It’s back to the drawing board for the Dallas Mavericks following Wednesday’s disappointing 108-85 loss to the New York Knicks.
The Mavs couldn’t string together any sustained rallies, and thus had their season-long six-game winning streak snapped against a Knicks’ team which entered the game with a 20-21 record.
“They play really physically in general and tried to keep bodies on guys – all our guys,” acting head coach Sean Sweeney said. “They’re very good at playing with their bodies, using their hands and shrinking the floor.
“They oftentimes will play five against the ball and make it tough on anybody who has it, and tonight was no different there. Guys tried to do the right thing for the most part. It just didn’t go our way tonight.”
Here are our five takeaways.
POWER GONE: Someone must have unplugged the Mavs’ power outlet from the wall socket, because the team that averaged 108.7 ppg during their six-game winning streak was nowhere to be found Wednesday. The 85 points were the second-lowest of the season scored by the Mavs, and were topped only by the 75 points they scored in the Mile High City of Denver on Oct. 29 on the second night of a grueling back-to-back. Energy, indeed, was in short supply against the Knicks as the Mavs shot just 41 percent from the field and misfired on 29 of 37 attempts from three-point land (21.6 percent). Even more telling, the Knicks outscored the Mavs in each of the four quarters. That right there is a tell-tell sign that all wasn’t at all right for the Mavs on this night – for whatever reasons.
KNICKS HIT THE BOARDS: On nights like this, the Mavs sure could have used the services of Kristaps Porzingis. Why? Because the 7-3 forward/center – out due to the health and safety protocols — could have disrupted some of the damage the Knicks did to the Mavs around the paint. The Knicks outscored the Mavs in the paint, 50-38. And they outrebounded the Mavs, 54-39, including 11-5 on the offensive end. Knicks center Mitchell Robinson picked up 10 rebounds, including four on the offensive side of the floor. The Mavs’ entire starting lineup combined for just four offensive rebounds. Three other members of the Knicks corralled at least seven rebounds, including Plano native Julius Randle, who had 12.
TRAP GAME: No one likes to admit this, but Wednesday’s Mavs-Knicks game was a “trap game” for the Mavs. What’s a trap game? It’s a game played against a sub .500 team stuck between two games that a team plays against more powerful opponents. In this case, before playing the Knicks, on Sunday the Mavs played the Chicago Bulls, who came to American Airlines Center with the best record in the Eastern Conference and winners of nine straight games. And after playing the Knicks, the Mavs will play the Memphis Grizzlies, who have won 10 consecutive games and are the talk of the NBA. Unfortunately, in these situations, games like the one against the Knicks get lost in the shuffle. It happens to all teams.
MAVS LED JUST ONCE: When the Mavs only lead one time during the entire game, you got to know it’s just not their night. The only time the Mavs led Wednesday was at 8-7. From there, the Knicks just kept applying the pressure util their lead grew as high as 25 points in the fourth quarter. All of this was very odd, since the Mavs had led by as many as 10 points in the previous 11 games, including against the likes of the Milwaukee Bucks, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors and Chicago Bulls. It was the Mavs’ longest streak since the 2010-’11 season, when they went 13 straight games with a double-digit lead en route to winning their lone championship. But any lead was in short supply Wednesday.
NEEDED A FASTER PACE: In retrospect, guard Jalen Brunson thought the Mavs should have picked up the pace a bit against the Knicks, and that could have made a huge difference in Wednesday’s game. After all, the Knicks entered the game as the slowest paced team in the entire NBA. “I think we played down to their pace a little bit,” Brunson said. “They’re generally a slower paced team and I think we could have played a little faster, but you’ve got to give them credit.” Luka Doncic, who led the Mavs with 21 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, said of the Knick: “They beat us squarely. It’s a disappointment. We were playing really well.”