Mavs looking inward to fix slide

DALLAS -- Amar'e Stoudemire signed with the Dallas Mavericks less than a month ago, but locker room leader Tyson Chandler believes the newest member of the team has earned the right to publicly criticize his teammates.

Stoudemire, who joined Dallas after receiving a buyout from the New York Knicks during the All-Star break, complained about the Mavs' lack of professionalism and competitiveness Tuesday night after the team's most lopsided loss of the season, a 127-94 rout at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"I think he's earned it throughout his career, and he came here because he wanted to win a championship," said Chandler, who played with Stoudemire with the Knicks the previous three seasons. "And I encourage more guys to be vocal. I think he's only been honest to his teammates. He didn't say anything to you guys that he didn't say to us personally, so I respect that. I feel like guys will respect that and get things in order."

Dallas is 5-6 since the arrival of Stoudemire, who picked the Mavs over other suitors because he believed they offered his best opportunity to win a title. All six of the Mavs' losses -- including two games in which the 13-year veteran Stoudemire sat as a precaution -- have been by double digits.

After coach Rick Carlisle called the embarrassing effort against the Cavaliers "the lowest point of the season," Stoudemire expressed his frustration to the media.

"I came here to win and we're [4 1/2] games out of being out of the playoffs, which is unacceptable," Stoudemire said. "This is something we can't accept. We've got to find a way to refocus. We've got to key into the details of the game of basketball.

"We can't cheat the game. We can't screw around in shootarounds and practices and joke around all the time and figure we're going to win games. This is the pros. It's the highest level of basketball. We've got to act that way."

The Mavs' practice Wednesday ran an hour longer than scheduled. Afterward, Carlisle seconded Stoudemire's opinion about professionalism being an issue for the veteran-heavy Mavs.

"I agree that we have some looseness that we've got to get fixed, and we talked about it today," Carlisle said. "We watched some of the stuff that happened last night, and I think our guys understand we're at a point where that stuff is hurting us.

"We got to eliminate it as a problem."

Stoudemire, who signed for the veteran's minimum and has averaged 11.4 points and 3.5 rebounds in 17.5 minutes per game for the Mavs, was particularly disappointed that Dallas didn't have the "aggressiveness or determination or focus" necessary to compete with the title-contending Cavs. He called out his seasoned-veteran teammates for committing many mistakes typical of rookies.

"Whenever you step out like that as a leader, you start showing up and trying to show guys and lead by example," Chandler said. "Others also take it personal and look in the mirror and see if they had anything to do with it. I think that's what happens if you are a professional and you want to do the right thing. I feel like there's a lot of great guys in this locker room who will help turn the tide."

The Mavs, who have slipped to seventh place in the Western Conference with a 41-25 record, hope they respond well to hitting what feels like rock bottom. The Mavs have been mediocre for more than two months, going 15-15 since Jan. 7. But they were especially embarrassed after the blowout at home to the Cavs, which came days after being routed on the road by the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors.

"Sometimes you need to get smacked the way we did," Chandler said. "Nobody wants it, but sometimes you need to get smacked to wake you up and say, you're not what you think you are. There's things that you need to improve on. There's things that we need to tighten up.

"I think it does make everybody a little more focused and locked in because nobody likes to be embarrassed like that. And we move on."