The Mavericks opened the game with a Grant Williams sighting with the beleaguered forward connecting on two threes and a floater. Luka Doncic found Dereck Lively twice early for rim-rocking dunks and Dallas found themselves with a solid 17-9 lead around the seven-minute mark. But between free throws and three straight Derrick Jones Jr. turnovers, the Suns managed to pull back within two in minutes. Following a Suns timeout, the two teams traded multiple three-pointers. Solid Josh Green defense and shooting in the final minutes helped give Dallas a 34-25 lead after one period.
A couple of more threes from Dallas to open the second pushed the Maverick lead into double figures early in the second quarter. The Dallas defense was nothing short of inspired, which is possibly a byproduct of not missing any threes. Jason Kidd issued what Mike Breen called “the perfect challenge” on a Jusif Nurkic flop, resulting in a Doncic free throw (that he, of course, missed) near the seven-minute mark. The Suns wouldn’t fold though, cutting the lead to nine following a Josh Okogie layup and free throw. Doncic fell in love with his shot, taking multiple bad threes which he missed and the Suns climbed back within single digits. Doncic then stopped heaving and had two terrible turnovers in a row and the Suns were within one point. Dallas took that slight lead into halftime, up 58-57.
Because the Mavericks aren’t a serious team, they allowed an 8-0 run to start the half (including the technical free throw Doncic gave the Suns following a halftime tantrum) which finally forced a Jason Kidd timeout. Things stayed spicy between the two teams, with Williams getting ejected after arguing a non-call when playing defense. Jones Jr. picked up one as well, getting a taunting tech following a dunk where he was knocked to the ground. The Suns then busted open a double-digit lead on multiple made threes. Dallas simply died in one of the most embarrassing quarters of the season. Dallas found themselves down 100-78 after three.
The three-ball is the great equalizer in the NBA though and with Devin Booker and his 38 points sitting, the Mavericks worked what was at one point a 28-point lead down to 16, forcing a Suns timeout three minutes into the fourth. Dallas couldn’t keep the momentum alive though, and the Mavericks simply didn’t have enough defense or offense to get back in the game. The Suns buried the Mavericks, 132-109. It’s one of the worst losses of the season and the vibes are awful.
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Something’s rotten right now with these Dallas Mavericks
In the big picture sense, the Mavericks have a lot of built-in excuses. They’ve had a lot of injuries and games missed to key players. That lack of continuity is a big challenge, there’s no doubt about it.
And yet, once the ball is rolled out on the floor, a team has to play with who they have available. These last three losses have been the kind of bad that makes a fan (and, potentially a team) question what in the hell we’re even doing here. Depending on what personal bias you bring to the table, you likely have a complaint to bring to the table about this loss and why it happened.
If you’re a Luka Doncic hater, you have to ask yourself why on Earth he kept forcing the issue to end the first half, being personally responsible for a tough run from the Suns due to his bad shot selection then bad decision-making on passes, topping everything off with a ridiculous technical foul where, and this is important, whatever he was whining about was not worth getting a technical over. Later in the game, he had a Suns fan ejected, one who’d been taunting him the whole contest, but the last straw was a barb about needing to get on the treadmill. I find myself feeling ashamed for Luka for that call.
If you’re tired of head coach Jason Kidd, you’re openly questioning what he does. During the aforementioned first-quarter run, he didn’t call a timeout, wandering around with his hands in his pockets. In the third quarter, when the run continued and Grant Williams picked up his second tech resulting in an ejection and Jones Jr. got a tech after getting knocked down following a dunk, did he stand up for his players? Did he show any emotion? Did he lead? Or did he look like an employee with a punch card, just looking to be done for work with the day?
If you’re tired of Grant Williams, like I am, you’re probably wondering what he was supposed to bring to this team at all. He finally had a decent offensive performance, then got a stupid tech for stepping over and disrespecting Kevin Durant. Next picked up his third foul four minutes into the second quarter, hurting the Dallas offense to which he had finally had a positive contribution. Lastly, he got kicked out arguing a non-call after an attempted charge. But keep posting memes on social media buddy, that will help. Instead of, you know, just playing better. Stop trying to be the tough-guy instigator, it’s clown fraud behavior.
Of course, these are just three examples from within one game. There’s so much more and I need to finish this article up already. I’ve held the line that being above .500 like the Mavericks are is a good thing because tough times were coming. But, frankly, I’m sick of feeling like I’m wasting my time watching a team that behaves as if basketball is a chore and not a joy. It’s basketball. It’s a game. It should be fun.
Dallas had that joy for most of the first half, but hot shooting is not a sustainable path to success. All of these players, all of the coaches, heck even the front office and the team governor, need to look themselves in the mirror and ask what they’re even doing this for. And if the answer doesn’t have something to do with showing pride and playing hard, meaningful basketball night in and night out, then maybe it’s time to find another line of work.
I’ve rambled for years that expectations are the thief of joy because it’s true. But I want better. I demand better from this team. It’s gut-check time for these Mavericks. I hope with all of my heart that they respond.
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