The Dallas Mavericks lost again Monday night and again to the Phoenix Suns, 109-108. Devin Booker was the hero of the fourth quarter for the Suns and poured in 24 in the contest, but stalwart Chris Paul cooked the Mavericks to the tune of 34 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists. Luka Doncic had 25 points and Josh Richardson scored 24 in defeat for Dallas.
The return of Maxi Kleber to the court and the starting line up marked the early minutes of the game for the Dallas Mavericks. Josh Richardson led the charge early, with a number of drives to the basket and Tim Hardaway broke the lid on the basket for three pointers for the team after an eight minute drought from deep to start the game. Both Dallas and the Suns looked a bit rusty early and after twelve minutes the two teams were tied, 22-22.
Chris Paul helped cook the Mavericks in the second half as the Maverick bench unit couldn’t score. Josh Richardson again helped save the Dallas offense, hitting a pair of threes and holding the line until Luka Doncic got going. Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis scored all eight point as the Mavericks closed the half on an 8-0 run. Dallas took a 53-47 lead into the half.
The Mavericks came out in the third on a mission and looked ready to run the Suns right out of the gym. Attacking the offensive glass paired with some timely threes resulted in Dallas building a double digit lead. But the Suns really wouldn’t go away. Dallas kept a seven to eleven point lead for most of the period but in the final four minutes, the Suns sent soft double teams at Luka Doncic and the Mavericks could not convert any of the four on three situations. With the offense gunked up, the defense briefly lost it’s intensity. The Mavericks slowed the run as the Suns got as close as three and took a 82-77 lead into the fourth.
With Luka Doncic on the bench to start the fourth, the Suns kept coming. The Suns tied the game at 87 and then each team proceeded to trade haymakers the rest of the half. Ties and lead changes throughout the frame until Dallas took a 108-106 lead with 55 seconds remaining on Josh Richardson free throws. The Mavericks would not score again as they only took two field goals in the last minute. The Suns got repeated offensive boards and Devin Booker hit his fourth three of the quarter with 1.5 seconds left to seal the game. Luka Doncic could not answer with a prayer of his own and the Mavericks fell 109-108.
There are no moral victories
It must be said that the Dallas Mavericks played much better team defense. Well right up until they didn’t, of course, but a huge chunk of this game was better played by the Mavericks on the side of the ball they’ve been getting roasted on.
But they still lost and in gut wrenching fashion. There’s not much to say on this point beyond I don’t think there are moral victories. I’m having a hard time taking anything positive away from the game. There were so many open looks guys just didn’t hit. So many bad turnovers that were avoidable. It’s just frustrating.
Things fell apart in the third quarter and it carried over into the fourth.
The Mavericks were up 77-66 with four plus minutes in the third quarter. Then the Suns started throwing soft doubles at Luka Doncic as he dribbled up the court. He made the right pass and Dallas ended up with a wide open corner three which they missed. The next possession Maxi Kleber got the ball from Doncic at the free throw line. He threw a wild pass off the back board. Then they had Brunson bring the ball up and it resulted in Hardaway missing an open jumper. After that Brunson missed a driving lay up. Meanwhile the Suns cut the lead down to three. The Mavericks escaped the quarter up five.
Then a unit of mixed starters and bench players allowed the Suns to go on a 10-0 run with Luka Doncic on the bench. A Brunson lay up and one salvaged things some, but going -7 in the few minutes Doncic is resting is very bad. The foundations of the loss started in the third and were on full display midway through the quarter.
Dallas still can’t hit any three point shots
It’s comical at this point. Richardson broke his nearly month long streak with two threes at the top of the key but then missed four others. Jalen Brunson, a true bright spot this year from three, missed all of his looks including two which were wide, wide open. Dorian Finney Smith connected on a rare above-the-break three, then missed all his other attempts which were corner looks. Doncic was one for four, including his last second attempt but was also robbed of a three on a Hardaway offensive foul. Porzingis hit three of seven but missed various wide open shots. 31.3% on the game from three as a team. It’s very bad.