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Mavericks sputter in the clutch, again

The late game collapse against the Pacers is indicative of the Mavericks struggles in the clutch this season.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The final few minutes of Sunday’s game against the Indiana Pacers were a disaster for the Dallas Mavericks. Having clawed their way back from double-digits several times in the game, they built a five-point lead with 3:14 remaining. It appeared that the Mavericks were on the verge of capping off their three-game home stand with a win. Then the wheels fell off.

Dallas’ five-point lead came on the back of a made Luka Doncic free throw. It would be the last point the Mavericks scored in the game. They missed their next nine field goals, including two three-point attempts by Doncic in the closing seconds that would have tied the game at 112. Indiana won, 112-109.

“I think we had some open shots, we just didn’t make them,” Doncic said.

The Mavs did have some good looks as the clock wound down. Maxi Kleber had a clean three-point shot miss. Tim Hardaway Jr. had a layup blocked by Victor Oladipo and missed an open three. Courtney Lee had a three-pointer miss. Kristaps Porzingis had a three-point try blocked by Myles Turner and so on.

Unfortunately, late game collapses aren’t anything new for this team. Doncic’s late misses only add to the Mavericks’ clutch woes this season. He’s now 0-for-9 on shots to tie or take the lead in the fourth quarter or overtime this season. Last year, he was 6-for-11 on such shots, John Schulmann of noted after the game.

Of the 65 games the Mavericks have played, 33 of them have gone into the clutch. Dallas has only won 13 of these contests, dropping the other 20, for a winning percentage of .394. What’s more, their offensive rating plummets to 94.5 in these situations. It was an astounding 30 against the Pacers.

“It be like that sometimes. You just don’t make shots,” Porzingis said. “It came down to those shots and those situations but there’s so many other things that could have went better during the game.”

He’s not wrong. The Pacers stymied the Mavericks for much of the first half, playing tough, physical defense. Still, Dallas was able to keep things close. Porzingis, who’s been riding a hot streak took the brunt of Indiana’s attention and struggled throughout. He missed all of his shots from deep and took some of the blame for the loss.

Still, the game came down to the final moments and the team could not find a way to win on its home floor before heading to San Antonio on Tuesday to face the Spurs on the first night of a back-to-back. Simply put, the Mavericks didn’t execute as they needed to and it cost them the game.

“We got to do a better job. We just got to do better,” Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle said. “And as the coach, it’s my job to facilitate that. I got to do a better job.”