The Dallas Mavericks fell to the New York Knicks 107-77 Wednesday night in Dallas. Yes, technically two teams were involved, but you’d be forgiven if you thought the Knicks were just running through a practice tonight.
The game started out miserably for the Mavericks and didn’t get much better going forward. Dallas forgot two of the most important things about basketball—how to play defense and putting the ball in the basket. The Mavericks couldn’t score at all and showed no interest in stopping the Knicks at all. New York raced to a 31-17 lead to close the quarter.
The Mavericks continued to struggle in the second quarter, and didn’t hit their first 3-pointer until less than a minute left in the half. They went 1-21 from deep in the first half. At halftime, the Knicks led 61-34.
Dallas made a run in the third quarter, and even cut the Knicks’ lead to 14 at one point. They stepped up their defense, but just couldn’t string together good possessions to overcome New York.
Here are three things from the game:
The October version of the Mavericks made an appearance
Luka Doncic scored 31 points and grabbed six rebounds. Unfortunately, he was the only one on the Mavericks who decided to show up. The rest of the starters combined for 25 points. It’s something we saw early in the season, but since early February had become rare.
Role players are role players because they’re inconsistent. If you can put up 16-20 points per game for a whole season, you’re a star. However, you don’t usually see every role player on a team collectively disappear like a mist on an early spring morning. And to be fair, the Mavericks haven’t had this kind of showing lately. But it’s a sign the Mavericks still have a talent disparity problem.
Spencer Dinwiddie did chip in 13 points from the bench, and going 2-4 from behind the arc, was the only Dallas player who shot well. The rest of the non-Luka rotation went 1-26 on 3-pointers. This excludes garbage time and Dinwiddie. Even Luka shot poorly, going 3-11 from deep.
A few times early in the season, Jason Kidd mentioned the Mavericks “hanging their heads” after missing shots and letting it affect their defense. That definitely happened tonight.
The Knicks were just more physical than the Mavericks
The Mavericks looked like they were on the second night of a back-to-back, despite having the previous day off. The Knicks were faster to every loose ball. They outrebounded the Mavericks 55-37. They shot 33 free throws, compared to the Mavericks 25. On defense, they forced contact and just generally made the Mavericks feel uncomfortable all game long.
Dallas is much better than New York, but tonight the Knicks were just more interested in playing basketball. All of that sports movie inspirational stuff is usually just Hollywood fantasy. But sometimes it’s the case. The Knicks aggressive and energetic, and the Mavericks looked like they were just going through the motions except for a short stretch in the third quarter. It’s a long season. Sometimes that happens.
Reggie Bullock is slumping again
Bullock finished the game 0-8 from deep. He’s shooting 24% on 3-pointers for the month of March, which is admittedly a small sample size. The Mavericks can’t afford for him to lose his 3-point shot going into the playoffs. When they traded Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavericks committed to a small ball approach to games, and Bullock factors heavily into that lineup. If he shoots like he did early in the season, he won’t be unplayable because of his defense. But in the playoffs the Mavericks will be playing 4-on-5 on offense, because he’ll be completely ignored on that end of the floor. That will go poorly for Dallas.
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.