We’ve seen this team before. The Dallas Mavericks who took the floor Wednesday night were a resurrected version of the bricklaying squads that became a staple of the opening months of the season. A zombie Mavericks if you will.
Lifeless shooting against the New York Knicks led to one of the most lopsided outcomes of the season. The Mavs fell, 107-77. Dallas’ complete inability to make shots returning from the dead begs the question: was this game an outlier or is it an omen of things to come?
“I think just our energy–we didn’t have any fight there to start,” head coach Jason Kidd said. “But shooting wasn’t very good. We talked about it before the game. We have some guys shooting the ball extremely well–you can’t have them all go cold at once and everybody did go cold. It happens.”
Dallas shot an abysmal 31.4 percent overall for the night. The team was even worse from behind the arc. The Mavs recorded a season-low 13.6 percent–making just six of their 44 attempts–on three-pointers. The 77 points the Mavericks scored Wednesday was their lowest point total since a 106-75 blowout loss to the Denver Nuggets on October 29, 2021.
“You can see what we shot,” Luka Doncic said about the missed shots being the reason the Mavericks lost. “I think there’s no question about it.”
It wasn’t just one or two players that couldn’t hit shots, the poor shooting was endemic. Yet, the trio of Reggie Bullock, Maxi Kleber, and Davis Bertans had particularly bad nights. They combined to play over 68 minutes and went 0-21 from the floor.
“They were wide-open,” Kidd said of the missed shots. “That’s basketball; you make some, you miss some. We missed a lot of them tonight, unfortunately. You shoot 13%, we shot 44 3s, only made six of them. A lot of those were wide-open shots.”
Much of the talk surrounding the early season shooting struggles also centered on the team’s inability to hit open shots. NBA tracking data showed that the Mavericks were getting “open” shots, but advanced metrics stipulated that Dallas was not taking quality shots.
That may have been the case again against New York. Yet, for as bad as the game was for Dallas, it doesn’t feel like the team is unraveling. Not yet at least. The Mavericks have been playing well and winning games. The Knicks just have their number.
“We won five in a row, and we had one bad game, that’s it,” Doncic said. “So, we move on.”
The ability to move on and not dwell on losses is something the Mavericks have done well this season. They haven’t lost two games in a row since February 2. Even though the frightful shooting that plagued the team early in the season rose from the grave Wednesday, the team is looking forward.
“I don’t know, sometimes you’re going to lose a game and tonight was the night, but we had a great homestand,” Kidd said. “Now, we go out on the road for five. Our goal is to come back above .500. A lot of good things on this homestand. You can’t let one game ruin that–and we’re not. It’s over. We’ll have dinner, relax and get ready to go back to work tomorrow.”