South Africa fell to a 35-17 defeat against the All-Blacks in Wellington, but following the 49-0 humiliation against Australia in their opening Tri-Nations game, the result offered reasons for optimism.
"This was a hugely committed performance from the Boks," Mallet wrote in his column in the Sunday Times.
"It was certainly in line with what we've grown used to defensively over the years.
"There was huge passion and commitment at the breakdown from our guys but we still have a problem in scoring tries. There is a lack of creativity from our backline which is worrying.
"The All Blacks were good with short inter-passing around the fringes - a feature of the game that I didn't think we handled particularly well, which was a problem. We were undisciplined around ruck and maul.
"It might almost have been a case of being over zealous.
"Fourie du Preez, Butch James and Jaques Fourie were all guilty, and they weren't the only ones."
The former Stade Francois and Bok coach said the difference was not Dan Carter's kicking but rather the inability for the Boks to find touch when they needed it.
"People may point out that the Test was all about the difference between Dan Carter's boot and Percy Montgomery's - let's face it, he didn't have a great day - but I think that the real issue was that at crucial times we didn't find touch when we should have. Du Preez and James were the culprits and in both cases the ball found its way to Carter.
"He's such an inventive player that both missed touches cost us dearly because the ball was run back at us and both situations led to tries for them at absolutely vital stages of the game.
"You don't want to be conceding tries then. The second one was run back at us and although Breyton Paulse managed to bring Carter down he'd already passed the ball to Richie McCaw who scored.
"That was in the 73rd minute and at that point the score was 28-17, so that was it."
Mallett added that, despite the improvement on the display in Brisbane, losing to New Zealand was still no cause for celebration.
"I was pleased with the levels of commitment and passion. The guys were stung from last week and they certainly came out and played for the jersey.
"But, let's face it, if you play with those levels of passion and still lose 35-17 then that's not anything to be particularly proud of.
"If a lack of commitment gives you the Brisbane result and 100% passion gives you this, we are in a pretty difficult situation going forward."
The Boks return to Sydney to start preparations for their final away game in the series.