Dallas couldn’t do much of anything throughout the night against a Los Angeles team missing Anthony Davis. The team came out flat, LeBron James did what he wanted, the officiating was weird and that was that.
The Mavericks don’t have long to think about it — they play the 76ers Saturday night on the second night of a back-to-back.
Here’s what we noticed.
This was a tremendously ugly and dispiriting loss
The Mavericks will be OK. Kristaps Porzingis is hurt, he’ll return soon and the Mavericks will be at full strength for the first time in weeks. Dallas is also led by a 20-year-old and as amazing as he has been, he’s still a 20-year-old. The Mavericks were bound to run into a bump in the road.
This is a helluva bump though.
This game felt over within the first six minutes of the game. Dallas went down by double digits before the halfway point of the first quarter and it never got back to a single digit game again. The Mavericks looked sluggish, disinterested and out of whack — during one sequence in the first quarter, the Mavericks missed three open three pointers in one possession. Not only did they miss them all, they missed them badly. For whatever reason, the Mavericks were not ready to play this game.
It didn’t help that the officiating was weird. Lots of fouls called (and not called on Luka Doncic), lots of stoppages and just a weird flow. The game was ugly to watch, not just because of the Mavericks early performance, but just the way the refs controlled the game. We had two flagrant foul reviews in the first quarter. There was zero rhythm. Rick Carlisle got tossed in the fourth quarter and he seemed to represent all the Mavs fans frustrations.
The Mavericks and Luka are going to have to figure out this referee thing. On one hand, Luka is clearly getting the shaft on some calls lately and he has every right to be pissed off about it. On the other, it’s a little unnerving how easily the Mavericks seem to meltdown when things aren’t going their way. Thankfully the Mavericks are still a pretty good team! They’ll still make the playoffs. It’s just a reminder that there is more work to do and room to grow for this group.
The bench had nothing
After finally showing some life in the third quarter, the Mavericks cut the lead to 91-81 with 3:34 left in the quarter. It was the closest the game had been since the first and it seemed like Dallas had a chance to at least make this thing a game.
After the Lakers timeout, both Luka and LeBron went to the bench. This was a chance for the Mavericks, who have had one of the best benches in the league, to take advantage. Instead, Dallas lost those final three minutes by three.
This was when the game was officially dead and buried. The Mavs bench gave them nothing all night — Seth Curry was 6-of-14 from the floor, Delon Wright disappeared after a really good stretch in the first half and Jalen Brunson continued to slump. Those three guards are supposed to give the Mavericks an advantage off the bench, as teams usually struggle to field quality guards on their reserve units. Dallas getting nothing from that trio, plus just two points and zero made threes from Maxi Kleber in 23 minutes, was killer. The starters weren’t that much better, but the bench really was a major let down aside from Boban Marjanovic, who somehow scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in 10 minutes. I’m not the biggest Boban fan (his defense is really hard to watch at times) but hell, maybe the Mavericks should keep trying it for more run. What do they have to lose?
The game was lost in the first quarter
I’ve already mentioned the Mavericks bad start to the game, but it’s worth repeating — Dallas lost a first quarter at home to a Lakers team without Anthony Davis 45-27. That’s just a catastrophic start they were never able to overcome.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the start was how wonky the offense looked. Anthony Davis is a legit Defensive Player of the Year candidate, hell maybe the front-runner and the Mavericks still couldn’t do much with him sitting the game out due to injury. The Lakers still employ lots of length in the front court with Davis’ absence, but you figured the Mavericks could have done a little bit more.
They started the game with a beautiful ally-oop to Dwight Powell from Doncic and I thought the Mavs were going to exploit Javale McGee’s inconsistent effort. Instead the Mavericks just missed lots of open threes and showed some weird body language. Dallas finished 11-of-38 from three and right at 40 percent from the field overall. Woof.
Here’s the postgame podcast, Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you can’t see the embed below “More from Mavs Moneyball”, click here. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe by searching “Mavs Moneyball podcast” into your favorite podcast app.