They say you grow stronger when you go through adversity than when you enjoy good times.
If that’s the case, the Mavericks some day will come out of this with muscles they never knew they had.
Another crushing blow came Monday night when Devin Booker’s 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds left nestled into the net, breaking the Mavericks’ heart at the same time. That shot delivered a 109-108 victory to the Phoenix Suns at American Airlines Center.
The Mavericks’ sixth consecutive was the most painful one yet. It dropped them to 8-13 overall and it came with another harsh reminder about the price you pay for not doing the little things with the game on the line.
Josh Richardson had made two free throws with 54 seconds left. After Phoenix missed three point-blank shots, including a layup by Chris Paul, who had tortured the Mavericks all night, a jump ball went the Suns’ way and Paul fed Booker near the Suns’ bench.
Richardson had a hand up, but Booker made the shot anyway and the Mavericks couldn’t help but feel a little snakebit.
Luka Dončić heaved a 30-foot shot at the buzzer that clanged off the rim.
At issue on the Suns’ final basket was the fact that the Mavericks had a foul to give, which they could have taken before Booker got a chance to take his winning shot.
It was the lack of attention to detail that has hounded the Mavericks through their losing streak.
“We were well aware we had a foul to give,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We were suppose to take it, we did not. That’s my responsibility. There is not going to be any fingerpointing. It’s going to fall right in my lap.
“We’re just learning the hard way that attention to the smallest details is of the utmost importance. It’s hard to imagine being more disappointed after a game.”
The Mavericks lost for the second time in three days to the Suns, who got a monster game from Paul (34 points, nine rebounds, nine assists).
“We had a foul to give,” Richardson said. “Our whole last timeout was about taking that foul. And we didn’t take it. And he (Booker) is a great player. You got to give him credit. My hand was up.”
That it was. But when Paul was dribbling in the corner would have been the time to take the foul and force the Suns to restart their final play again with less time on the clock.
“We lost because of details,” said Dončić, who had 25 points. “Our effort was great. And we’re going to get there, I know. Details, that’s what we have to work on and that’s why we lost.”
This is when a team on a losing streak has to stay together, he said.
“It’s tough, but there’s always another game coming,” Dončić said. “You got to stay positive. This is where you can see where we are in the tough moments. We are staying together. The last two games were way better than before. This is where big things come together.”
The Mavericks had led by 11 in the third quarter. But mostly, this had been a back-and-forth game that figured to come down to the wire.
Every time the Mavericks tried to nose in front, it seemed like Paul would answer. In this two-game set against the Mavericks, he had 63 points, 21 assists and 12 rebounds.
And then there was Booker, who had missed Saturday’s game with a hamstring problem. He finished with 24 points, 20 of them after halftime.
“He makes that shot,” Carlisle said of the game-winner. “That’s one of the reasons we were going to take the foul. It’s a bad mistake and it’s just so unfortunate because the game was there.
“When things are difficult, it becomes even harder to bust out. And we’re just going to have to stay together and keep grinding. We’re doing too many good things to not keep pushing toward progress.”
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