PHOENIX — Yes, it was only one game, and there’s 81 more to go. But it was one game the Dallas Mavericks know they totally gift-wrapped to the Phoenix Suns.
The Mavs led by 22 points early in the third quarter of Wednesday’s regular season opener, and by 15 points with 8:30 remaining in the game. However, before the Mavs could get their second wind, they had blown both of those leads and lost the game, 107-105, in surprising fashion.
As Mavs fans shake their head and wonder what happened against the Suns, backup center Christian Wood tried to put everyone’s mind at ease.
“It’s the first game,” Wood said. “We’re not too worried. We’re going to get back in the gym and see what we can fix — our defensive things.
“I think that was the biggest thing for us. And just get better and take it day-by-day.”
Wood did his part in helping the Mavs stay north of the Suns for most of the night as he finished with 25 points and eight rebounds in only 24 minutes off the bench. Wood even tallied 16 straight points during a span of four minutes and eight seconds bridging the third and fourth quarters which staked the Mavs to a 93-78 led with 8:30 left in the game.
But Wood went to the bench in favor of Maxi Kleber with 6:41 remaining in the game and the Mavs clinging to a 95-84 lead. By the time he returned with 2:19 to go, Dallas was trailing the Suns, 101-100.
“We were going a little bit offense-defense and just seeing how that was going to go,” coach Jason Kidd said. “I wanted to see, understanding, with Maxi out there defensively. And then also offensively, being able to stretch (the defense), so we don’t lose anything there.
“And then C-Wood, offensively, we wanted to see how he handled it. And then defensively, coming down the stretch we wanted to see a couple of minutes there from him.”
Wood wound up converting 9-of-15 shots, including 4-of-7 from three-point range. But it was the Suns – they trailed 65-47 at intermission — who made the biggest baskets of the night as they also turned 12 Mavs turnovers into 18 points.
“Coming out in the second half we knew they were going to punch us in the mouth in the second half, and they did just that,” Wood said. “Especially with the good teams — playing against the playoff teams — you have to know how to take care of the ball.”
Before the game, coach Jason Kidd talked about Wednesday’s nationally televised game being just one of 82 regular season games. He also knew that as a participant in last year’s Western Conference Finals, the Mavs will have a huge target on their backs this season.
“We just can’t pick up where we left off (last season) – it’s impossible,” Kidd said. “Maybe not for the (world champion Golden State) Warriors, but we have to go through it and we’re excited about this opportunity.”
The next opportunity for the Mavs (0-1) will come Saturday at 7:30 p.m. when they host the Memphis Grizzlies (1-0). As for the game against Phoenix, Kidd said: “There’s no reason to overreact. It’s one game. If we overacted last year you would have thought we would never even make it to the playoffs.
“We’ll see who does well in what situation, and we’ll put guys in different situations and see how they handle it and go from there. I think fantasy basketball people are excited. We’ll see what happens. It should be fun.”
A packed house at American Airlines Center will be on hand to witness the Mavs tangle with the Grizzlies. And it can’t come soon enough for the Mavs, who are eager to get that bad loss to the Suns out of their mouth.
“Overall, we did some great things out there (against Phoenix) as a team,” Wood said. “It’s just the little things that we have to fix.”
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