MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- It took 11 minutes for the Dallas Mavericks to fall behind by 20 points.
"It happens when one team is struggling, the other team made shots, it can go quick," Dirk Nowitzki said. "We were down 20 in a heartbeat. Sometimes that’s not a bad thing to be down 20 early and you still have a lot of time to fight back and that’s what we did. I’m proud of the guys how we battled, but it wasn’t enough."
In a game even the players billed as critical coming in, how could the Mavs cough up such a terrible first quarter, going 2-of-15 from the field, against a team playing its seventh game in nine nights?
"Oh man, it’s just frustrating in all aspects," Shawn Marion said. "I thought we were playing good defense at first, it’s just we couldn’t hit no shots. It seemed like everything that could go wrong went wrong."
Memphis jumped out to an 8-0 lead and built a 19-5 lead despite shooting just 36.8 percent to that point. Marion's putback was Dallas' lone field goal among its first 12 shots. With one minute left in the quarter, Memphis led 26-6 and ended it up, 29-10.
It was just two quarters earlier, the nightmarish third in Friday's embarrassing collapse against the Trail Blazers, that the Mavs were outscored 30-10.
"The first quarter we had our share of good shots; didn’t go down," coach Rick Carlisle said. "At one point we were shooting 10 percent. Guys kept battling, we defended and rebounded the whole game. We actually outrebounded these guys again, which is saying something."
But, as Carlisle added, a loss is a loss.
And the Mavs have lost three of four since the comeback win against the Orlando Magic. In fact, in both of their wins over these last five games, Dallas had to rally from double-digit deficits. The last two nights, horrific turnovers killed them. The Mavs had six in each the first and fourth quarters.
In the fourth, Rodrigue Beaubois couldn't inbound the ball on the sideline and got hit with a five-second violation. Jason Terry threw away an inbounds pass from nearly the same spot when he and Delonte West crossed signals.
In a one-minute span just as the game got below the two-minute mark with Memphis leading, 92-87, Nowitzki got a defensive rebound and threw away the outlet pass. He missed a 10-foot jumper, then grabbed another defensive rebound and threw that one away to Mike Conley with 55.5 seconds to go. It was his third outlet pass that got away going back to Friday's final 20 seconds of overtime.
"I had a 3 at the top of the key to cut it to two with like three minutes to go. That would have been a nice shot," said Nowitzki, who finished 5-of-16 with 17 points and with three of the team's 17 turnovers. "We still had some chances. Turnovers are hurting us lately. I had two right there in the last minutes.