The Dallas Mavericks lost 101-92 to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday evening. The Mavericks were without all everything superstar Luka Doncic as Doncic was resting after the Mavericks played a game which was much closer than it needed to be against the Los Angeles Clippers the night before. Without their leader, and with their remaining players also nursing tired legs, the Mavericks played perhaps their worst game of the season.
Spencer Dinwiddie played 41 minutes against the Clippers, and it was obvious he did not have his legs. Facu Campazzo got his first extended run of the season and provided a spark of energy early. His ball movement jumpstarted a Mavericks offense that was stuck in mud. Unfortunately, the Rockets realized who he was and simply stopped guarding him. This resulted in Campazzo having to take some important jumpers late in the third quarter. They were not close to going in. Campazzo embodied the common NBA phrase “open for a reason” late in this game.
Reggie Bullock was coming off of his best game of the season against the Clippers. He played arguably his worst tonight as he was scoreless on six shots in 32 minutes of action. The Mavericks took 102 shots but made only 31. This was a terrible loss, there’s simply no way around that.
Here are the things we learned.
Doncic’s ball dominance is warranted
There is an ongoing chicken or the egg debate regarding whether the other Mavericks are limited because of how much Doncic has the ball, or if he has the ball so much because they are limited. It should be clear after watching this game that he has the ball because they are limited. With him not available the Mavericks simply could not create credible NBA offense which resulted in the stunning 19 blocks the Rockets managed.
Reggie Bullock is going through more than his annual early slump
Bullock struggles early in the season. That is a fact of life, but it has never been this bad. There was reason to hope that he had turned a corner after his fourth quarter against the Clippers, but it is apparent that that hope was overstated. Bullock had another scoreless game and even his vaunted defense has regressed. The Mavericks need him to find his game. They need him to find it now as they simply don’t have other options.
Christian Wood and Tim Hardaway Jr. tried
With Doncic out and Dinwiddie struggling, the Mavericks desperately needed someone to create offense. Wood and Hardaway did their best. They were inefficient, as everyone on the Mavericks were, but they combined for 54 points off the bench. The Mavericks bench has been better than the starters so far this season and tonight that was even more pronounced.
Josh Green is not ready to consistently contribute
Green played a fantastic game by his standards against the Brooklyn Nets. He has returned to the Green of old since then. In a game where everyone was so limited, the Mavericks desperately needed Green to create some offense. The Rockets appear tailor made for him as their penchant for turnovers leads them to give up the most fast break points in the league. However, Green was unable to take advantage scoring only four points, all from the free throw line.
Overall, this loss is disheartening, but the sky is not falling. Doncic will be back. Doncic carries an enormous weight, but most nights he will be there to carry it. Nights like this remind us all just how important he is.
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