The Mavericks came out with low energy again, and the Kings raced to a 8-0 lead. But Dwight Powell threw himself around like a wrecking ball, picking up deflections and fouls, and the Mavericks were able to claw back into the game. Powell ended up shooting five free throws in the first quarter, but the Tyrese Haliburton took over for the Kings. Haliburton scored nine points on 2-2 shooting from behind the arc in the first quarter, leading the Kings to a ten point lead to open the second. It’s the third straight game the Mavericks have trailed after one against the Kings.
The Kings continued to stifle the Mavericks early in the second, eventually causing a frustrated Dallas team to lose their heads. Both Doncic and Rick Carlisle were assessed technical fouls. But this only seemed to fire up the Mavericks, and they surged back to tie the game. Despite playing better defense, they couldn’t convert a lot of easy opportunities or open shots on offense, and were only able to trim three points off the lead. It’s the third straight game they’ve trailed Sacramento at the half.
The Mavericks couldn’t get any rhythm on offense in the third quarter. The game looked like more of the same—the Kings hitting open shots, pushing in transition, and generally being more aggressive than the Mavericks. It’s obvious their length bothers Dallas.
In the fourth quarter, the Mavericks were able to chip away at the lead. Boban Marjanovic and Jalen Brunson were part of a lineup that found some success, and the Mavericks cut the lead to five off of a Trey Burke 3-pointer with four minutes left. But former Maverick Delon Wright answered right back with a couple of drives that stretched the lead to nine just a few plays later. Dallas cut the lead to six again, but a Buddy Hield 3-pointer again pushed the lead to nine, and the Mavericks never threatened to take the game again. Carlisle and Doncic were tossed with just a minute remaining.
Here are three observations from the third consecutive loss to the Kings:
Bad energy, bad attitudes
The Mavericks yet again got outhustled by a team they should beat most nights. It’s a familiar problem, and there’s been no answer or change throughout the season. The Mavericks were also frustrated all game, and instead of fighting through it, they lost their heads and turned the ball over or made silly mistakes. Doncic and Carlisle getting tossed at the end just put a cap on the whole affair. They’ve got to find a different mindset, because there are no easy games in the playoffs.
It’s pretty much impossible to win if your opponent shoots almost 40% from three and you shoot 17%. The Mavericks were 6-35 from behind the arc. Not only that, Dallas was 42% from the field all together. Just about every Maverick that saw significant time shot poorly. Tim Hardaway Jr. definitely needed a game off, but no one stepped up to replace his production. This team is built to shoot 3-pointers, and if they don’t fall, they don’t win. If they miss like tonight, it’s a disaster.
No shows by Dorian Finney-Smith and Maxi Kleber
Finney-Smith went 1-7 from the field and 0-5 from behind the arc. Kleber went 2-8 overall, and 1-7 from deep. They combined for eight points. The Mavericks aren’t going to win many games when two of their starters combine for less than ten points. Doncic is amazing, but he can’t be superhuman every night. The starters around him have to be more consistent. If they aren’t, they’ll be more losses like this one.
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.