- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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How it happened: The Mavs had an off night offensively and were awful defensively.
It certainly didn't help matters that Dirk Nowitzki sprained his left ankle early in the second quarter, but Dallas already was down double digits when that happened. The best thing about this game for the Mavs was that Nowitzki was able to return for the second half and finished with 16 points in 24 minutes.
But Nowitzki and Monta Ellis (16 points) were the only Mavs to score in double figures.
The Bobcats, meanwhile, looked like a well-oiled offensive machine. Charlotte shot 54.9 percent from the field, including 12-of-24 from 3-point range, and had 42 assists on 45 field goals.
The Mavs had no answer for Bobcats big man Al Jefferson, who had 30 points on 14-of-23 shooting. It's somewhat understandable to get beat up by one of the league's best low-block scorers, but the Mavs also let reserve forward Anthony Tolliver look like an All-Star. Tolliver scored a season-high 22 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 5-of-7 from 3-point range.
What it means: The Mavs' five-game winning streak, their longest in two years, ended with a whimper. Dallas dropped to 31-22, falling a half-game behind the Golden State Warriors at the bottom of the playoff picture in the Western Conference. The Bobcats, the eighth-place team in the East, improved to 23-29.
Play of the game: Nowitzki's first shot of the second half was an air-balled 15-footer. He obviously didn't have his usual lift coming back from the sprained left ankle, but you know it's not the Mavs' night if Nowitzki catches nothing but air on a routine jumper.
Stat of the night: Nowitzki is now 16-1 against the Bobcats. He missed the Mavs' only previous loss to the Bobcats, an overtime loss in Charlotte early last season while he was recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery.