Oh, boy. What most people thought to be a turnaround game for Dallas after losing five straight turned into the complete opposite, as the Knicks strutted into the AAC and smacked the Mavericks up and down the floor in the second half.
Up 59-56 at halftime, the Mavericks had to feel good going into the third quarter. Well, the Knicks sure as hell felt better. The fans in the arena became lifeless as the Knicks began to do whatever they wanted on the offensive end.
“We have to be more consistent offensively and defensively, but it starts with our defense,” Carlisle said about the team’s defense. “I’m so much more focused on defense that questions about our offense are very insignificant.” A truly embarrassing loss with many things coming into question.
Slow starts are the Mavericks’ kryptonite
You can say with only the Hawks game being the exception, the Mavericks have gotten off to slow starts in just about every game this season. Coming out of the gate and just handing the opposing team a guaranteed 30-plus points to start the first half can’t be a trend that continues in Dallas, especially against this Knicks team. “Come on, man, we’ve been giving up in the 30’s in I don’t know how many games,” DeAndre Jordan said postgame. Though the Mavs have individual players who are deemed as good defenders, it hasn’t come full circle for this team. Alonzo Trier, who went undrafted, lit up the Mavs off the bench with 23 points, including 14 by the fourth quarter. For the Mavericks to end their consecutive lottery appearances and more important end their playoff drought, this team must learn to defend as a TEAM.
DeAndre for instance, he’s known for shot blocking and altering opposing shots but his rotations on pick-and-rolls and overall help defense in the lane has been lackluster. If he can’t be the anchor that we all assumed he’d be, then Dallas, we have a problem. “I feel a lot of responsibility, man. It’s something I try to hang my hat on and something I focus on. We gotta figure it out.”
Protect the basketball
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. The Mavericks committed 19 turnovers tonight, which helped lead to their demise. With new pieces to the lineup, it’s a given that it will take time to build chemistry, but some of these turnovers were self-inflicted. On several occasions, a miscommunication between Dennis/Luka with DeAndre on the pick-and-roll lead to arrant, forced passes and overthrown touch passes. The overall chemistry will come in due time but low IQ, rushed basketball plays that turn into points for the opponent will only string on this process even further.
More minutes for Doe-Doe
It’s time. Behind his defensive play and improved jumpshot (as we’ve continued to preach), Finney-Smith has earned the right for more minutes. Tonight, he finished with 19 points on 8-10 shooting and seven rebounds. While starting for Barnes to begin the season, DFS held his own on both ends of the floor. Mavs Twitter has called for Wes Matthews’ head for his high number of shot attempts and decrease in defensive efficiency early this season. Now, not that they’re right in doing so (or necessarily wrong in doing so), but Dorian has earned the right for more playing time.
Dorian knows who he is as a basketball player and never forces the issue. He is showing flashes of becoming a very solid three-and-D guy in this league, who is also an underrated playmaker. And with the team’s overall struggle on defense, that brings more reason for DFS to be on the floor, as he has looked to be a more efficient defender than Wes so far this season.
Ease up on the Dennis criticism
With all the negativity prior, lets finish with some optimism. Nine games. That’s how many games the Mavs have played so far this season. That’s also how many regular season games tha Dennis and Luka have played together. For two players who are accustomed to having the ball, of course there will be some growing pains on how the two young stars will coexist. Luka has looked the more comfortable so far, as he’s the better and more pure shooter of the two. Dennis is used to dominating the ball his whole life from high school to his year at NC State.
Tonight, Dennis scored the ball well with 23 points on 8-14 shooting yet he dished with no assists, which is an issue for the offense, while Luka finished with 18 points, nine rebounds, and six assists. It still remains a small sample size so be a little more patient with Luka and Dennis’ chemistry as a whole.
The only positive from tonight? The Mavs have three days to work out the kinks and get ready for the also slumping Washington Wizards, who are 1-7, on Wednesday at the AAC.
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