The Dallas Mavericks were annihilated on the road against the New Orleans Pelicans, 131-110. Brandon Ingram finished with a team-high 25 points, leading a balanced effort. Kyrie Irving and Tim Hardaway scored 17 each in defeat for Dallas.
Dallas jumped out to an early lead, picking up right where they left off Sunday night. Unfortunately, the turnover bug bit the Mavericks (Herb Jones joining the starting group for New Orleans played a major part in that) and the Pelicans roared back in front. Luka Doncic played perhaps the worst quarter of his NBA career, shooting 1 for 6 and turning the ball over six times. His mistakes resulted in numerous fast break points for the Pelicans and New Orleans would take a 33-26 lead into the second quarter.
The Mavericks briefly woke up to close the gap to three before the Pelicans slowly but surely ground the Mavericks into dust. Luka Doncic’s awful game continued; while he stopped with the terrible turnovers, he couldn’t find the bottom of the net. New Orleans led by as many as 19 in the period. Dallas made a late run to close the lead to 10, but gave up six points in the final 30 seconds of the half to trail 70-54 at the half.
Things managed to get worse for Dallas in the third. Decent enough offense from Kyrie Irving wasn’t enough to make up for terrible defense from the rest of the
Mavericks. Things got so bleak at one point Irving and Doncic missed four straight free throws while down 25+ points. Dallas entered the last quarter down 114-85.
Head coach Jason Kidd cleared the bench to start the fourth and to be honest, I didn’t pay much attention. If the Mavericks wanted a backdoor way to get into the next round of the In-Season tournament, the point differential of this one could come into play. That said, Dallas wasn’t able to chip much into the Pelicans lead. Dallas falls on the road, 131-110.
Luka Doncic cannot play how he did tonight
I’ve rarely been this kind of frustrated with Doncic. I believe in him as a player, I believe in his talent, and I want him to lead Dallas to a championship.
But watching that game, it earnestly felt like Doncic gave up in the first quarter and the team followed suit. It was clear from the opening tip that he didn’t have it, despite starting the game with a made three. He looked and played slow. His reactions were off significantly, resulting in multiple turnovers that were tremendously bad. He had SIX turnovers in the first eight minutes. His defense, while much improved this season, was atrocious throughout. He got his third technical of the season and it’s just game 10. At one point in the third, Luka passed it to Brandon Ingram on a basic ball reversal meant to go to Kyrie.
Is he alone as the reason for the loss? Of course not. But he’s a team leader and his early, awful tone set the course for Dallas.
The city of New Orleans can take a toll on anyone, but if Luka Doncic ever wants to be the best player on the planet instead of just the top five, games like this can’t happen.