The Dallas Mavericks lost to the Phoenix Suns 109-101, at the Americans Airlines Center in Dallas Thursday night. Luka Doncic led the Mavericks with 28 points, while Devin Booker put up 28 points as well to lead the Suns.
The Mavericks stifled the Suns in the first half, holding them to 45 points. Phoenix couldn’t get any easy shots up. The Mavericks didn’t exactly light it up themselves, but Luka had a bit of magic up his sleeve to finish the first half:
Unfortunately, the turnovers started piling up in the second half, and the Sun’s 3-pointers started falling. After only hitting two shots from behind the arc in the first half, the Suns hit six in the second. But it was mostly the Mavericks being sloppy with the ball that doomed them, and eventually the Suns pulled away, closing the game on a 22-6 run.
The past has never been altered. The Mavericks have lost to the Suns. The Mavericks have always lost to the Suns. Here are three things from the game:
Luka is back to his old self, but ran out of gas at the end
The last two games have seen Luka look like the player who lit the league on fire the last two years. He’s scored 69 points in the last two games, and nearly had triple-doubles in both. He’s getting into the paint more, and his 3-point shot looks like it’s finally starting to fall. Unfortunately, the Mavericks’ rough schedule finally caught up with him, and he just couldn’t summon enough magic in the end to help the Mavericks pull out the win.
Dallas shouldn’t be reliant on Luka to singlehandedly save them all the time. But on the second night of a back-to-back, with the role players definitely feeling some fatigue (Dorian Finney-Smith and Maxi Kleber combined for 14 points on 2-of-12 shooting from deep), that’s usually when you lean on your superstar to win games on their own. Luka, unfortunately, is called on to do that too often. Speaking of which...
Kristaps Porzingis no-showed in the second half
Porzingis scored 18 points, but only put up seven in the second half. Again, on the fifth game in seven nights, the Mavericks needed someone to put the team on their back and lead them to a win. Why not the Mavericks’ highest paid player who’s built to score a lot? But again, Porzingis had a quiet second half. It’s a recurring theme this year, where he puts up a decent number in the first half only to shrink away in the third and fourth quarter. He’s got to find his 3-point shot, and soon. There’s less than forty games left until the playoffs start. To get past the second round, the Mavericks will need Porzingis playing well for all four quarters.
It was also strange to see Porzingis off the floor for some key stretches in the fourth, as apparently his minutes restrictions coming back from COVID protocols is still in place.
Turnovers killed the Mavericks
The Mavericks have been great at taking care of the ball this season, and in the first half they played to form. But in the second half, things completely fell apart. Dallas had ten turnovers, and Phoenix had zero. It’s tough to win any games when that happens. Not to harp on it too much, but again, the schedule had to play into this.
You’re more likely to make mistakes when you’re tired, and it’s bad scheduling luck that the Mavericks ran into the best team in the NBA on the end of a tough stretch of games. Not only that, the Suns had two days off prior to this game (there’s reason to complain about the NBA seemingly always scheduling national TV matchups with one team on the second night of a back-to-back, but that’s for another place.)
There’s probably not too much to learn from this game in that regard. The Mavericks showed they can hang with the Suns, but also made the same type of mistakes they usually make when they lose, regardless of how much rest they’ve had. In the end, they’re in the same place they were before this game — looking up at the Suns, in the standings and as playoff contenders.
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.