Win streak ends with defensive debacle

The box score was littered with statistics that caused the Dallas coaches to cringe after the Mavericks' most lopsided loss of the season, a 114-89 road beating by the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday night.

But one number really summed up how hideous a defensive performance this was by a Dallas squad that had won its previous five games.

"You give up 42 assists, that's really not getting it done defensively," coach Rick Carlisle told reporters. "We deserved to get thrashed and we did."

To put that stat in perspective, the Bobcats' assist total was the highest by any team since the Chicago Bulls had 42 in an April 14, 2008, win over the Milwaukee Bucks. The Seattle Supersonics -- remember that franchise before it relocated to Oklahoma City -- are the only team to allow more assists in a game that didn't go into overtime in the last decade.

Charlotte got whatever it wanted offensively all night, scoring 60 points in the paint and making half of its 24 3-point attempts.

"We didn't put up a lot of resistance defensively," Carlisle said, mastering the art of understatement.

Heck, it's a minor miracle the Bobcats scored only 114 points. Then again, we are talking about a team that ranks fourth from the bottom in the NBA in scoring at 94.8 points per game.

You can call this a trap game with the Mavs arriving in Charlotte with their longest winning streak in two years and departing for Indiana to face the team with the NBA's best record on Wednesday night. Just don't say the Mavs couldn't have seen this coming.

This kind of performance is exactly why Carlisle rarely cracked a smile while the Mavs were in the midst of their best stretch of the season. This is why he had a harsh film session Monday.

Carlisle is well aware the Mavs must overachieve to be decent defensively. If they just go through the motions, they're a defensive disaster.

Center Samuel Dalembert's streak of showing up for four straight games was snapped violently. He was abused by Charlotte big man Al Jefferson, who had 30 points on 14-of-23 shooting.

But Dalembert doesn't deserve the brunt of the blame for this debacle. There's plenty of blame to go around after a performance this bad.

If the Mavs' heads had swelled at all during their winning streak, when they faced four teams who are well below .500, they got deflated by the Bobcats. One of the league's lowest-scoring teams just lit up the Mavs, making that winning streak seem like a distant memory.