Luka Rips Jersey, Rick Rips Refs; Can Mavs Rip Visiting Sixers Tonight?

Mike Fisher

DALLAS - The Dallas Mavericks are in an undeniable slump, and while there is plenty of frustration to go around and plenty of blame, too, the fix isn't really about ripping refs or ripping jerseys.

"I played very bad," said Doncic after Friday's 129-114 loss to the powerful Lakers. "I felt like I don't know how to play basketball. I've got to get better. A lot."

Doncic's frustration boiled over in the second quarter at the AAC ripped his jersey after missing two free throws.

Coach Rick Carlisle's frustration did the same later, when he earned an ejection from the game. On a serious note, he commented later that what the referees are doing (especially in allowing opponents to "take liberties'' physically with Doncic) amounts to "things going on out there  that are quite frankly shocking, and our guys are going through a rough time because of it. I have to stand up and defend them. That’s another part of my job and I’m going to do it. And I’ll do it again tomorrow.”

"Tomorrow'' is today, with the 25-14 Sixers in town and Dallas having to deal with back-to-back powerhouses. "A murderous stretch,'' Rick called it. 

Dallas (23-15) has lost five of its last seven games and currently owns the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. And maybe the Mavs catch a break with Joel Embiid unavailable to Philly. But a lineup that will still include Ben Simmons, Al Horford, Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson and is fully capable of continuing to fuel Mavs "frustration.''

"I know I can get better," Luka said. "There's a lot of things. I'm 20 years old. I've got a lot of things that I can do better, I can learn better. So I'll get better."

That is central to Carlisle's approach, too, or at least it is once he calms down a bit.

"(Doncic) is a guy who loves to win and he got frustrated when he missed the free throws,'' Rick said (above video courtesy Dallas Sports Fanatic and Taimon Turner). "I think that’s when he tore the jersey. Those are emotions and feelings that are about winning and losing, so I get it.

“He’s going through a lot this year, a lot of different situations. He’s made phenomenal performances. Other nights, people have just taken physical liberties on him and beaten the shit out of him. He’s learning how to deal with all that stuff. It’s not easy.

“When I was 20 years old, I was walking around as a freshman at the University of Maine. I didn’t know whether to shit or wind my wristwatch, and this guy is a second-year player and he’s going to be a starter in the All-Star Game. 

(Sidebar: That's old-timey talk for "being confused.'' See McMurphy's Jack Nicholson's in "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest'' where he says it about Nurse Ratchet.)

"I think we have to understand that he’s still young. He’s mature beyond his years in terms of how he sees the game and his skillset and how he can do things out on the floor, but we’re going through a rough stretch right now and everybody needs to try to keep their emotions in check. When we do get frustrated, channel that frustration toward the team and each other.”

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