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3 thoughts from the Mavericks heartbreaking 126-120 loss to the Thunder

Big Poppa Luka Doncic was amazing, but it wasn’t enough as the Thunder held on to beat the Mavericks

Oklahoma City Thunder v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks lost 126-120 to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night. The Thunder dominated Dallas for most of the game but most of the Mavericks went on a 30-0 run to take a lead late. Unfortunately, they had used up too much gas in the comeback to be able to hold of the Thunder and maintain the lead.

Dereck Lively began the game dominating in the paint on both ends while the Thunder sputtered early. The Thunder eventually made shots and got to the rim once Lively went to the bench resulting in them still finishing the quarter with a lead.

The Thunder trapped Doncic once he entered the front court for essentially the entire first half. The remaining depleted Mavericks were unable to punish Oklahoma City in the resulting 4-on-3 situations, as the Thunder finished the half with a very comfortable lead.

The Mavericks tried a few different defensive tactics, including throwing the same types of traps at Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but they really weren’t able to slow the Thunder. Oklahoma City shot over 60 percent from three in the first half, and it honestly didn’t feel like a fluke because of how open they were.

The Mavericks made a run to cut the lead to single digits and then Jaden Hardy happened. The Thunder closed the third quarter on a 17-3 run and that appeared to be all she wrote.

Big Poppa (as he was introduced before the game) Doncic took complete control of the game following a shooting outburst from AJ Lawson of all people. Lawson made two above-the-break threes causing the Thunder to overreact. That got the Thunder in rotation and the 30-0 run was on. We’ll have more on this run tomorrow or Monday.

The Mavericks just didn’t have enough gas as they fell apart late to lose heartbreaker. Here are the things to know from this game.

Big Poppa Doncic was sublime

Doncic has always had a dad bod. Now he is actually a dad, and the results couldn’t have been much better individually speaking. He put up 36 points, 15 rebounds and 18 assists along with two blocks and steals apiece despite receiving about the most defensive attention one player ever will in an NBA game. He had a tough travel late, but Doncic’ brilliance was the most overwhelming part of this game.

Dereck Lively II is a monster

Lively put up 20 points, 16 rebounds and six blocks on 9-of-9 shooting. Perhaps most importantly, he showed a new wrinkle which is exciting going forward. Lively has shown flashes as a short roll playmaker all season. He had several nice passes tonight that ended up in missed shots by teammates.

The new wrinkle is that on multiple occasions, he used his impressive combination of length and athleticism to simply finish over defenders. He had a monster dunk all over Chet Holmgren in the second quarter and a nice touch layup later in the game on plays that started with him outside the restricted area. This is an important and impressive skill that the Mavericks need to develop.

Derrick Jones Jr was really good

Jones had 24 points and made six of his 12 three-point-attempts. It would be impossible to ask for more from him tonight, though it is concerning that his shooting is so important to the Mavericks going forward. Yes, the presence of Kyrie Irving and Tim Hardaway Jr will help with that, but the reality is Jones might be the Mavericks best wing and they need him to shoot well because of that.

Overall, this was a strangely fun game that turned into a loss because the Mavericks simply ran out of gas.