They proved they have the wheels to run out to a big lead, which they did when they led the Suns, 67-45, early in the third quarter. And they also proved that if they don’t properly handle their business, they can blow a big lead and lose a game they should have won, which is precisely what happened in the Valley of the Sun.
The Mavs know they had no business losing this game. But they missed 11 free throws, saw the Suns reel off second-half runs of 31-10 and 23-7, and also saw Damion Lee muscle in a game-winning 15-footer with just 9.7 seconds remaining in the game.
“We just cannot relax,” superstar point guard Luka Doncic said. “We have to play hard whether we are down 20 (points) or playing a different style.
“We have to play to our principles and play hard.”
Here are the three takeaways from the loss to the Suns.
LUKA THE MVP: If everybody didn’t know before, now they know why Luka Doncic is the preseason favorite to capture this year’s Most Valuable Player award. Not only did Doncic score a game-high 35 points, but the second-year point guard also grabbed nine rebounds and handed out a game-high six assists.
Doncic tallied 20 of his points in the first half, which ended with the Mavs holding a 62-45 lead. Overall, Doncic was 10-of-23 from the field, 2-of-10 from three-point range and a perfect 13-for-13 from the charity stripe.
MAVS TRUST WOOD: It took just one game for the Mavs to put their trust in center Christian Wood. Acquired this past summer in a trade with the Houston Rockets, Wood made his debut with the Mavs on Wednesday and it was a smashing success.
Not only did Wood pour in 25 points in only 24 minutes off the bench, but he was a very efficient 9-of-15 from the floor, including 4-of-7 from beyond the three-point line. He also tallied 16 consecutive points, which earned the Mavs a 93-78 lead with 8:30 remaining in the game.
The only low mark on Wood’s score card is that he was just 3-of-10 from the free throw line.
DINWIDDIE HAS HANDLES, TOO: Any doubts the Mavs wouldn’t have another true ball handler on the floor alongside Luka Doncic was answered in the presence of Spencer Dinwiddie. Now in his ninth season, Dinwiddie contributed 15 points and was 6-of-11 from the field, including 3-of-5 from behind the three-point stripe.
Unfortunately, the biggest drawback Wednesday for Dinwiddie is that he was in constant foul trouble. He went to the bench with his fourth foul 24 seconds into the second half, and that’s when the Suns started mounting their comeback.