The Dallas Mavericks (8-8) were unable to connect from deep the whole night without Kristaps Porzingis in the lineup, resulting in a 133-108 loss to the Houston Rockets (6-9), their worst of the season so far.
On a night where Luka Doncic only saw 29 minutes of action but finished with 26 points, five rebounds and eight assists, the Mavs managed to only hit five of 25 attempts from behind the three-point line, falling to the Rockets without their leading scorer, Christian Wood; and recently acquired Victor Oladipo.
Can’t hit a shot without Kristaps
It’s no secret the Mavericks have been poor from behind the three-point line this season, averaging a modest 33.6%, good for 25th in the league.
Add in tonight’s 20% performance and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Mavs drop to dead last.
Kristaps Porzingis looks like he is close to being fully recovered after undergoing surgery on his torn meniscus in his right knee in October, but the Mavs training staff decided to play it safe, giving him the night off after playing six games in the previous nine days.
Boy did they miss him, as he’s been stuffing the stat sheet the last four games with 22.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.
More importantly, the Mavs clearly missed the spacing he provides, stretching centers out beyond the three-point line which gives Luka and company all the space they need to wreak havoc.
Even though Porzingis is only shooting 33.3% from three-point land this season, the threat of him in the pick-and-pop will always loom too large to ignore, compared to Willie Caulie-Stein or James Johnson soaking up those small-ball center minutes.
Even without the team’s preferred plumber in action to unclog the paint, there were decent looks from behind the arc and moments during the game when Dallas had a chance to challenge for the lead.
Luckily Dallas is only without KP due to injury maintenance, and have one of the best bench players to replicate his play in Maxi Kleber, who is hopefully returning soon while being out due to health and safety protocols.
Porous perimeter defense
The Mavericks lost by a season-worst 25 points tonight, largely fueled by three Rockets posting season-highs in points and raining in three-point attempts.
Eric Gordon, a known scoring commodity, racked up 33 points while shooting 6/9 from downtown.
DeMarcus Cousins went full Boogie-mode posting 28 points, 17 rebounds and 5 assists while hitting four of eight three-pointers and managed not to get ejected.
Defensive-minded wing David Nwaba canned both of his attempts from deep and finished 6/7 from the field overall en route to 18 points.
Without significant stoppers in the rotation due to health and safety protocols, Dallas has been giving up an average of 117.8 points per game the past six matches, as opposed to their season average of 107.9.
The addition of Dorian Finney-Smith, a more capable corner-three shooter than Wes Iwundu, Josh Richardson, a better on-ball defender than Tim Hardaway Jr., and Maxi Kleiber who provides more range than WCS could not come soon enough as hopefully it will stop the hemorrhaging done by opposing teams’ top-tier perimeter players.
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