Defensive debacle 'beyond embarrassing'
“Other than saying ‘beyond embarrassing,’ I don’t know what to say.”
Carlisle’s sentiments came after the Portland Trail Blazers ran a 36-minute layup line Saturday night en route to a 127-111 rout of the Mavericks at the American Airlines Center.
The Blazers deserve some credit. After all, led by power forward LaMarcus Aldridge and point guard Damian Lillard, Portland is the NBA’s highest-scoring team.
But it’s absolutely ridiculous to allow anybody to make it look as easy as the Blazers did in the first three quarters, when Portland scored more than half of its 104 points in the paint. The Dallas defense was terrible in transition and horrific in the half court. The Mavs could have laid out rose petals to show the Blazers the way to the rim, if that didn't require a little effort.
“It’s on all of us as a team,” Dallas center Samuel Dalembert said. “It’s embarrassing. As you can see, things didn’t go the way we anticipated.”
Anyone else who was surprised either hasn’t been paying attention or is in denial.
Breaking news: The Mavs are a bad defensive team.
They allow the sixth most points in the NBA this season. That tends to happen when your starting lineup features two guards with terrible defensive reputations (Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis), a 35-year-old power forward who has always been severely limited athletically (Dirk Nowitzki) and a maddeningly inconsistent big man who is asked to clean up a lot of the messes (Dalembert).
The problem is the Mavs, with all their new pieces, aren’t showing progress defensively. They’re regressing, actually, at least against quality competition.
This was the eighth game the Mavs played in the past month against a team that is in position to make the Western Conference playoffs. They’re 2-6 in those games and have allowed an average of 117.1 points on 50.2 percent shooting from the floor.
The Mavs have twice this week alone had halves during which they allowed 70 or more points. Even with their personnel flaws, that’s a shameful failure to execute and compete.
“Everybody’s just got to work a little harder, make the catches a little harder and compete like the guys did in the fourth quarter today,” Nowitzki said. “That’s the only way to play. Like I said, I don’t think we’re talented enough to coast through games or coast through quarters. We’re just not good enough.”
Most fans missed the one bright spot for the Mavs in this blowout. Can you blame folks for fleeing for the exits with the home team trailing by 34 points entering the fourth quarter?
But the Mavs’ bench made up enough ground, going on a 17-0 run at one point, to make Portland coach Terry Stotts put his starters back on the floor with 4:19 remaining. As humiliated as he was, Carlisle made sure to recognize the effort of DeJuan Blair, Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Wayne Ellington and Shane Larkin in the final frame, using it as a threat to the Mavs’ regulars.
“I’m going to find guys that are going to fight and get them in the game,” Carlisle said. “Simple as that.”
The Mavs’ defensive flaws really aren’t that complicated. They’re just hard to fix without some major roster remodeling.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett at Mavericks media day to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.
Play Podcast Mark Cuban joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Mavericks' new GM Gersson Rosas and much more.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mark Cuban's comments from Las Vegas about the Mavericks' offseason, how he sees the team without Dwight Howard and more.
Play Podcast Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.
Play Podcast Jeff Platt fires quick-hitters at Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon in the weekly sports standoff about Andrew Bynum, the Mavs' current backcourt, a potential Nelson Cruz suspension and more.
Play Podcast ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why she thinks Andrew Bynum got a bad rap in Los Angeles and how he would fit in with the Mavericks.
Play Podcast Buy, sell or hold? If Dwight Howard goes to another team, what are the Mavs' options? The guys take a look at a list of potential fallback options.
Play Podcast ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.