Dallas fell to the Phoenix Suns 123-108 in a loss that would probably have felt better if it wasn't coming off such a bad game the night before.
The Mavericks had played an exhausting overtime affair against Toronto on Friday night, and it showed from the tip-off. Dirk missed his first five shots and the team as a whole looked exhausted, trailing 38-25 at the end of the quarter.
The poor defensive theme would continue the entire night -- particularly in the fourth quarter, where the Mavericks allowed another 32 points to negate an attempted comeback the offense kept trying to put together.
For the second consecutive night, Dallas scored 60+ points in the paint. To lose both of those games is historically bad -- it had only happened twice in Mavs history. Here's the wonderful @mavstats talking about it after last night's loss.
Mavs scored 60 paint pts in tonight's loss to TOR. It's only their 3rd loss since '85-86 when scoring 60+ in the paint (14-3).— mavstats (@mavstats) December 21, 2013
Monta Ellis led the charge and Brandan Wright clearly helped the Mavericks dominate instead of the painted area, but it was all for naught, negated by hot three-point shooting from the Suns all night.
Phoenix finished the game 15-of-30 from deep, blowing away Dallas' 3-of-17 total. Channing Fyre hit four of those shots, and added a couple of post moves in the fourth quarter to stifle any thoughts of a comeback.
After a promising home stand with two good-looking wins, the Mavericks drop down to 15-12 and have now lost eight of their last 14 games.
- Monta's attacked the basket all year, but the effort he's made these past couple of games is just ridiculous. Seriously, check out his shot charts. Other than a couple of threes, all his shots came at the rim.
- Unfortunately, that 8-of-15 could be a lot better. Three of those misses were reverse layups that he tried to shoot without using the glass, which baffles me. Banking it in makes that such an easier shot.
- So the Mavericks are in a bit of a tailspin, but the good news is Brandan Wright. In his fourth game back, he's been a heaven-send. Tonight, he had another ho-hum statline of 19 points in 29 minutes on 8-of-10 shooting, six rebounds and four blocks. It's hard to express how much I love watching him play the game of basketball, more awkwardly graceful than any other player in league history.
- Dirk got it going a little bit in the second half, but it was clear he didn't really have his legs on a 7-of-17 night from the floor with a lot of his shots banging off the front of the rim. Fortunately, he only played 30 minutes after a season-high 43 last night that he said left him fatigued at the end.
- Blame the bad defense on tired legs from the back-to-back if you want, but it was clear all the problems were stemming from Eric Bledsoe getting into the lane at will. Goran Dragic and P.J. Tucker didn't have much difficulty either. If they weren't finishing at the rim, it was a kick-out for a corner three.
- This game showed the Mavericks desperately need a defensive point guard with some size to stick next to Monta for Christmas, but I'm afraid Santa doesn't work like that.
- Calderon looked to still be on fire, but Phoenix was smart enough to limit him to five field goal attempts. He added six assists, no turnovers and a sweet block on Dragic, though.
- The games keep coming for the Mavericks, starting with Houston on Monday. Dallas has done good things the past couple of days, but it needs to all come together at once now.