Practice report: Dallas defense ramps up for rematch vs. Rockets
Practice report (03/05/13)
Dallas defense ramps up for rematch vs. Rockets
DALLAS — If the Dallas Mavericks are going to successfully salvage their pivotal home-and-home series versus the Houston Rockets and continue to keep their name in the playoff discussion, they may have to rely on the same area of focus that has failed them all season long: the defense.
Allowing the fourth-most points in the NBA on the defensive end of the floor while surrendering 102.6 a night, the Mavericks (26-33) will try to regather themselves three nights after falling to a lopsided 136-103 loss Sunday on the Rockets’ home floor. They’ll also try to limit the high-octane Houston lineup as the series moves to the American Airlines Center, hoping to rely on better defensive execution after allowing the Rockets (33-28) to shoot 57.5 percent from the field as a team in addition to 14-of-34 shooting from 3-point range, 36 fast-break points and 54 points in the paint.
“Well, when you give up a 136 points, I’m not that concerned about what was happening offensively. It’s the defensive end that’s a priority,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said while comparing the Rockets' offensive attack to that of the Harlem Globetrotters. “That’s where we’ve got to do better. You know, they sliced us in the second half, particularly in the third quarter, and it was like Meadowlark Lemon was out there throwing behind-the-back passes and that music was playing. I mean, that’s how it looked, and we’ve got to do better than that.”
“It’s like they were way more faster than we were,” four-time All-Star Shawn Marion added. “It seemed like everything they did was just two steps faster than we did and it was evident. … We just had two good days of practice in here, but we’ve got to translate the stuff we do in here. We try to kill each other in here, but we don’t do that when we play other people. I don’t understand that. You know, we’ve got to translate what we do in here to the games and that’s all we’ve got to do really. If we do that, it will show.”
Facing a Rockets team that is No. 1 in the league in scoring while posting 107.0 points a night, the Dallas defense will again be tested as the Mavs try to avenge Sunday’s defeat while claiming the season series 3-1. But, with Houston playmakers James Harden and Jeremy Lin capable of getting in the lane at will and sharpshooter Chandler Parsons coming off a career-high 32 points on 12-of-13 shooting, the Mavs know they’ll have their hands full even on their home hardwood.
Still, with the defense leading the way, the Mavericks will return to their home floor knowing that they will have to compete at a high level in order to seize a much-needed victory before heading out for a four-game road trip. And although it has been easier said than done through the first 59 games, playing with a defense-first mentality still remains essential, according the Mavs' veteran players.
“I mean, we’re just missing coverages,” 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki said of the lack of defensive execution. “I think sometimes it takes us too long to click in the head and get in our coverages and call out our coverages and protect the paint better. I think we haven’t really been doing a great job all season. Usually when our man-to-man was struggling we could always rely on our zone, but that one isn’t even good this year, so we’ve got to make our man-to-man work and call out the coverages early and execute the coverages.”
“It ain’t hard if we’re putting the effort out there. If you’re putting the effort out there, good things happen for you, but you’ve got to go out there and compete. We didn’t and it showed,” Marion concluded.
Note The Mavericks host the Rockets on Wednesday night at the American Airlines Center. The Mavs still lead the season series 2-1. The game will air locally at 7:30 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.
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