By Mike Fisher | 105.3 The Fan,

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — On Friday, Dirk Nowitzki said that his Dallas Mavericks – playing as they were — didn’t look like a playoff team. On Sunday, a lethargic 92-80 home loss to the crummy Knicks seemed a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“I didn’t have them ready,’ said coach Rick Carlisle. “I will take the blame for that. It’s pretty clear. It starts at the top.’’

Yes, maybe so. And then it oozes all the way to the bottom.

This defeat figures to trigger a great deal of soul-searching and self-reflection look-in-the-mirror scrutiny.

But before the Mavs do any of those things, they will need to wake up. … something that certainly didn’t happen at the AAC against a poor opponent.

“We weren’t very good,” said Nowitzki, who had 18 points and nine rebounds and seemed to express some ire at teammates on the floor. “I mean, you can blame everybody all the way around.”

Dallas was handed an early break when four minutes into the game, inspirational leader Tyson Chandler exited due to an upper-respiratory infection. With the former Mav off the floor and with the Knicks just a 10-win team so far this season, anyway, the stage was set.

Set for the Mavs to heed Dirk’s cautionary playoff-worthy warning and please him by proving him wrong.

Instead? Dallas let a true non-playoff-worthy club, the Knicks, dominate.

The Knicks sprinted to a 29-17 lead after the first quarter, with Carmelo Anthony scoring 15 of his game-high 19 points. (Shawn Marion seemed to sustain an ankle injury that played a role here; Marion did play through it.) Dallas had no answer for ‘Melo or for New York’s pick-and-roll feeds. Meanwhile, they muddled through the first half shooting only 36 percent, managing only three assists and scoring only 35 points — exactly half as many as this same bunch scored Friday in what would be a different sort of embarrassing loss, that one at home to the Clippers.

Also at halftime, Dallas was 0-of-8 from the arc and missed eight of its 17 free throws, including four clanks by Nowitzki.

“It was a very poor showing in the first half and I am taking the blame for all of it,” Carlisle said.

At one point this year, Dallas was 11-2 at the AAC, and we wrote and talked of a “friendly-confines atmosphere” in the building. Now? Dallas (19-15 and still hanging onto eighth in the West) has lost its last four games here and the AAC is apparently so unfriendly the team can’t even get starting center Sam Dalembert to come inside for practice.

For the second time in this young season, the veteran Dalembert has been punished for showing up late to a workout. At a time when the Mavs really need all hands on deck, Carlisle issued him a DNP.

Dalembert mumbled through a postgame visit, somewhere in there saying, “I can’t sleep at night” — suggesting there is a disorder of some sort that precludes him from being awake enough during the day to attend practices.

But Dalembert isn’t the only one around here napping on company time.

“I didn’t have them ready,” said Carlisle. “I will take the blame for that. It’s pretty clear. It starts at the top.”

And I don’t think Rick is paying lip service to this notion, or saying the tritely valiant thing, or accepting a bullet for his guys. I think he’s serious about being responsible for finding fixes up at the top before his Mavs find his way nearer the bottom … just where Nowitzki fears, playing like this, they might belong.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Top Trending:

More From CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

Drip Pan: CBS Local App
Drip Pan: Weather App

Watch & Listen LIVE