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3 things as the offense sputters and the Mavericks fall to the Pacers, 109-92

The offense goes off the rails without its conductor

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

As Luka Doncic was ruled out pre-game with lower back tightness, this game against a middling Eastern conference team instantly got a lot harder. Kristaps Porzingis has played some of his best games against Indiana, so there was some hope that Dallas could muster enough to bring home the win, but falling flat from beyond the arc ultimately meant the Mavericks’ offense didn’t have the juice it needed. It looked like they might mount a comeback when they pulled within four 84-80 early in the fourth, but from that point on it was all Indiana.

The Pacers got contributions up and down the rotation. Six players scored in double digits and were led by Malcom Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis’ matching 22-point nights. Porzingis showed real effort and earned his first career first-half double double with 15 points and 13 rebounds. He ended with 31 and 18 and had a solid defensive game particularly as the Mavs were giving it one last go in the fourth.

Make or Miss League

While the Pacers matched a season high from beyond the arc, making 20 as a team on a 40+% clip, the Mavericks were nothing short of horrid. Going 8-35 isn’t going to get it done for a team built around being able to outscore the competition, despite an offseason attempt to shore up on the defensive end.

It’s a shame as the Mavericks did actually win the rebound battle and matched Indy’s total shots made with both teams making 38 field goals from the floor, but the Pacers’ potency from downtown kept this game from ever being too competitive.

An all-around KP showcase

Porzingis led all scorers in the game with 31. That’s just a single point less than the 32 total points contributed from the remaining starters. It was a given that in a game without Luka, Kristaps was going to have to shoulder much of the offense, but that kind of disparity doesn’t bode well in terms of winning.

On top of his contributions on the offensive side, Porzingis also played hard on defense grabbing boards. 7 of his 18 total rebounds were of the offensive variety, and he drew a huge charge late in the fourth as Dallas tried to claw their way back into the game. Alas, it wasn’t quite enough. There are nits to be picked about KP’s game, but they generally pale in comparison to how bad a shooting night it was for the rest of the team. Without Luka, players just weren’t getting the quality looks they need for this team to be a top offense.

Seems like not nothing?

Maybe it’s just a case of trading away some of the deep bench rotation and not having JJ Redick with the team quite yet, but we had an early Josh Green sighting in this game and he played… not bad!

He checked into the game in the second quarter and played well on defense with the kind of energy you expect from young guys trying to carve out some rotation minutes. He saved a rebound from going out of bounds, nearly grabbed a steal and was generally a pest. His and-1 bucket was a nice little cherry on top of his 6 minute outing.

He reappeared late in the fourth when the game was well out of hand and managed another garbage time and-1, so that’s +1 skill point for finishing through contact.

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.