Two games against the Suns that seemed winnable, but without Luka Doncic, Dallas just didn’t have the execution down the stretch to cement a win. There could be reason for optimism if you see playing a finals contender close without your MVP candidate, but there’s no moral victories in the win/loss column, so Dallas will take its two-game losing streak to face the Clippers and hope for a better outcome.
7: Suns third quarter turnovers
n a game where neither team was necessarily lighting it up from the floor, Dallas did well in the third quarter to earn themselves additional high quality shot attempts by playing some highly energetic defense. After the Suns gave up five turnovers in the first half, the seven they coughed up in the third was a big reason why Dallas was able to assert themselves and turn a four point deficit into a five point lead heading into the fourth. It was the highpoint of the game for Dallas, right before everything fell apart in the fourth. Dallas did finish the game with 15 turnovers forced to Phoenix’s seven, so with any luck, they can keep that defensive ball hawking when Doncic returns to stabilize the offense.
50%: Dorian Finney-Smith’s three point shooting percentage over his last 6 games.
That’s a welcome return to form for a guy who shot nearly 40% from three last year, but opened the first six games of this campaign by shooting just shy of 19% from the arc. Also plays into a Dorian story line worth following this year: Finney-Smith has increased his 3 point percentage in each of his first five years in the league. To accomplish that feat this year, he’d have to best last year’s 39.4%, so it’s nice to see his current hot stretch of shooting keep that dream alive.
67.5%: Fourth quarter shooting for the Suns in the last two games
In both contests, Dallas took a lead into the fourth quarter, only to fall apart. Dallas at least threw some counterpunches in Wednesday’s game, with a 53% shooting fourth quarter of their own. Tonight, that was just a paltry 29%, and things were more or less settled after the Suns ripped off a 14-2 run over four and a half minutes and never looked back.
It’s a pair of performances reminiscent of the Mavs squad from two or three year ago, when Dallas was just feisty enough to stick around in games, but didn’t have the talent or experience necessary to get the job done in crunch time. It was scrappy then, it’s just plain frustrating now. It’s true, Dallas was facing a huge talent gulf without Luka against Phoenix, but any game that slips away in the fourth is going to hurt, Luka or no Luka.
Here’s our latest episode of Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you’re unable to see the embed below, click here to be taken to the podcast directly. Or go to your favorite podcast app and search Mavs Moneyball Podcast.