It’s never easy for the Mavericks nowadays, huh? Can never just be an easy victory or a blowout loss. Always a gut-wrenching ending.
Tonight was no different but it wasn’t necessarily with their play but with a technicality of sorts.
You could say the first quarter was quite the roller coaster ride. To start, it was one of those rides where you get stuck sitting next to a random person who screams obnoxiously ending in you drenched in their puke.
Yeah, I know.
The Mavericks just could not find their grounding as the Clippers jumped out to an 18-2 lead. Sloppy turnovers turned into fast break buckets were the story.
But then a switch turned. That roller coaster quickly became steep drops and fun loops with your hands up and hair blowing in the wind as the Mavericks came firing back, ending the first quarter with a 38-34 lead and a three-point lead into halftime.
As the second half started, that’s when the game turned. We’re used to seeing bad habits of third quarter slumps from Dallas but tonight was different as Kristaps Porzingis was questionably ejected with his second technical of the night as he ran to Luka’s side when he and Marcus Morris began to exchange words.
The officials saw Porzingis as an “escalator” in the situation which led to his demise but we’ll touch on that later. With the loss of KP, the Mavericks, who were leading 71-66 when KP was booted, lost control of the game ultimately losing 118-110, though not without a fight.
Kawhi Leonard led the way for Los Angeles with 29 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, and three steals. Paul George followed up with 27 points of his own.
Luka did what Luka does with 42 points, seven rebounds, nine assists, and three steals. 18 points for Hardaway Jr. and 14 for both KP and Seth Curry.
Tonight’s officiating was below average, to say the least.
Let’s just get into it: the ejection of Kristaps was an absolute joke. Soft as Charmin.
These are the type of calls that can alter a series. Having an All-Star ejected from a tight game for such a questionable, soft call, which you can argue this ejection altered the rest of tonight’s game.
“No, of course not. But I understand,” Porzingis on if he deserved the ejection. “We got into it a little bit. I saw him getting into Luka’s face and I didn’t like that.” Ejection or not, rulebook or not, if you ask every player on the Mavs roster if they feel KP did the wrong thing, it’ll be all one answer; no. He stood up for his teammate. He had his brother’s back. You cannot ask for more in a teammate than that and Luka explained that.
“I knew that KP had my back. He did it for me. Not just me, but the whole team appreciates that,” Doncic said. “I don’t think it was fair to get him out of the game, especially in the playoffs.”
But it wasn’t just this call. Several missed calls, ironically involving KP, hurt the Mavericks in the first half with a missed shooting foul on Zubac and a phony foul call on Porzingis which looked to be a clean block.
Kristaps’ first technical occurred when he swung his fist after another non-call from the refs. Though a questionable call from a fan standpoint, Carlisle stood by the officials. “It’s in the rulebook. Not even a discussion.” Paul George also got a technical for the same offense so there’s some consistency there but I can think of several occasions tonight where Kawhi whined to the refs with his hands raised and flailing but I guess that goes for Luka too.
Bottom line, we need consistency from the officials in the postseason, not just on standard foul calls but on what calls for a technical foul. And once that is set in stone, all officials across the entire league must abide by those and not have a quick whistle when a “tussle” breaks out.
This is the playoffs. Don’t penalize a player for coming to his teammates defense and exchanging a few words and a light shove.
Let them get a little grimy and talkative. That only raises the intensity of the postseason.
It’s a miracle that this was even a game after how this contest began. It was as if the Clippers started the game up 10-0 as fast as they jumped out to a lead.
Talk about turnover galore for Dallas to begin the game, which of course led to fast break chances for the Clips.
Of course, as we now know, the Mavericks rallied quickly and ended up leading 38-34 at the end of the first, but that’s not the point.
Dallas lost tonight by eight points. You think if maybe you don’t start the game down 18-2 in the first few minutes that you might have a better shot at being up 1-0 in the series? Just maybe.
Whether it’s slow starts in the first or third quarters, pick your poison. In this series, against this caliber of opponent, that simply cannot be the case if the Mavericks want to even the series or even make it a competitive one.
42 points, seven rebounds, nine assists, and three steals on 13/21 from the field and 14/15 from the line.
How’s that for a playoff debut?
Well, just the most points in a playoff debut in NBA history.
No big deal.
Luka Dončić had 42 points tonight, marking the most points in a playoff debut by any player in @NBA history.
Dončić is the 1st 21-year-old to record 40+ points in a playoff game since LeBron James in 2006, and is only the 4th 21-year-old to do it (Tracy McGrady, Magic Johnson). pic.twitter.com/2vgQJhbI4q
— Mavs PR (@MavsPR) August 18, 2020
Doncic was able to do whatever he wanted tonight. He got to his spots, no matter who was defending him and didn’t feel forced into contested step back threes.
The issue with his performance tonight? Turnovers.
11 of them.
He had four early in the first quarter when the Clippers looked to be running away with the game already. With the abundance of elite defenders that the Clippers can throw at Luka, it’s understandable how you can turn the ball over.
Just not 11 times.
“Terrible. I had 11 turnovers. I never had that much,” Luka said.
Forget the points. Forget everything else. Luka wants to win and if his play or his mistakes help lead to a loss, that’s all he cares about.
I’d expect less than 11 turnovers on Wednesday. God forbid.
Overall, an uneasy feeling after this loss. This game was up for grabs once the Mavericks woke up mid-first quarter. Even when KP was tossed, the game was still in Dallas’ reach. If you don’t start the game down 18-2 and limit some turnovers, the Mavericks win this game and are up 1-0 on the favorites to win it all.
The Mavericks look to even the series on Wednesday at 8PM.
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