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Stats Rundown: 4 numbers to know from a nauseating 113-110 Mavericks loss to the Cavaliers

This one was shades of 2022-23. Absolutely disgusting.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Dallas Mavericks
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Caris LeVert (3) controls the ball as Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) defends during the second half at American Airlines Center.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks (18-13) pulled defeat from the jaws of victory Wednesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers (18-13) at the American Airlines Center in one of the most disgusting losses of the 2023-24 season so far.

The Cavs will get out of Dallas like they stole something, because they did, while the Mavs will lick their wounds after the 113-110 loss where Dallas more resembled last season’s form than the team had won seven of its last 11 games.

The Cavs, who came in winners of four out of their last five on the strength of role players who have stepped up in Donovan Mitchell’s absence, outscored the Mavericks 51-30 from the 3-point line Wednesday. Cleveland came in with a plan to stay at home against the Mavericks shooters, and it worked for long stretches at a time while the Cavaliers worked their way back from an early 20-point deficit.

Forward Isaac Okoro had a season-high 22 points in the win for the Cavs, as did center Jarret Allen, who scored 24 and pulled down a ridiculous 23 rebounds. But it was backup guard Caris LeVert who found ways to score all over floor against a Dallas defense for which incompetence has become the norm.

LeVert finished with a team-high 29 points on 6-of-11 shooting from 3-point territory and seven assists in the win. His 29 points were two shy of LeVert’s season-high point total of 31, which came on Oct. 28 against Golden State.

Luka Dončić led all scorers with 39 points, seven rebounds and six assists, but shot just 3-of-10 from distance in the loss.

5:01: Dallas’ fourth-quarter scoreless stretch

The Mavs found themselves in the freezer from the 6:06 mark of the fourth quarter until Dončić hit a floating bank shot with 1:05 left to play. They went 0-for-11 from the field and committed two key turnovers in that span.

The Cavs’ 15-0 run in that time turned what was a 105-96 Mavs lead into a 111-107 deficit. And it’s not like coach Jason Kidd sat on his hands on the bench while it was all happening, either. He called two timeouts in that five-minute stretch — the Mavs just seemed to have no answer for the Law Firm of Allen, Okoro and LeVert. Sheesh.

Cleveland outscored Dallas 31-20 in the fourth quarter.

“We’ve got to close games out,” guard Dante Exum said after the game. “They got too many shots in the lane, and we didn’t do a good enough job of limiting their offensive rebounds.”

18: Cleveland offensive rebounds

Thanks for the segue, Dante.

The Cavs whipped the Mavericks’ collective ass, 18-7, on the offensive glass. The Cavs got four or more shots up in a single possession three times in this game. Cleveland was relentless on the boards, while Dallas was listless.

Dereck Lively II in particular had a rough night inside, finishing with just four points and four rebounds after getting into foul trouble early and getting dominated by Allen the rest of the night. The Cavs out-rebounded the Mavericks 57-37 overall.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks
Dallas Mavericks guard Seth Curry (30) drives to the basket as Cleveland Cavaliers guard Max Strus (1) defends during the second half at American Airlines Center.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

14: Consecutive missed Dallas 3-pointers

In a separate cold snap spanning most of the second and third quarters, the Mavericks missed 14 consecutive 3-pointers as Cleveland whittled what was a 20-point lead early in the second quarter down to a more manageable 90-82 Mavs lead headed into the fourth.

The Mavs started the game 6-of-13 from deep before missing their next 14, then nailed three of their next four late in the third and early in the fourth. When you live and die by the 3-pointer like the Mavericks do, you leave yourself open to weird stretches like that. Wednesday night was the extreme end of those weird stretches.

LeVert’s third 3-ball of the game late in the third brought Cleveland all the way from down 20 midway through the second to within four, down 76-72.

Seth Curry hit the drought-busting corner 3-pointer for the Mavs with 2:30 left in the third to give Dallas an 83-74 cushion, then hit another on the following possession to give the struggling offense a little bit of breathing room. His first 3-pointer of the third gave Curry 16 points, breaking his season-high point total of 15, which he set in the Mavericks’ 130-117 win at Washington on Nov. 15.

Curry finished with 19 points Wednesday on 5-of-9 shooting from 3-point land and was the only Maverick who shot it well in the loss. The rest of the roster went 5-of-28 from beyond the arc.

20: First-quarter points from Dončić

Dončić was still in his Christmas Day bag to start the game Monday, but he attacked the Cleveland defense with an aggression going to the hoop that he didn’t feature as much against the Suns. Doncic scored 20 first-quarter points, with 10 coming in the paint, as he took advantage of the angles and shape of the Cavs’ defense on drive after drive.

It was a big reason the Mavs led the Cavs 32-22 in points in the paint at halftime and 52-46 on the night. Getting buckets at the rim was increasingly key for Dallas in the second quarter, when the team went 2-for-10 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Dončić was 8-of-13 from the field in the first quarter then went 6-of-16 in the final three quarters.

“We had really good looks,” Kidd said in his postgame presser. “Luka had looks. Curry had looks. Everyone had looks — they just didn’t go down for us, and you look at our defense — we talked about it before the game — you gotta rebound the ball. ... Give [Cleveland] credit. They were the better team.”

Don’t look now, but Dallas is now 10-11 since the team’s 8-2 start. The Mavs reverted to the worst versions of themselves against Cleveland in a loss that will leave fans feeling sick to their stomachs.