The Mavericks entered Sunday night’s game against the Kings (8-13 coming into Sunday night) riding a five game winning streak, winners of 10 out of their last 11 games, and with plenty of confidence. Perhaps a little too much.
The Kings came out swinging and had an undeniable edge that the Mavs struggled to even come close to matching until they had dug themselves a 24 point deficit at one point in the 3rd quarter. While Dallas would stage an epic 4th quarter comeback to even have a chance to tie with just 13.4 seconds left in the game. Luka Doncic would miss a shot in the paint with a controversial no-call around contact with his shooting elbow. The final result was a 110-106 Kings win with plenty of Mavericks fans upset after the game.
No call on the deciding play of the game
Story of the night. Doncic getting fouled and refs not calling obvious fouls. He got fouled on the elbow on the key play at the end of the game too. Clearly fouled! How can you miss that?!? pic.twitter.com/g2NJnxBKAN
— Matej Sportinfo (@Sportinfosi) December 9, 2019
We’ll start with what went down during the final seconds of the game. Luka drives to the pain on Cory Joseph, who had been on his tail all night long defensively, and has his elbow lightly touched while ultimately missing the shot.
There are two ways of thinking here:
1. A foul is a foul, no matter what the time, they all need to be called.
2. The physical nature of the game is allowed to flow a bit more in the final two minutes of a close game and the refs aren’t going to blow their whistles unless there is something blatantly obvious in front of them.
Sure, you can all post screen shots of the single frame where Joseph has his hand on Doncic’s elbow, but in real time, game speed… there was understandably nothing called. It happened in the blink of an eye and Luka missed a tough shot falling away off of a spin. You get some calls and you don’t get some. It also doesn’t help whenever the player begging for a foul has done nothing but belittle the referees all season long.
Luka Doncic acknowledges that he’s often too animated with officials. “Sometimes I’ve got to calm down and just go to the next play,” he said. pic.twitter.com/t0gYoYmorM
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 9, 2019
Let’s put that plan into action, Luka.
Tim Hardaway Jr says that the Mavs can “only control what we can control” when it comes to the refs missing a late foul that would have sent Luka Doncic to the line to tie the game late in the 4th quarter! pic.twitter.com/CFdGzC69eO
— Dallas Sports Fanatic (@Dallas_Fanatic) December 9, 2019
While the Kings final shooting numbers, 52% from the field, still look pretty great, they were a lot better after the first half when they were building a 20 point lead. The Mavericks came out softly and were massively outscored in the paint in the first half 38-22.
“They came out aggressive,” Kristaps Porzingis said after the game. “They came out with more intensity than we did in the first half and it allowed them to get too big of a lead. Maybe we were a little too overconfident. In that first half, we were missing intensity.”
“We were very disappointed in our defense in the first half,” Rick Carlisle said postgame while discussing the Kings shooting comfortably over 60% in the first and second quarters. “You have to play the whole game.”
An epic comeback comes up just short
Dallas outscored Sacramento by 16 points in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to dig out of the 20 point hole they faced at halftime. Guard Tim Hardaway Jr. led the Mavs in scoring with 29 points (9-12 shooting from deep) and he was a huge component of keeping the team even in the game at all before Luka Doncic took the reigns in the fourth quarter. He spoke postgame about the message at halftime that helped kick the team into gear once they got things going late in the third.
“Take the challenge. Do you want to get smacked at home or do you want to get the crowd involved and get yourself a chance to win and keep this thing going. Everybody took it to heart and came out in the second half and did just that to give ourselves a chance to win.”
The Kings led by as many as 18 in the fourth quarter, but the Mavericks hit an incredible hot streak down the stretch to make it close.
The Mavericks will now have three full days without a game before taking on the Detroit Pistons in Mexico City on Thursday night.
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