The Dallas Mavericks kicked off the upcoming two game road trip with a pitiful showing in Indiana against one of the Eastern Conference’ elite in the Indiana Pacers.
After hanging tight in the first quarter, the Pacers were able to push their lead to as many as 18 thanks in large part to the Mavericks shooting a paltry 30 percent connecting on only seven of their 23 attempts.
Dallas was able to stay within a reasonable distance in the third quarter, but the team essentially received the final nail in the coffin when Luka Doncic received his second technical foul of the game by kicking the ball into the stands, resulting in an ejection.
Thanks to some gritty play in the fourth quarter, the Mavericks salvaged what would have been a blowout loss and kept the game within a respectable score. Harrison Barnes led the way with 20 points, while the Pacers followed Tyreke Evans 19 points off the bench.
Here’s what we “observed” in this edition of Saturday night hoops.
The Pacers capitalized on turnovers
All things considered the Mavericks played a relatively clean game of basketball. They were sloppy early but tightened things up as the game went on, but the fact that the Pacers were able to score 21 points off of 13 Dallas turnovers was huge in the Pacers grabbing a big lead and never letting up.
Indiana scores 20 points off of turnovers on the season (3rd most in the NBA), and Dallas is never in any position to be able to recover from giving up that many cheap points, so it’s clearly a recipe for disaster.
Dallas looked flat
Considering tonight was just the second game played for the Mavericks in six days, the fact that the Mavericks looked sluggish and flat is discouraging. Give the Pacers credit, they’re a fantastic defensive team. Victor Oladipo is a hound on the perimeter and Myles Turner patrols the paint, but Dallas looked like hot trash, especially in the second quarter where the Pacers outscored the Mavericks by 15.
With Dallas down two playmakers in J.J. Barea and Dennis Smith Jr. it puts more of the offensive load on Doncic’s shoulders, and it was an abnormally bad night for the Rookie of the Year favorite. In 24 minutes, Doncic scored eight points, grabbed five rebounds and dished six assists while shooting a horrid 3-of-14 from the field and missed all five of his three point attempts. When Doncic has a poor performance like tonight, it’s nearly impossible for the Mavericks to win.
Jalen Brunson had a fun second half
If you’ve been living under a rock (and not reading Mavs Moneyball) you know that the Mavericks have lost Barea for the season, and it remains to be seen when - and if - Smith will return to the team, so that leaves the Mavericks with only Doncic and Brunson to run the point for the near future. Tonight, Brunson was one of the few bright spots contributing 12 points and four assists while shooting 5-of-9 from the field. All of the rookie’s points came in the second half and he was a big reason the Mavericks were able to stay within reaching distance late in the fourth. The rookie will certainly be thrust into a larger role moving forward, so it will be interesting to see how he acquits himself with the extended playing time.
The Mavericks fall to 20-25 and 4-19 on the road with this loss. The team will travel to Milwaukee to take on the East leading Bucks on Monday afternoon.