This is probably not the season-opening split the Dallas Mavericks envisioned.
When the NBA announced its 2012-13 schedule, the Mavs found themselves starting on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers and the Utah Jazz.
They ended up defeating the Lakers and losing to the Jazz not the other way around after crumbling in the second half of Wednesday night's 113-94 disappointment at EnergySolutions Arena.
Dallas owned a 63-55 lead at halftime but was outscored 37-13 in the decisive third quarter. Utah broke away from a 74-74 tie in the final 4:24 and never looked back.
"You get beat by 24 in a quarter, that's a convincing beating," said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle. "We didn't match their aggression in the third, and that was the difference in the game."
At the end of the first half, the Mavs erased an eight-point deficit by scoring 24 points in the final 5:17. Dallas made six 3-pointers during its explosive stretch and finished the half 10-for-16.
"We didn't play great in the first half," Carlisle said. "That scoring run at the end was some timely shot-making, and we were able to string a few stops together. ...
"[But] it was clear they took it personally and really came out physical and aggressive. They gained the leverage on us. We couldn't sustain anything."
After beating the Lakers 99-91 in their opener on Tuesday night, the Mavericks appeared to run out of gas in the third quarter against the Jazz. It ended with them converting only one of their final 12 possessions.
"Their [energy] was better than ours," Carlisle said. "Without looking at the film, I believe that to be a fair statement. They took advantage of the situation, and they earned the win."
Said veteran forward Shawn Marion: "Everything that could have went wrong went wrong, and we couldn't bounce back from it."
The Jazz owned two huge statistical advantages against the Mavs.
First, Utah outrebounded Dallas 61-40 and converted 20 offensive rebounds into 21 second-chance points. Paul Millsap grabbed 15 rebounds. Al Jefferson had 12.
"This is probably the toughest team to deal with on the boards," Carlisle said, "because they come at you with waves of energetic big men."
Secondly, the Jazz made 31 of 42 free-throw attempts. Dallas made 19 of only 26.
"It was a march to the free-throw line and [their] shot-making was really there in the second half," Carlisle said. "So it turned into a lousy night for us. But they had a lot to do with it, and we've got to be better. ... We have a long way to go to be the kind of basketball team we want to be."
Point guard Darren Collison led the Mavericks with 17 points, including 13 in the first half. Brandan Wright added 15 for Dallas, which played without injured All-Star Dirk Nowitzki and projected starting center Chris Kaman.
Elton Brand, who managed five points on 2-for-8 shooting, left the court late in the game and retreated to the locker room.
Brand indicated he took a shot to the midsection and landed on his wrist, but said, "It will be all right."
Asked about starting the season with a split against the Lakers and Jazz, Brand shrugged.
"A split on the road isn't bad," he said. "But it's not what we wanted. Being up eight at halftime, we kind of thought we'd open up the lead a little bit and be able to win this one. But they played harder, and they did deserve this win."