After a complete game Friday against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Mavericks came out flat against the Indiana Pacers Sunday night. Dallas racked up a few turnovers and a handful of missed shots in the first four minutes of action, and it all was compounded when Luka Doncic picked up his second foul with 7:39 in the quarter. Kristaps Porzingis was particularly dreadful going 0-for-5 from the field. The Pacers came out firing, connecting on nearly 60 percent of their field goals while knocking down four triples to take a 31-26 lead after one.
The second quarter was mostly bleak for the Mavericks. After a Dallas bucket trimmed the lead to 38-35, the Mavericks proceeded to miss their next 11 attempts while the Pacers were able to stretch their lead to as big as nine points. For the quarter the Mavericks were a paltry 8-of-27 from the field, but thanks to Doncic’s 17 points, the Mavericks trailed by only three going into the half, 55-52. It’s almost a miracle the game was still within reach after two quarters considering the Pacers shot 55 percent, Porzingis was a horrendous 1-12 in the half, and the non-Doncic starters combined to make only five shots in the half.
The teams traded blows in the the third quarter, and the Mavericks knocked on the door of taking the lead on several occasions. Dallas evened up the score twice, but Indiana responded each time down the floor. Doncic was mostly brilliant in the quarter, scoring 16, including a tremendous four-point play, but he had a couple of turnovers and sloppy defense late in the quarter that allowed the Pacers to take an 86-84 lead into the fourth.
The fourth quarter opened with a Justin Holiday triple, but the Mavericks responded with a Porzingis free throw, and three consecutive money balls to take their first lead of the game at 94-93. The Mavericks looked to be in the drivers’ seat the rest of the way, especially when the held a 109-104 with 3:14 left in the game. But the Pacers rallied back and scored eight straight points to possess a 112-109 lead with 13.7 seconds left. Doncic got two tough looks from three (the second after an offensive rebound), but couldn’t connect on either and the Mavericks lost 112-109.
Dallas was led by Doncic’s 36 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists but got little from anyone else and shot 43 percent from the field as a team. The Pacers were led by Domantas Sabonis’ 20 points, 17 rebounds and six assists, and also received double-digit nights from five other players.
With a chance to make headway in the standings, the Mavericks fell flat and fall to 39-26.
Here are some notes:
Welcome back Tim Hardaway. Jr.
After missing last game with an illness, Hardaway returned to the starting lineup and didn’t skip a beat. He finished with 30 points and splashed in six of his 11 triples turning in an efficient scoring night. His shot chart was beautiful, cutting midrange jumpers almost entirely and either hoisting from deep or attacking the rim with frequency.
With Seth Curry on the sidelines, the Mavericks needed someone to step in alongside Doncic and Porzingis, and Hardaway did that in spades. Porzingis on the other hand....
Porzingis was dreadful
There’s no way to sugar coat it, and it’s disappointing after one of the best stretches of basketball he’s arguably ever played. Porzingis started the game 0-for-9, and he reverted to a lot of bad habits that plagued him early in the season. There was aimless dribbling, errant passes, and he frequently got pushed away from his preferred spots. It makes sense the Pacers honed in on taking away the Mavericks big man since he torched them for 38 points and 12 rebounds the last time out, but his complete inability to do anything at all was clearly a problem. He finished with nine points and eight rebounds on 3-of-17 from the field and 0-of-5 from deep.
The Mavericks collapsed late
It’s quite disheartening considering the Mavericks scratched and clawed their way back after being down the majority of the game. With 4:40 remaining in the game, Hardaway laid the ball in pushing the Mavericks’ lead to 108-104, but the wheels came off from there. Here are the Mavericks’ offensive possessions the rest of the way:
- Porzingis turnover
- Doncic missed layup
- Doncic makes one of two free throws
- Doncic missed three
- Maxi Kleber missed three
- Hardaway missed three
- Doncic blocked at the rim
- Porzingis turnover
- Porzingis’ three blocked by Myles Turner
- Courtney Lee missed three
- Doncic missed three - offensive rebound - Doncic missed three
It was a dreadful few minutes, and the clutch time woes will certainly plague an inexperienced Dallas team in the playoffs should they even be in the clutch against one of the West’s best teams.
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.