The Mavericks returned home to American Airlines Center Friday night after suffering two heartbreaking losses to the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers on the road. They were hoping to get a confidence boost from the hometown crowd as the Mavs were riding a 5 game losing streak coming into tonight’s matchup.
It appeared that home court advantage was stripped from them right after the tip off. The Knicks came in with the same record as the Mavs at 2-6. But 7 different Knicks scored in double figures and shot the lights out of the arena to prolong Dallas’s losing streak.
Here are four things we learned from tonight’s loss:
Dorian Finney-Smith needs to see more playing time
Probably one of if not the only bright spot from tonight’s game, Finney-Smith was the only Maverick contributing on both sides of the ball tonight.
Finney-Smith has shown consistently this season on both sides of the ball that he deserves more recognition and time on the court. Tonight was no different. DFS made his first 4 shots on the night, 2 of those from 3 point range, as he helped the Mavs come back in the second quarter and dropped 12 in the first half.
Finney-Smith went on to score 19 points and grab 7 rebounds and shoot a remarkable 80 percent from the field. He raised his season FG% to around 52 percent and also led the Mavs tonight with two steals.
With the sloppy and inconsistent overall play of Wesley Matthews in the starting lineup, Finney-Smith might be the answer for a successful lineup change.
The Mavs lack of hustle and energy is starting to become an issue
Coming into tonight’s matchup the Mavs have heard nothing but criticism about how they start games. That trend continued as the Mavs allowed 33 first quarter points while scoring just 27. Although the Mavs did come back and take the lead going into halftime, they had blown coverage all over the floor in the first half.
They allowed a below average New York Knicks team to shoot 51 percent from the field and an astonishing 18/21 (86 percent) from the mid-range in the first half.
The Knicks managed to come in to the second half like a team possessed and refused to let Dallas gain any momentum on either side of the court. The Mavs turned the ball over 13 times in the second half and the Knicks shot even better in the second half than in the first.
With all of the issues that the Mavs are battling right now in the early part of the season, their inability to give consistent effort and focus might be the hardest to overcome.
Carlisle might want to get the ball in Luka Doncic’s hands more
Through just 9 games, Dallas Mavericks fans can see how bright their future is with Luka Doncic.
Entering tonight’s game, Luka was averaging 20/6/4 on 46 percent shooting. He has proven to be a stud in late game moments as he almost single handedly stole a game from the Spurs in no less than a week ago. Tonight was no different.
In the 4th quarter the Mavs knew that they would need key defensive stops and their starters to get hot on offense. Doncic did his part by making every shot he took as he went 4/4 in the 4th with 10 points. The sad part is, Luka only had the ball FOUR TIMES the entire quarter! Which is flat out baffling. Luka needs the ball, period.
Despite pouring in 23 points, Dennis Smith Jr. had another terrible night in the turnover category with 6. Dennis’s inconsistent playmaking ability leads to quick points on turnovers for the other team (the Knicks scored on every one of Dennis’s turnovers tonight).
It might be time for the younger phenom to get the keys to the offense of this team. If the Mavs look to get out of a deep early season hole, they will need to start changing things up now.
The defense was nowhere to be found
22nd in points per game allowed, 30th in 3 pointers allowed, 20th in opponent field goal percentage, and 27th overall in defensive efficiency. These are the atrocious defensive numbers that the Dallas Mavericks walked into this game with.
Dallas was hoping that tonight would be the beginning of a team showed signs of playing at least league average defense. The Knicks came in with the 26th worst average in points per game at 106. Sadly, the Knicks went on to have one of their best overall performances of the young season.
By the end of the night 7 different Knicks ended the game in double-figures — 5 of whom shot 70 percent or better from the floor. The overall ball movement and young athletic play of the Knicks were apparently too much to handle for a lethargic Mavericks defense.
With the Mavs matching the Knicks shot for shot for the first 24 minutes of this game, it came down to defensive stops to start the second half. The Knicks shot above 60 percent in the 3rd, and the Mavs slightly under 45 percent.
The Knicks only had one person on their team averaging 20 points+ coming in (Tim Hardaway Jr.). He couldn’t manage to score 20 and the Mavs still found a way to lose by 12.
So yeah — these 3 upcoming days off will be much needed for a team struggling to find its identity.