The Dallas Mavericks fell to the Indians Pacers at home Tuesday night 124-122, another in a string of losses full of frustration and disappointment. With the loss the 32-31 Mavericks slip down the standings into a Western Conference play-in spot.
The Mavericks led early in the game, but gave up a mountain of points in the second quarter, forcing them to play catch up for middle part of the game. The team had several surges, even taking the lead a few times in the second half. But stagnant play in the clutch, after making a mid-fourth quarter push, left the Mavericks wanting at the final buzzer.
Here are a few numbers to know from the game:
75: Pacers points in the second and third quarter
The Mavericks led 33-31 after the first quarter thanks to 18 points from Luka Doncic in the opening frame. But the Pacers roared back in the second quarter, dropping 38 points. They followed that up with 37 points after the break.
Dallas fell behind for a stretch during that time, eventually making up ground in the third. But boy do the Mavericks make it hard on themselves, putting pressure on the offense to score every time down or risk falling behind by 15-plus points.
24: Maxi Kleber minutes
The Mavericks big man has been out since early December recovering from a leg injury, and tonight made his return. Kidd said before the game that Kleber would be on an undisclosed minutes restriction, so it was surprising to see him log the time he did.
There was some rust to be knocked off, though he did have a nice early slam:
MAD-MAXI ☎️— Bally Sports Southwest (@BallySportsSW) March 1, 2023
WHAT a return for #42! #MFFL | @dallasmavs on @BallySportsSW pic.twitter.com/hn1juVVzxb
Kleber notched nine points, two assists, and one block in his time (a plus-9 while on the floor). He played the closing stretch of the game, and it’s clear how much the team missed him and how heavily Kidd will rely on him going forward.
2:30: The last Dallas Mavericks field goal
The Mavericks were down 119-108 with 6:46 left in the game. Reggie Bullock hit a three pointer to cut the Pacers lead to one, making it 121-120 with 2:30 remaining. The Mavericks had two points the rest of the game, a set of free throws from Luka Doncic with 11 seconds left.
The team was 0-of-6 from the field, with five of the six attempts coming from the three point line. For only eight of the seconds in that final 2:30 were the Mavericks down by three or more points. Some of the shots were quality open looks, but others were the result of chaotic passing around the perimeter or settling for looks late in the shot clock. Both Doncic and Kyrie Irving seemed to play hot potato with the ball on multiple clutch possessions — perhaps the product of chemistry growing pains once again.
The Mavericks have struggled this season with clutch game execution, and poor play calling out of timeouts at the end of games. The competition will only get tighter as the season reaches its end and this team needs to find something to rely on when it matters most.
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