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3 things we learned from the Mavericks’ totally avoidable OT loss to the Lakers, 119-110

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The Dallas Mavericks played 53 minutes of basketball tonight. Some of them were good.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of the Mavs Moneyball crew came into this season with a conservative view of what the 2019-2020 Dallas Mavericks could become. We’re pessimists by nature. If the early going is any indication of where they’ll end up, we were wrong to worry. That being said, they cannot afford losses like tonight. In our preseason roundtable where we predicted the Mavericks’ final record I said we’d have four games where the Mavericks “just absolutely, inexcusably blow it.” I hope it’s only four.

The young Mavericks had been finding ways to win games in all manner of styles, but they couldn’t find a way tonight. Tonight, they blew layup after layup, dealt with a wildly inconsistent officiating crew (I don’t mean biased toward either team, just inconsistent in what was/wasn’t called), threw the ball away seemingly as often as possible, shot 69 percent (not nice) from the free throw line, didn’t foul up three points late, and played in crunch time through a second-year player with a bleeding head wound.

The Lakers have the better duo. For now.

I got to see Luka Doncic block LeBron James twice on one possession in January of this year at Staples Center. It was a great moment in a bittersweet season. At that time it just seemed cool that Luka was playing well against his idol. Now it feels like Luka and LeBron are true peers. Not equals yet, but Luka could outplay LeBron on any given night. Tonight, unfortunately, was not that night. Luka was great, but LeBron gave just a little bit more.

LeBron James has played in this league for a long time, but his dunk with 4:06 left in regulation, and then then his performance in overtime, reminded us that he’s still the best player alive.

Anthony Davis is an incredible talent. Kristaps Porzingis is a wounded unicorn, still rounding into form. Porzingis will never have the defensive chops or the low-post game of Davis, but any night that he can play at 80 percent of Davis’ level is a win for the Mavericks. UNFORTUNATELY AGAIN, tonight was not that night. Porzingis played Davis at close to a draw in the first half, and then proceeded to get whooped in the remainder of the game. If there is one thing I could ask of Kristaps Porzingis: when a 6-footer is guarding you in the post, please don’t take a fadeaway 15-foot jumper.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Mavericks have better reserves. A strength they leaned on, even though none of it matters.

The Mavericks rode a long stretch with their two stars on the bench in the first half and the reserves held-actually increased-the lead. They outscored the Lakers bench 38 – 22. That’s good! They shot 35.7 percent from the field. That’s bad! This loss was not the fault of the bench, but better play from Maxi Kleber and Tim Hardaway Jr. sure would’ve been nice. Also, Jalen Brunson was bad tonight. He was a big disappointment in a game where he was sorely needed.

Dwight Powell! Movement!

Powell started and played 10 minutes in the first half and had 9 points and 5 rebounds, and flew around the floor the way they need him to. Powell’s rim running is a necessary component to the success of the Mavericks, and in the first half it looked promising. Powell played another 15 minutes in the second half and finished with…14 and 5. Dwight Powell is a very important Maverick. I’m confident he’ll look better over the next few games.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Miscellany:

  • ALWAYS FOUL UP THREE. JESUS CHRIST, RICK.
  • Boban! We got an answer to one of the burning questions plaguing Mavericks fans, and finally got to see Boban in game action. NBA fans across the country rejoice.
  • Mike Finley’s turtleneck game is strong as hell.
  • The Never Under .500 Club Still Exists. It’s going to be ok.
  • Dwight Howard looked like an NBA player for 27 minutes and that’s a huge win for the Lakers. He also got away with a foul that lead to another huge win for the Lakers.
  • Luka seems to very much hate being guarded by a small, frisky player.
  • Trick-or-Treat Tim was at it again. Hardaway has occasional moments where he looks serviceable. But is that a reason for him to lead the team in first-half minutes as he’s missing six shots? He’s the most frustrating player on the team to watch.

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