No defending 'embarrassing loss' to Pacers

DALLAS -- One of the worst offensive teams in the NBA limped into the American Airlines Center and lit up the Dallas Mavericks.

These aren't the Indiana Pacers that advanced to the Eastern Conference finals last season. Far from it, considering none of the five starters from that team suited up for Indiana on Monday night.

These bunch of journeymen came to Dallas ranked 28th in the NBA in scoring, not having cracked triple digits since a season-opening victory over the still-winless Philadelphia 76ers. But these Pacers handed the Mavs a humiliating 111-100 home loss.

"There's no way around it -- this is an embarrassing loss," Mavs small forward Chandler Parsons said. "There is no excuse for this. We have to come out and play harder."

Well, embarrassing is one way to put it after a team that considers itself a Western Conference contender gets punked on its home court by the injury-riddled Pacers' leftovers.

"A horrible loss. Horrific. Awful," power forward Dirk Nowitzki said after the 10-5 Mavs' second straight loss. "I can't find any more words."

The Mavs couldn't find a way to keep the Pacers, who improved to 6-8, from scoring at will. Dallas didn't win a single quarter despite shooting 50 percent from the floor in a game coach Rick Carlisle referred to as a "physical demolition."

Dallas' failure to score from the floor for more than half of the fourth quarter killed any comeback hopes, but not many words were muttered about the Mavs' offense in the locker room after this mess. The focus was firmly on the defensive disaster, on all the warts exposed in this embarrassment.

"We just have to put up more resistance," Carlisle said. "That's where it's at defensively, and our guys know that."

Frankly, this can't be considered too stunning, even with the all the Pacers' offensive problems. The Mavs feature the NBA's most efficient offense, but this roster has a lot of flaws defensively.

Look at the Mavs' starting lineup. It features a pair of guards who are puny by NBA standards and a 36-year-old power forward who wasn't exactly considered a lockdown defender even during his younger days.

Add a laissez faire attitude to that mix and it really gets ugly.

"I said it before the season: This team is going to be challenged defensive-wise and rebounding-wise," Nowitzki said. "If we don't bring it every night, we're going to get lit up.

"We were just a step slow. When you start the game off slow and let guys get their confidence, then all of a sudden, they're throwing in shots that they probably wouldn't make if you play from the beginning. You know, it's another reminder that we're not good enough to coast against anybody."

If Dallas maximizes its potential, the Mavs might be decent defensively. If they don't, the Mavs will be miserable on that end of the floor, an exciting team that has no real title hopes.

"We've got to get better," said center Tyson Chandler, the only Dallas starter who has a reputation as an above-average defender. "We've got to correct that if we want to accomplish anything this season."

All due respect to Pacers guard Donald Sloan, a Dallas native, but something has gone seriously wrong when that dude goes off for 29 points on 10-of-14 shooting. And when seven Pacers score in double figures when their best scorers are in street clothes. And when the Pacers, who were shooting 32 percent from 3-point range, hit half of their 26 attempts from long distance.

"Teams are shooting too high of a percentage against us, and it's not just because teams just make shots against us," Chandler said. "It's because we allow teams to make shots against us. We can't have guys coming in here with all the confidence in the world having career nights. We've got to put a stop to it."

The Mavs couldn't put a stop to a nosebleed Monday night, much less the Pacers.