The Dallas Mavericks were defeated by the Toronto Raptors Monday night, 116-93. The depleted team was able to keep the game within single digits until around the third quarter, when the Raptors blew the game open. Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Lowry led their respective teams with 23 points each.
Both teams struggled offensively out of the gate, but Porzingis found an early rhythm, putting the Mavericks up 10-9. The Mavericks struggled to buy a bucket early on, and as frustrations grew coach Rick Carlisle received two technical fouls, ejecting him from the game.
The Mavericks found their shooting in the second quarter, but the Brunson/Burke lineup gave up repeated drives to the rim, allowing the Raptors to push the lead to 33-28. The Raptors extended the margin to nine, but a great stretch by James Johnson and Brunson gave the Mavericks back the lead, 44-43. The score was tied at 47 to end the half.
Doncic and Porzingis showed how good their one-two punch can be to open the third, with Porzingis on the receiving end of two Doncic alley-oops. The Mavericks seemingly ran out of gas in the middle of the quarter, allowing the Raptors to go on an extended run to push the lead to a game-high of 12. They led by nine to end the quarter.
The wheels pretty much came off completely in the fourth, with the Mavericks showing understandable signs of fatigue and exhaustion on the second night of a back-to-back and a shorthanded roster. By the time Luka came back in around the eight minute mark, the Raptors were up by 16, and the lead continued to balloon from there.
The depth woes are catching up to Dallas
The Mavericks were missing Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Dwight Powell, and Maxi Kleber tonight. Each of those players provides important contributions, and their absence over the last several games has pushed the Mavericks to somewhat of a breaking point.
The coaching staff has had little choice but to play their remaining players extended minutes: Porzingis played 65 combined minutes during this back-to-back, which is not ideal at all considering his injury and recovery situation. Doncic was also in the Bulls game late to give the Mavericks a final push, and as a result he looked tired at various points tonight. Tim Hardaway Jr. was back in tonight even though he had a groin strain that kept him out Sunday’s game. Heck, even Carlisle couldn’t make it through the entire game today.
The Mavericks lacked any semblance of shooting
Dallas had one of their worst shooting performances tonight, going 38% from the field and an abysmal 25% from three. This is partially a result of the aforementioned absences, as Kleber and Finney-Smith provide reliable production from the perimeter. However, the three-point shooting issues are somewhat structural as well. Other than Porzingis, no one on the Mavericks is touted as a pure shooter, which means that many wide open shots from brilliant Doncic passes were often missed tonight as well as in other games.
Hardaway had an O-fer tonight, going 0-for-12 from the field and 0-for-6 from three. He was hesitant on shots he’d normally not think twice about, and at other times took truly awful shots, such as a transition pull-up at the free throw line with a Raptor player in his face and at least one passing option available. He’s certainly capable of bouncing back though, and he will need to in order for the Mavericks to generate quality offense.
Kristaps Porzingis was effective in his fourth game back
As with most of the other games this season with a Porzingis appearance, tonight all the highs and lows of his game were on display. He had an efficient stat-line, going 8-of-14 from the field and 2-of-5 from three, and had a game high 23 points. He was also effective in the paint, blocking two shots and altering a few more. This was best exemplified during the start of the third quarter, when Porzingis finished two alley-oops and blocked two shots while recovering the ball in a span of four minutes.
On the other hand, he frequently attempted various moves that he simply isn’t that good at, especially posting up. In most cases, whenever Porzingis received the ball around the elbow with his back to the basket, the result was a turnover. On the defensive end, he would rarely venture outside the paint, which would lead to open threes whenever he was switched onto a perimeter player. That was trouble as he shared the floor with another center in Willie Cauley-Stein. It just goes to show how important Kleber is right now.
The Mavericks visit the Indiana Pacers for a 6 p.m. CT matchup that can be viewed on Fox Sports Southwest or League Pass.