The home court let the Dallas Mavericks down. Again.
Julius Randle returned home to pour in 44 points and lead the New York Knicks to a 117-109 victory over the Mavs on Friday night at American Airlines Center. The loss left the Mavs 30-25 overall and just 13-13 at home.
Meanwhile, because Portland went into San Antonio and edged the Spurs, 107-106, also on Friday night, the Mavs now trail the Trail Blazers by two games in the race for the all-important sixth spot in the Western Conference.
Kristaps Porzingis led the Mavs with 23 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks, Luka Doncic finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and a career-high tying 19 assists, and Tim Hardaway Jr. tallied 16 points. Also for the Mavs, Josh Richardson notched 14 points and Dorian Finney-Smith contributed 13 points and seven boards.
Randle, a native of Plano, scored 15 of his points in the first quarter after scoring just 14 points on April 2 when the Mavs went into New York and defeated the Knicks, 99-86.
Randle popped in 21 of his points in the first half, which ended with the Knicks ahead, 56-52. In short, the Mavs couldn’t do anything to slow down Randle as he literally had his way.
“Randle’s an All-Star,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “And he loves coming back home and playing here.”
Almost every time the Mavs were trying to establish something meaningful, either Randle, RJ Barrett (24 points, eight boards) or Derrick Rose (15 points, five assists) were there to derail the Mavs’ progress.
“He got going early tonight,” Carlisle said of Randle. “I think he may have hit one shot early, and then we were unable to keep him at bay.
“When his shot-making is like it was tonight, it’s just very, very difficult. But we needed to do more to make it harder on their whole team. We just didn’t take really much of anything away.”
Overall, Randle was 16-of-29 from the field, 6-of-11 from 3-point land and also added 10 rebounds and six assists while finishing the night just one point off his career high of 45 points.
“Julius had a good night,” Finney-Smith said. “When he’s making shots he just becomes an all-around threat.
“I think he made his first three threes. That changed the way we had to guard him. He did a good job of getting to his sweet spots. He also found shooters and cutters.”
The home loss continues to be a mystery for the Mavs. Especially considering they have 17 wins on the road this season, and the only team with more road wins are the Los Angeles Lakers with 18.
But at home, it’s an entirely different story for the Mavs. And that’s a mystery that continues to fluster everyone associated with the Mavs’ organization.
“We’ve got to pick it up in that first quarter and we’ve got to start coming out a little better,” Finney-Smith said. “When it’s easy for us to score, just trading baskets is never a good sign for us. We just got to step it up defensively.”
A 3-pointer by Doncic gave Dallas a 70-66 lead late in the third quarter. But the Knicks finished the quarter on a 17-9 run and led, 83-79, heading into the final period.
And after the Mavs whittled a 12-point deficit down to 95-101, Randle scored four straight points, and later added another basket as the Knicks vaulted ahead, 109-99, with 1:44 remaining in the game.
“I can’t tell you all of the exact reasons, but they came out with a real physical presence and carried it through the game,” Carlisle said. “And (Randle is) a big part of that.”
With 15 points from Randle — he scored New York’s first 10 points of the game — the Knicks led, 34-25, after the first quarter as the Mavs had problems getting settled.
“The start to the game really hurt us,” Carlisle said. “A nine-point deficit at the end of the first was a big hole.
“(It was a) very physical game. At times we matched the physicality that was necessary, but a lot of times we were unable to do it. So it was a difficult result.”
The loss had extra meaning for the Mavs because their next four games are also at AAC, starting with Sunday’s contest against the Sacramento Kings. Considering the Mavs’ struggles on their home court, they’re not sure what to expect over the next four games.
“We cut it down in that third quarter, then they made a little run at the end,” Finney-Smith said. “D-Rose also played good off the bench.
“They were just the best team tonight.”