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Three takeaways from Mavs’ season opening loss in Phoenix

After DeAndre Jordan netted a free throw to complete a three-point play opportunity with just under three minutes to play in the first quarter, it became apparent that these were not last season’s Mavericks facing the Suns in Talking Stick Resort Arena.

Jordan scored all 11 points in the opening 12 minutes of play, while all five starters finished in double figures. But the Mavs surrendered a 121-100 loss to the Suns in Phoenix led by 35 points from Devin Booker on opening night and a combined 35 points between Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren from the bench.

It’s opening night and the Mavs showed signs of a starting five unit still learning to co-exist on both ends of the floor. This is not abnormal for a unit accommodating new faces. Dallas was outscored 75-51 in the first and fourth quarters, while the Mavs edged out an advantage during the second and third quarters, 49-46.

Doncic is going to be a fun follow

Luka Doncic opened his career with 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists in 32 minutes of action. The rookie also managed four turnovers and struggled to find his shot. Doncic connected on 5-of-16 field goal attempts, shooting 0-for-5 from beyond the arc.

Dallas struggled from distance with Dirk Nowitzki and Harrison Barnes absent from the season opener. Phoenix made nine more threes than Dallas on just one extra attempt. Doncic will continue to provide an added dynamic in the passing lane for the Mavs. But if he and Dennis Smith Jr. consistently combine to shoot 11-for-35, which is highly unlikely, this season could become the learning curve for a new era of basketball in Dallas.

Frontcourt play becoming a strength

Without looking at the box score, who led the Mavs in scoring last night? Dennis Smith Jr.? No. Dirk Nowitzki? He didn’t play. Luka Doncic? Wrong again. Dwight Powell led all Mavs scorers with 16 points off the bench.

Here’s a take from the ‘way too early’ machine: Dallas has a defined frontcourt presence this season. Between Jordan and Powell the Mavs are equipped with both rim protection and a lob presence at the basket. Mix in Maxi Kleber (who did not miss a shot on Wednesday) along with Dirk Nowitzki and you have a healthy mix of athletic finishers and perimeter threats.

Defensive consistency will define this team

The Mavs brought the game within four points with about seven minutes to play in Phoenix. Then the Mavs play-by-play team on Fox Sports Southwest delivered a resounding stat: Dallas played in 50 games last season decided by 5 points or fewer, a league-high, they won only 12 of those games generating the worst winning percentage in games decided by five points or fewer.

What do you think happened when this game got within five points late? Devin Booker went to work.

Booker scored 17 points in the fourth quarter and helped Phoenix secure a 20-point victory despite the Mavs hitting 100 points. Dallas struggled to contain Booker in the fourth and had even more struggles containing the three-point shot throughout the contest. The Mavs are certainly relieved to see the Timberwolves coming to American Airlines Center for the home opener in Dallas on Saturday. Minnesota made just 6-of-19 three-point attempts in their 112-108 loss to San Antonio.

Podcast host and credentialed media member covering Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Wings | Roamed the rapidly growing area of Arlington Texas for the last 25 years. I graduated Texas Tech in 2014 with my Bachelor's degree in Media and Communications and currently obsess over basketball full-time. In my free time, I'm a substitute teacher and also an Uber driver. I've been following the Mavs since Jason, Jimmy and Jamal were young up-and-comers. If you need their last names, please don't ask me.

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