There was plenty of hype for a November 8th matchup between the Mavericks and the 1-7 New York Knicks entering Friday night. Kristaps Porzingis would be playing against his former team that traded him to Dallas just over nine months ago. Another part of that deal, Dennis Smith Jr., was returning to the American Airlines Center for the first time since the deal (even if he wouldn’t be in uniform). Luka Doncic’s torrid start to the season had the Mavs entering the night with a 5-2 record. All of that excitement turned to anger and disappointment for the Mavericks and their fans.
The lowly Knicks came into the American Airlines Center and beat the Mavericks 106-102 on Friday night. Yuck.
While it was great that Doncic and Porzingis combined for 66 points (a career high 38 for Doncic) on an efficient 24/48 shooting, there are really only three negatives to take away from this unacceptable loss.
Where’s the help?
After the 66 points from the Luka/KP duo, the other nine Mavs who played tonight combined for just 36 points on 13/42 shooting overall from the field. Those look even worse when you consider Tim Hardaway Jr. was the third leading scorer for Dallas with 14 of those 36 points on 5/15 shooting. There just was not a lot happening for the supporting Mavs tonight.
Notably, Seth Curry played just 13 minutes and attempted ZERO shots after going 1/2 from the field in seven minutes on the court during Wednesday’s game. Not much happening for the first outside free agent deal you struck in free agency this summer. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle shared what he thought about Curry’s role within the offense with the media after the game.
“Sure, I’d love to get him more shots. I look at those kinds of things all the time, but other teams know he’s a great shooter and they stay pretty close to him.”
Even if defenders are playing him closely, Curry has shown that he can create off the dribble and he doesn’t need to just be a wide open spot-up shooter for this team. With just 20 minutes combined over the last two games, it’s hard not to wonder if something bigger might be at play here for a guy the team seemed to have really high expectations for heading into the season.
Amazing stats for your stars don’t always equal wins
While Luka’s triple double stat line of a career high 38 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists is insane, his play in the fourth quarter tonight was nothing short of disappointing. The Mavericks offense stalled for incredibly long stretches in the final frame WITH Doncic on the floor. From the 8:47 mark of the fourth quarter (a Tim Hardaway Jr. layup) through the 1:00 mark (a Tim Hardaway Jr. three pointer), the Mavericks made just one field goal attempt on their way to eventually being down 101-92 with just 1:48 left in the game.
Then somehow — missed free throws by the Knicks — the Mavericks worked their way into an opportunity to tie the game with a possession starting with about 24 seconds left. Doncic grabbed a rebound off a missed free throw by Taj Gibson and then dribbles the ball up the middle of the court before deciding to pull up from about halfway between the edge of the Mavs center court logo and the top of the three point arc for a tough three point attempt. When you check the play-by-play logs on various sites, it almost sounds made up because it reads like this:
“Luka Doncic misses 34-foot step back jumpshot.”
It looked as bad as it sounds and Luka definitely knew it.
Luka Doncic wasn’t happy with his career-high 38 points and a triple-double. He blamed himself for loss because he took a stepback from halfcourt logo when Mavs had a chance to tie late. “I made a bad decision. That wasn’t the shot I was looking for. I let my team down again.” pic.twitter.com/O45Hc5Cc2W
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) November 9, 2019
Meanwhile, Kristaps Porzingis had a great bounceback performance after a game on Wednesday that led to him opening up to the local media for a seemingly unprecedented ten minute postgame scrum. In a team-high 36 minutes, KP scored 28 points on very efficient shooting (11/22 from the field overall and 4/8 from deep) in addition to 5 blocked shots.
Porzingis was able to score in a variety of ways besides just squaring up 25 feet from the basket. Attempts to dribble drive that would bounce off his leg on previous nights were successful on Friday along with a few different attempts at nice bank shots while trying to post up his defender. While he ultimately fouled out in the waning seconds of the game, tonight was an important step for Porzingis following the narrative that has surrounded him this week.
Knicks shoot lights out
David Fizdale’s Knicks were on fire from the outside on Friday night. New York shot just 41% overall from the field, but were a scathing 50% on three point shot attempts with Marcus Morris Sr. (?) and Frank Ntilikina both making four three’s on the night.
New York shot 16 less three pointers than Dallas (28 vs 44) and a good amount of them seemed to come with plenty of space for the shooters to operate.
The Knicks have now won their lone trip to Dallas in three consecutive seasons.
The Mavericks will look to rebound in Memphis on Saturday night as they face another team in the Grizzlies (2-6) that has struggled out of the gates. It is Dallas’ first back-to-back of the season and it will be worth monitoring Saturday morning/early afternoon if Porzighis is expected to play. After logging 37 minutes tonight, I wouldn’t think an appearance from KP would be too likely.
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