The way things are going for the Mavericks, their plane flight Tuesday night to Memphis probably missed the exit and ended up in Nashville.
They’re missing pretty much everything else this season.
Another foul shooting night marred an otherwise silver-bullet effort against one of the best teams in basketball. But the feeble shooting was too much to overcome.
The Brooklyn Nets overcame a 17-point deficit, including an 11-point gap in the fourth quarter, to chase down the Mavericks for a 102-99 victory at American Airlines Center.
The Mavericks lost for the fifth consecutive time at home and now have lost eight of their last 10 overall.
They are under .500 (11-12) for the first time since they were 0-1 to start the season. They’ll try to rectify that when a three-game trip starts against the Grizzlies on Wednesday.
The unfortunate part of Tuesday was that, against most of the NBA, the Mavericks would have walked away with a much-needed win.
“If we basketball like that for the rest of the year, we’ll be in pretty good shape,” said Jalen Brunson. “We just happened to run into the best team in the East.”
The Nets (17-7) are one of the favorites to win the NBA championship and sit atop the Eastern Conference.
And while a national television audience was treated to wall-to-wall star power, Luka Dončić, got outdueled by James Harden and Kevin Durant down the stretch.
The Mavericks were outscored 27-13 in the fourth quarter, shot 4-for-21 (19 percent) in the period and were just 1-for-12 from 3-point range. That’s 8.3 percent for those of you who like the grisly details.
“They (3-pointers) weren’t going in,” coach Jason Kidd said. “And when you shoot 46 of them (making just nine for the game), that puts you in a tough situation. But our defense again gave us an opportunity.
“Durant, Harden, they’re going to make plays. They made shots at the end, we didn’t. It’s hard to win any game if you only score 13 points in the fourth quarter. You got to make shots.”
Kidd’s analysis was not sugar-coated.
“We’re a jump-shooting team that’s not making jump shots,” he said. “That just doesn’t go well. As well as the defense can play, you can only hold them off for so long before the dam breaks.”
And the Mavericks did play solid defense for three quarters after which they were up 86-75. They had not trailed until two Harden free throws put Brooklyn up 91-90.
The Mavericks were up 97-95 until Patty Mills drained a 3-pointer from the corner. The former San Antonio guard has confounded the Mavericks before and he did it again with that shot and a couple of big rebounds on the defensive end.
Harden then drove for a bucket to put the Nets up 100-97.
The Mavericks had a great chance to tie it when Porzingis got loose on the baseline and was fouled, but his layup rolled off the rim. The two free throws left the Mavericks down 100-99 and that became a three-point gap when Durant hit a midrange jumper with a minute to go.
After the using their last timeout with 20 seconds left and trailing 102-99, they got two chances to win it, but both Dončić and Tim Hardaway Jr. missed 3-pointers and a great opportunity had eluded the Mavericks.
“We had a lot of wide-open looks there in the fourth quarter that just didn’t go down,” Kidd said. “At the very end, Timmy has a wide-open look. You couldn’t ask for a better look to tie up the game.”
Dončić and Harden were like heavyweights going at it. Dončić finished with 28 points, nine assists and five rebounds. Harden narrowly missed a triple-double with 23 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds.
Dončić, who had missed the last game with ankle soreness, returned despite obviously playing through some discomfort.
“It’s still painful,” he said afterward. “But I try to play. I try to practice. But it’s still painful.”
Asked what the Mavericks have to do to pull out of this tailspin, he said: “Just stick together. We have 82 games. We’re 23 games in. There’s a lot of games and a lot of things to learn and work on.”
And, sooner or later they will hit some of those shots.
At least, that’s the hope.
“Missed shots have been our narrative for a while now,” Brunson said. “But we’re getting looks. We work on it. We just got to translate it to the game.”