SALT LAKE CITY -- Through three quarters Monday night against the Utah Jazz, the Dallas Mavericks did a pretty effective job protecting the basketball.
At that juncture, the Mavs had turned the ball over just five times leading to only six points for the Jazz. Then came the fourth quarter -- and disaster struck.
In the fourth quarter alone, the Mavs committed six turnovers, which led to 11 points for the Jazz, who went on to defeat Dallas, 100-94, at Energy Solutions Arena. That lack of protection by the Mavs was critical in them suffering their 12th loss over the last 14 games.
"They started hacking and you have to protect the ball,'' said Dirk Nowitzki, who finished with 20 points. "It started with, I think, two turnovers.
"You just know it's coming and you have to be strong with the ball. I turned it over a few times, OJ (Mayo) turned it over twice, I think, in a row.''
Each turnover meant one less shot at the basket for the Mavs and one more shot at the basket for the Jazz.
"You've got to at least make a play and get a shot up,'' Nowitzki said. "It seems like its always coming back to the same things -- making mental mistakes.''
The Mavs did take solace in the fact that they only lost the rebounding battle, 47-45, to one of the most physical rebounding teams in the NBA.
"Defensively, I thought we battled,'' said Nowitzki, who played 32 minutes and grabbed five boards. "I thought we battled one of the toughest teams on the boards.
"We were right there all night and just down the stretch there's something always missing, unfortunately. I'm proud of the guys, how we battled -- it's just falling a bit short every time.''
And with each time the Mavs fall short, the frustrations continue to mount. But that won't deter Nowitzki, who continues to get in better condition with each game.
"I know one thing, we're going to keep on pushing, I'm going to keep on getting in better shape,'' Nowitzki said. "Coach (Rick Carlisle) is going to keep harping on the little things.
"In film session, we watched like an hour film session (Sunday) night. We're going to keep working and getting better and trying to fix it.''
-- Dwain Price
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