The Mavericks came into Monday night’s home contest against the Pacers favored by as many as 14 points — not only because Dallas is ranked number one in the league in offensive efficiency and has averaged an obscene 115.2 points per 100 possessions, but also because Indiana would be playing without Roy Hibbert, its best interior defender and one of its top offensive options.
But Indiana exploited a weaker-than-usual Dallas defense, and the Mavericks gave up 111 points to guys like Donald Sloan, Solomon Hill, Chris Copeland and Damjan Rudez on the way to an 11-point loss.
As you might imagine, the team was less than pleased with its effort afterward.
“There’s no way around it — this is an embarrassing loss,” Mavs small forward Chandler Parsons said. “There is no excuse for this. We have to come out and play harder.” …
“A horrible loss. Horrific. Awful,” power forward Dirk Nowitzki said after the 10-5 Mavs’ second straight loss. “I can’t find any more words.” …
“I said it before the season: This team is going to be challenged defensive-wise and rebounding-wise,” Nowitzki said. “If we don’t bring it every night, we’re going to get lit up.
“We were just a step slow. When you start the game off slow and let guys get their confidence, then all of a sudden, they’re throwing in shots that they probably wouldn’t make if you play from the beginning. You know, it’s another reminder that we’re not good enough to coast against anybody.”
Somewhat incredibly, the Pacers are 6-8 on the season despite all the injuries; Monday night in Dallas, none of the five starters who were on last year’s Eastern Conference Finals squad even suited up.
The Mavericks will ultimately be fine, and an early-season wakeup call like this can pay dividends down the road — especially for a head coach, who can use this one as a reminder if the team starts out with a similarly lackluster defensive effort in the future.
Sloan led the Pacers with 29 points on 10-of-14 shooting — here’s a look at all of them, via 8points9seconds.