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Who is responsible for the Mavericks’ defensive struggles against the Bulls?

Rick had some thoughts on the team’s defense after the game.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks gave up 34 points in the first quarter, and 47 in the fourth in their loss to the Chicago Bulls on Friday.

Rick Carlisle pointed out the Bulls’ hot start -- who hit their first eight shots of the game — when asked about the big numbers after the game. He also drew attention to Dennis Smith Jr.

“They’re picking on Dennis,” Rick Carlisle said. “They’re going at him, most teams look to go at him.”

It’s no surprise that opposing teams are forcing a young rookie to play as much defense as possible, especially when they have a player who is ballin’ out recently in Kris Dunn. Dunn would go on to have a career night in scoring with 32 points on 70.6 percent shooting.

But is that a fair assessment of Smith’s defensive abilities by Coach Carlisle? When Smith Jr. was asked about the quote, he wasn’t sure if he agreed.

“It ain’t like he had all his points on me, there’s a couple of times I guarded him that I did a pretty solid job defensively, so I’m not sure what he means,” Smith Jr. said.

But there was more to the quote that Smith Jr. was aware of -- Carlisle was clear that the responsibility falls on the entire team to stop teams defensively,

“It’s certainly not all on Dennis that’s for sure, we all own it,” Carlisle said. “The starters were abysmal to start the game and our second unit was abysmal to start the fourth. We’ve all got our name on it.”

Here’s my take: don’t read into the idea and reports that Rick was trying to point fingers or blame the young guy for the team’s defensive woes. The team is obviously frustrated with how they’ve performed at times during the season, but there is a general sense of knowing they can be better.

Dennis Smith Jr. is obviously a work in progress; I myself forget how young he is and how little NBA basketball he’s actually played. There are going to be games where he’s a defensive monster, and there are going to be games where guys go off against him.

Tonight was just one of those nights where your team sucks defensively and a guy drops his career-high in points on you.