In what is becoming a regular occurrence, the Dallas Mavericks started slow in front of a raucous New York crowd booing Kristaps Porzingis every chance they could get. Luka Doncic was about the only thing that went right for Dallas in the third quarter, single handedly keeping the team afloat with 13 points on seven made free throws on nine attempts. Porzingis started the game extremely flat missing his first three shots and looking completely out of sorts as the Knicks took a 27-23 lead.
The second quarter can be summarized in one tweet:
Three pointers in the second quarter:— Sam Guertler (@SamGuertler) November 15, 2019
New York: 5-8
The Mavericks inability to hit threes was a problem but the team stayed within striking distance by earning 25 trips to the free throw line (making 19 of them) compared to the Knicks seven attempts as New York maintained a 58-53 lead into the half.
Dallas showed signs of life in the third quarter, trimming the lead to two at 77-75, and then the Knicks and Doncic went shot for shot on a three-point blitz in the final few minutes. The Mavericks put an exclamation point on an exciting third quarter with an emphatic put bank dunk by Porzingis knotting the game up at 85:
The Mavericks took their first lead since the first quarter on a Tim Hardaway Jr. corner three with about six minutes remaining in the final frame but couldn’t capitalize on the momentum going down to the wire with the lowly Knicks. After an RJ Barrett missed runner, the Mavericks despicably failed to box out Julius Randle who gathered the rebound and gave the Knicks an extra possession. That was all she wrote for the Mavericks as Marcus Morris nailed a step-back three to put his team up 104-101 which was the final nail in the coffin. The Knicks 106-103 win gave them their third win of the season, and two of those came against the Mavericks. Disgusting.
Even though Doncic put up another triple double with 33 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, Dallas falls to 6-5 while the Knicks move to 3-9 on 20 points by Marcus Morris Sr.
The Knicks outshot the Mavericks...again
In the two teams’ first matchup, the Knicks bested the Mavericks from distance, connecting on 14-of-28 (50 percent) from behind the arc compared to just 14-of-44 (32 percent) for Dallas, and tonight was eerily similar.
With only Dorian Finney-Smith (?) and Dwight Powell (??) posting quality percentages, Dallas clunked their way to an 8-of-35 shooting night from behind the arc while New York connected on 13-of-30 from deep including the absolutely back breaking step-back three from Morris in the closing seconds that effectively sealed the game for the Knicks.
It was pretty obvious when the Mavericks failed to sign anyone with any type of prerequisite of shooting the basketball in the offseason that the team would struggle to keep defenses honest, but yet the Mavericks continue to chuck because they can do nothing else outside of watch Doncic keep them in games.
The Mavericks bench was severely outplayed
It’s almost staggering considering how good the Mavericks bench usually is, but the Knicks bested the second unit tonight, and it was a huge difference in the game. In total, the New York reserves outscored the Dallas reserves 52-29.
Led by Dennis Smith Jr. (13 points, eight assists and six rebounds) and Mitchell Robinson (16 points and eight rebounds), the Knicks were able to ride the Doncic waves and put constant pressure on the Mavericks to play catch up for the entire game. The Knicks also received quality contributions from Bobby Portis (10 points) and Damyean Dotson (seven points).
Tim Hardaway Jr. (12 points) and Boban Marjanovic (10 points) paced the Dallas bench, but the team got little else from Jalen Brunson, Delon Wright and Maxi Kleber. Encouragingly, Wright played well defensively and was in late during crunch time for his defensive chops while Kleber was the biggest disappointment scoring zero points and grabbing only four rebounds.
It’s time to reset expectations for the Mavericks
Let’s get something straight: The first few weeks of the season were fun. Dallas had new toys and looked like a different basketball team than what we’re used to seeing. However, looking back Dallas has failed to take advantage of their opening stretch.
The Mavericks beat the Nuggets on the road and took the Lakers to overtime, but other than that they’ve been a very mixed bag, to be polite. The win in New Orleans against the Pelicans is looking less impressive by the day. They lost to Portland at home, and the Trail Blazers have been mediocre this season. And in all, the schedule has been easy! Wins against the Magic, Grizzlies and Wizards are not impressive.
Maybe it says more about how much of a star Doncic is that he’s dragged this team to a 6-5 start. Maybe it’s the coaching considering the Mavericks have faced a six point deficit in the first quarter in eight of the 11 games and consistently look flat every third quarter. Or maybe the supporting cast around Doncic just isn’t that good. I don’t have the answer, but losing twice within the week against the Knicks warrants serious reflection on who the Mavericks really are.
Dallas gets Toronto at home this Saturday. Tune in with us then.
Here’s the postgame podcast, Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you can’t see the embed below “More from Mavs Moneyball” below, click here. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe by searching “Mavs Moneyball podcast” into your favorite podcast app.