Mavs 'have to get tougher' after home humiliation

DALLAS – Most of the folks wearing Mavericks blue and white were long gone by the time the final minute rolled around Saturday night at the American Airlines Center.

The people wearing purple and gold were just getting the party started.

A loud “Let’s Go Lakers” chant echoed throughout the Mavs’ home arena. Mark Cuban, who took a playful jab at Lakers fans before the game, sat in his courtside seat with a scowl on his face and his arms crossed.

It’s about as humiliating a moment an NBA team can experience at home in November.

“It was embarrassing well before that,” Elton Brand said after the Mavs’ 115-89 loss to the Lakers.

The entire game was pretty much an embarrassment for the Mavs, who fell to .500 again while allowing the Lakers to roll to a rout for their first road win of the season.

So much for the thought that the veteran-loaded Lakers would have heavy legs while playing their fourth game in five nights. The Mavs led for a grand total of 15 seconds in this game.

L.A. opened a double-digit lead midway through the first quarter, and the Mavs never put up anything resembling a fight. The Lakers’ lead swelled to as large as 37 points.

“It was an old-fashioned ass-whuppin’, that’s what it was,” Shawn Marion said. “Keep it real. Ain’t no sense in sitting here beating around the bush. They whupped our ass tonight. It’s that simple.”

That’s one way to put it.

Calling it a defensive debacle for Dallas is another. "Disgusting," Brand said.

The game was over by halftime, with the Lakers lighting it up for 65 points in the first half, the most the Mavs have allowed in any half this season.

“They came out throwing punches,” O.J. Mayo said, “and we never quite recovered.”

L.A. made eight of 10 3-point attempts in the first half, led by Metta World Peace’s 4-of-5 hot streak, but it’s not like they just got lucky. The Lakers kept getting great looks because they got into the lane at will.

Allowing dribble penetration has been a problem for the Mavs on many occasions this season. This was a new low. Mavs coaches counted 11 “blow-bys” in the first half.

“When people get straight lanes to the basket, ain’t no help for that,” Marion said. “There ain’t no defensive assignments for that. Coach told us to guard our man. Help is going to come when make them take angles and get to the basket, but when they get a straight line to the basket, you can’t help for that.

“The effort’s got to be there. It wasn’t there tonight.”

Before the game, Cuban half-kidded that the Mavs’ defense couldn’t get much worse. Well, turns out he was wrong about that.

Coach Rick Carlisle has made his concern about the Mavs’ defensive deficiencies clear. He’s drilled it in practice and showed hundreds of film clips trying to correct the issues.

Count on the Mavs sitting through a long, ugly film session Sunday afternoon.

“Defensively, we’ve got to get better and we’ve got to get tougher,” Carlisle said. “We’ve got to keep working on it. It’s not just one or two guys. We all own this.”