Apparently, the clock springing forward by an hour overnight had a negative impact on the Dallas Mavericks.
With Kristaps Porzingis having an off night and the Mavs already down several rotation players due to injuries or an illness, the alarm clock didn’t go off in time as the Mavs sleepwalked their way to a 112-109 loss to the Indiana Pacers before a Sunday night American Airlines Center sellout crowd of 20,324.
It was an extremely physical game that the Mavs (39-26) trailed most of the way. In fact, they didn’t take their first lead of the night – 94-93 – until Justin Jackson buried a 3-pointer with 9:32 left.
With the arena buzzing, the Mavs eventually built that lead to 109-104 with 3:14 to play. However, the Pacers scored the game’s final eight points while — after taking that late five-point lead — the Mavs missed their final nine shots and saw their four-game home winning streak go down the tubes.
As Luka Doncic got whacked in the face three times and was tagged with two early fouls, Coach Rick Carlisle described it as a “tough, physical game” that had the Mavs on their heels much of the night.
“We struggled to get good looks – we did get a couple of looks,” Carlisle said. “It’s just execution, and I’ve got to do a better job. We just got to do better, and as the coach it’s my job to facilitate that.”
Doncic finished with 36 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. But he got annoyed at the multiple hits to his face.
“I think always when you get hit in the face (the referees are) going to look at it (to see) if it’s flagrant or not, right?,” Doncic asked. “Like I said, I got hit in the face three times, and two of them were not a foul (called).
“(One of them) was a knee to the face. I don’t know.”
The Pacers got so physical with Doncic that he said he had an X-ray performed on his jaw at halftime, and the X-rays were negative.
Meanwhile, Porzingis struggled through one of his worst games of the season. The four-year veteran center missed his first nine shots and finished the night with just nine points on 3-of-17 shooting.
“I feel like if I had just a little bit of a better game,” Porzingis said, “the results would have been different.”
When the Mavs beat the Pacers in Indiana, 112-103, on Feb. 3, Porzingis finished with 38 points and 12 rebounds.
“After the game that he had against them the last time, they were very determined to be physical with him, not give him anything easy, and it was a very physical night all the way around,” Carlisle said. “They’re a physical team.
“But other than that, there’s going to be nights when guys don’t shoot the ball great, and that’s just the way this league is.”
The Mavs played without starting shooting guard Seth Curry (sprained left ankle) and starting power forward Dorian Finney-Smith (right hip injury). But they have grown accustomed to playing shorthanded because they have a deep bench.
“When you struggle at the end of the game you can come up with a lot of reasons and a lot of excuses,” Carlisle said. “I just don’t think we can do that.
“I think we all have to own it, we have to look at it objectively and see what we can do better and then simply do better.”
Doncic picked up is second foul less than five minutes into the game and had to take a seat on the bench. His absence obviously played a role in the Mavs’ offensive attack not being at its best. They trailed, 31-26, after a quarter.
“The first quarter put us up against it,” Carlisle said. “Losing that quarter by five, and then playing basically even the rest of the way it just speaks again the importance of good starts.”
The ending wasn’t too kind, either, for the Mavs. Of the final 10 shots they missed, seven of them were from behind the 3-point arc.
“I think we had some open shots,” said Doncic, who drew three fouls on T. J. Warren in a 12-second span in the fourth quarter. “We just didn’t make them.”
Indeed, it was like pulling teeth for the Mavs in their quest to score any points during crunch time as they are now 3-13 this season when the game gets within one point in the final minute.
“They made more shots than us, I guess,” said Hardaway, who poured in 30 points. “We were just trying to do the best we could to get the ball in our best players’ hands.
“They did a good job of it. They made it tough on us toward the end.”
Porzingis came into the game with five consecutive games of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. But he simply had one of those games he would rather forget.
“It’s like that sometimes — you just don’t make shots,” Porzingis said. “It came down to those shots (missed by he and his teammates) and those situations.
“But there are so many things that could have went better during the game, so many things I could have done better.”
So many things, as time moved forward overnight by an hour, that didn’t go the Mavs’ way.