Playing to win in the preseason finale, the Mavs got blown out Friday night by the East power Indiana Pacers.
"The difference between being where you want to be and not is sometimes fractional," said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, "so we've just got to stay the course and keep working."
Dallas finished the meaningless portion of the schedule with a 4-4 record after committing 24 turnovers and shooting only 37 percent from the floor in a 98-77 loss that was about as ugly as the .500 beards grown by last season’s disappointing edition of the Mavs.
“That’s a good team showing us that we’ve got a long way to go,” Dirk Nowitzki said, “so maybe this wasn’t all bad.”
Maybe. But it got so bad the Mavs were whistled for a technical foul in the final minute after coach Rick Carlisle called a timeout Dallas didn’t have.
The Mavs’ biggest challenge is expected to be on the defensive end. The team features several experienced scorers and a couple proven playmakers in the backcourt, but the Mavs certainly didn’t look like they were anywhere close to being in sync offensively against a dominant defensive team.
“It feels like light years tonight, but you know what they say,” Carlisle said. “The difference between being where you want to be and not is sometimes fractional, so we’ve just got to stay the course and keep working. I believe in these guys. We’ve got enough experience, and we’ve just got to put it together and do the little things well.”
The individual statistics are irrelevant. The consensus opinion in the home locker room was that the Mavs collectively have a lot of work to do before beginning the regular season Wednesday night against the Atlanta Hawks at the American Airlines Center.
“We don’t have a choice,” Vince Carter said. “It’s around the corner. We have to take advantage of these practice days and gear up. We have a lot of veteran guys who understand what it takes, and we understand when it gets here, it’s time to go. It’s showtime.