Dallas loses and Luca gets injured. Great.
By Kirk Henderson
on March 8, 2023 9:20 p.m
The Dallas Mavericks (34-33) fell 113-106 to the New Orleans Pelicans (32-34) on Wednesday night. CJ McCollum scored 32 points to lead New Orleans while Kyrie Irving was the game’s top scorer for Dallas with 27 points.
On the second night of a back-to-back game in a key class, the Mavericks came out early and looked good. Having Luka Doncic play in both games (a rarity this season) was a sign of how seriously the Mavericks took the game. However, after an early lead, the offense went cold. Doncic picked up his 15th technician of the season in the quarter. The teams ended the first quarter tied with 24 pieces.
In the next frame, the Mavericks quickly went sideways. Dallas only scored eight points in the first half of the quarter and failed to stop the Pelicans. Though New Orleans stayed in the single digits for a good portion of the period, the Pelicans went on offense late and went into halftime with a 59-43 lead.
Things got even uglier for Dallas in the third quarter. Although they found a way to reduce the lead to eight points, they couldn’t find the defense to go further. Doncic left the game with about three minutes left due to a thigh strain and it seemed like the game could be over. New Orleans went into the final frame 83-65.
And yet the Mavericks weren’t done yet. A flurry of goals in the fourth, including contributions from Jaden Hardy, Davis Bertans and Christian Wood, resulted in the Mavericks cutting the lead to three points with four minutes remaining. However, CJ McCollum had something to say about it, scoring 13 points in the last four minutes and finally crushing Dallas. The Mavericks fell 113-106.
Now some thoughts:
Mavericks, Sowing: Heck Yeah! Yes!
Mavericks, Harvesting: Well, that sucks! What the hell!
Now that the Mavericks are just one game over .500 and have many more games on the way before the end of the season, I bet Dallas is reflecting on some of the many games they gave away. There’s a whole list that could crack double digits if you really get into the weeds. Prior to the trade for Kyrie Irving, Dallas played a bewildering basketball game with errors that could be blamed on the players, the coaches and even the front office for putting together the lackluster roster.
Now that they have a new star but less depth, their margin of error is even smaller.
Playing Luka Doncic wasn’t smart
That’s easy to say now. I don’t take it as criticism, but as a statement of fact, long after the fact. It’s frustrating because Dallas probably felt like they had to play him because that would have been an important win for tiebreakers and playoff seedlings down the line, and to go along with my point made above, Dallas has a lot this season Games given away, including more than a few where Doncic sat purely for reasons of rest. The Mavericks weren’t good enough for Doncic to rest some of his games. He probably needed it tonight, his hamstring injury was something they talked about after the game.
Instead, he left the game with an injury and they might have made a bad situation worse, both in terms of his injury and the team’s near future in the standings.
What do we do with these rotations?
Coaching is tough, but playing Frank Ntilikina and Theo Pinson before they came to the rotation in the fourth rotation, which nearly dragged them back in (Kyrie Irving, Jaden Hardy, Davis Bertans, Christian Wood and Tim Hardaway Jr.) is an active one bad decision . Frank can’t score. Theo is a good podcaster. Though I know Jason Kidd isn’t going anywhere…Kidd needs to do a better job with obvious things. Dallas cannot afford these mistakes and losses.