Mavericks' bad habits trounce numbers
Tendency to lose focus toward end finally bites them against undermanned Warriors
DALLAS -- Somehow, six was enough for the Golden State Warriors.
An injury-riddled team probably headed back to the lottery only needed one substitute to win on the road against a team that expects to be among the West's best.
In fact, the six-man Warriors slammed the door on the Dallas Mavericks, finishing the 111-103 upset with a fury at the American Airlines Center. The Warriors, who had three men play all 48 minutes, exploded for a 24-7 run in the final 7:18.
Stunning? Perhaps at first glance, since the Mavs would have had a share of the West lead with a win. However, the Mavs had made a bad habit of ho-hum finishes during their five-game winning streak that was snapped by the 5-8 Warriors.
There are good losses and there are bad losses, and this is definitely a bad one.” -- Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki
"It came back to bite us," Mavs center/forward Drew Gooden said. "We've got to know that we've got to put games away."
Instead, the Mavs put on a clinic on how to give a game away down the stretch.
After extending their lead to nine, the Mavs settled for too many jump shots, committed too many turnovers and gave up too many layups. Oh, and the Mavs managed to avoid attempting a free throw for the entire fourth quarter.
"There are good losses and there are bad losses, and this is definitely a bad one," said Mavs power forward Dirk Nowitzki, who had 28 points and 10 rebounds but was scoreless in the fourth quarter. "We just didn't have it down the stretch. We were a step slow. Offensively, we looked lost. Defensively, they could get to the basket any time they wanted to and they hit some timely 3s. But it's really our fault."
It was the Mavs' abysmal defensive effort in the final seven minutes that most bothered coach Rick Carlisle. He was annoyed at the Mavs' lack of attention to detail, especially concerning defensive transition.
And Carlisle is concerned about a troubling trend that was masked by the Mavs' 10-3 start.
"We've had too many of these games at home where we lost focus," Carlisle said. "We've been able to win the majority of them, but tonight we left too much to chance."
The Warriors basically scored at will during the fourth quarter, when they put up 33 points and exhibited much more energy than the Mavs despite Golden State's one-seat bench. The Mavs have injury problems of their own, with three starters sitting behind the bench in sport coats and swingman Quinton Ross unavailable for the second half because of lower back problems, but there are no excuses for this defenseless display.
The Warriors made eight of 11 shots from the floor -- including four layups or dunks -- while running the Mavs out of their own gym in the final 7:18. Rookie guard Stephen Curry had 11 of his 18 points during the final 3:51.
"We usually have this team's number," said Golden State guard Monta Ellis, who had 13 of his game-high 37 points in the fourth quarter. "They don't have any shot blockers, so our game plan was to really attack the basket. And that's what we did."
The Warriors bear only a faint resemblance to the eighth seed that whipped the 67-win Mavs in the first round of the 2007 playoffs. Ellis is actually the only healthy holdover from that team. The Mavs won five of seven games against Golden State the last two seasons.
A hex or recent history had nothing to do with this loss for the Mavs. This was about a lack of energy and execution, which makes it inexcusable.
Tim MacMahon covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com. E-mail him at email@example.com.