BOSTON – Kristaps Porzingis knew there would be days like this. Days where, for whatever reasons, the basketball just won’t find its intended destination no matter how hard he tries to steer it in the right direction.
Monday was one of those days for Porzingis as he was just 1-of-11 from the field and scored only four points during the Dallas Mavericks’ 116-106 loss to the Boston Celtics before a sellout crowd of 18,624 at TD Garden.
The loss was the first on the road for the Mavs this season and dropped their overall record to 6-4. Meanwhile, the Celtics increased their record to an NBA-best 8-1.
As he critiqued the difficulties he had trying to gain some traction, Porzingis was hard on himself, but also gave credit where credit was due.
“They did a good job switching and they tried to get underneath me,” Porzingis said of the Celtics. “I had no legs on my shots – it was just flat.
“I rushed into a couple of them. I have to take my time when I get those switches down low and get a good position, and just turn around and shoot over guys.”
Porzingis wasn’t on the court that much, because of foul trouble. And after the 7-3 forward picked up his fifth foul with 9:04 left in the game and the Mavs down 86-84, he never got back on the court.
“I know this is going to come up – Porzingis had a tough night,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’re just going to flush it and move on.
“There’s nights like this. You just got to flush it and move forward. They paid a lot of attention to him and it was just a tough night. I got to work on getting him in better situations.”
Despite the woes by Porzingis, the Mavs were still in the game. They were only behind 95-93 until Kemba Walker (29 points) converted a pair of 3-pointers.
Then, Flower Mound Marcus High School product Marcus Smart completed a three-point play and added two 3-pointers of his own and suddenly Boston was up 116-104.
“This was a very tough physical game, very physical from the very beginning, more physical than we’ve really seen with the exception of maybe the Lakers’ game,” Carlisle said. “They had us on our heels early, I thought we responded extremely well, stuck together, adjusted, kept attacking, kept ourselves right there at halftime.
“They made a run to start the third quarter, we had to re-group and respond again and we did, and it just got away from us in the last six minutes.”
The Mavs actually led, 92-90, with 6:12 to go in the game following a driving layup by Delon Wright. But Boston, which led 72-60 midway through the third quarter, finished the game on a 26-14 run.
“We just fought our way back and just came up a little bit short,” said Jalen Brunson, who finished with 12 points and seven rebounds. “They’re a good team and we’ve got to put a full game together.
“I think we’re still getting better every day, so this is just another step for us.”
Luka Doncic put on another spectacular performance and led the Mavs with 34 points, six rebounds and nine assists. Doncic had 14 points in the third quarter and eight more in the fourth quarter.
Also for the Mavs, Maxi Kleber had 15 points and eight rebounds, and Dwight Powell added 12 points and five boards.
The Mavs followed a script they’d like to toss in the trash can in that they got off to another slow start, falling behind 15-5 less than five minutes into the game. But the second unit righted the ship, and helped make things interesting.
“You never know what’s going to happen in the game,” Brunson sad. “You just got to come in and do your job, and my job is to just go out there and give energy and make plays happen.”
The Mavs narrowed their deficit to 25-21 after the first quarter and the game was tied at 54-54 at the half. Meanwhile, Porzingis was encouraged by the fact that on a night when his game went south, the Mavs were still knocking on the door on the road against the team with the best record in the entire NBA.
“We were right there,” said Porzingis, who only played 20 minutes. “I had an off night tonight and guys stepped up and we fought until the end.
“If I had a better game, the results could have been much different.”