."
On his energy: "Well, I only played 23 minutes, but that's one thing that I have to continue to try to do. (Even when I'm not making shots), I can control how hard I play. Just trying to go out there and do whatever I can do be successful, whatever that takes I'm willing to sacrifice my body for it. It was a tough one. A couple guys got going for them late. As far as energy, that's who I am. Passionate, hard-playing, tough. I just want to win. I want to play hard all the time. I just, still fired up on the inside because I wanted that one."
On Whiteside's defense: "He made a lot of guys adjust their shots, which is tough. It's not traditional, it's not the usual thing we have to go through every night. I remember at one point I told the ref, 'he tries to eat up everything.' But I think I had a good opportunity to try to finish stronger than what I did going to my left, I should have tried to dunk on him. With a shot blocker, you have to get into his body or you have to create contact, get fouled, finish strong. When you try to cupcake something or lay it up around him, he's going to beat it all up. Hat off to how he plays."
On the final possession: "(We) went one-on-one there and thought we could get a decent look. In hindsight maybe, could have called a timeout, someone on the court when we saw we didn't have much. ... But we're at our best when we're kind of free flowing. We scored out of those possessions a lot because the defense can't lock in. Just not on this one."
On the team going 9-11 in the last 20: "We're obviously missing Devin and DWill on both ends of the floor, but you've just got to keep grinding through the All-Star break."
On the loss: "It's a tough one. At home, against a team that already beat us, we've got to do a better job, especially a team that played last night and we had the advantage there. It's just, they hit some big shots, they moved the ball, Deng hit that bit three in the corner there. We just didn't have it for 48 minutes tonight."
On how Miami slowed him down after the first quarter: "Yeah, they were just more physical. I obviously got off to a hot start there, got to the basket a couple times early, but Deng was a little more physical and almost denied me in a way the second half. But with our offense it shouldn't matter, we've just got to keep flowing and cutting and moving. The ball will find me. I tried to force a couple shots there, just to continue (staying) aggressive. Just didn't knock it down."