The Dallas Mavericks fell to the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday afternoon by a score of 110-104. Luka Doncic led the way for Dallas with 40 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists. Gordon Hayward scored 22 points for Charlotte in a balanced effort.
Dallas started the game looking annoyed that they had to play a basketball game in the early afternoon. They were lazy, careless, and generally lethargic. The Hornets very quickly got out to a double-digit lead. The Mavericks, in full Cancun mode, couldn’t muster up enough pride to fight back and ended the first quarter down 30-16.
The Kyrie-led bench unit cut the lead to six in the second quarter after a brief period of play that was slightly above mediocre. But an 11-0 Hornets run saw them re-establish control and take their biggest lead of the game, much to the indifference of the Dallas Mavericks. Hilariously, Dallas then responded with a 13-0 run, as Luka Doncic finally woke up and went supernova. Doncic drained four threes during the run and scored 16 points in the second quarter, finally looking engaged with the game. This helped Dallas drag this thing within striking distance, entering halftime down 55-48.
The Hornets desperately tried to give the Dallas the game in the third quarter and the Mavericks patently refused to take it, as the teams mostly just traded baskets and turnovers for much of the period. Doncic also picked up his 16th technical foul of the season in the frame, triggering an automatic suspension for tomorrow night’s game against Indiana. Despite Charlotte’s best efforts to engage the tank, they actually added to their lead in the third and entered the final quarter up 81-72.
Dallas, aided by the Hornets’ mega-tank, was finally able to take the lead in the fourth; a Luka Doncic three put them up 92-90 with about six minutes to play. Gordon Hayward quickly answered with an and-one and an open three pointer. The two teams went back and forth for a bit, but it was clear that Dallas just wanted it less today. The Hornets pulled away late, capped off by an emphatic, backdoor alley-oop dunk from Dennis Smith Jr. The Mavericks lost the game. The season is over. Here are three observations.
No one helped Luka Doncic
Doncic started the game extremely out of sorts. He missed seven out of his first eight shots and generally looked uninterested in playing basketball. But something clicked for him in the second quarter and he played pretty inspired basketball for the rest of the way. Unfortunately, no one else on the team matched that effort. Kyrie Irving shot 5-of-15, and other than a decent shooting game from Maxi Kleber, no one else was contributing offensively. On the other end of the floor, the Mavericks predictably couldn’t guard a folding chair. It was tough to watch.
Dallas is allergic to rebounds
The Mavericks lost the rebounding battle by 21. This shouldn’t even be possible. It’s not like the Hornets possess a bunch of monsters on the glass. 6’7 PJ Washington bullied them for 12 boards and rookie Mark Williams grabbed 16 of his own. The Mavericks are obviously the worst rebounding team in the league but today they weren’t even trying. A complete embarrassment on the glass this afternoon.
Fire up the tank
At this juncture, with things the way they are, the focus for Dallas must shift toward securing a top-10 pick in a loaded draft and avoid conveying their first rounder to the Knicks. As of this moment, the Mavericks have the 11th best lottery odds. They’re gonna need to pump those numbers up. Doncic being forced to sit tomorrow night should help with that. In a miserable season from hell, Maverick fans deserve to get excited about potentially drafting a young impact player.
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