Mavs End 2019 with Disappointing 106-101 Loss to Thunder
As good as the Dallas Mavericks have been for the majority of this season, there seems to be at least one glaring issue that has to concern them heading into the new year -- holding onto leads late in fourth quarters.
Yes, the Mavs probably aren't feeling the 'Happy New Year' vibes after they saw their 99-92 lead with 2:57 remaining against the Oklahoma City Thunder turn into a disappointing 106-101 loss. The Thunder's 14-2 closeout of the Mavs was lead by Chris Paul, who scored nine points in that stretch alone and finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Kristaps Porzingis, despite initially being listed in the starting lineup for tonight, was a late scratch due to right knee soreness. In Porzingis' absence, along with Tim Hardaway Jr. being out with a hamstring injury, Luka Doncic had to shoulder a lot more of the offensive load as he finished with 35 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Although those numbers look impressive, Doncic only shot 12-29 from the field in this one and 3-16 from deep. As a team, the Mavs shot just 15-51 from behind the arc, and two of those misses were nearly wide-open looks that could have tied the game at 104 in the final seconds.
Maxi Kleber and Dwight Power were the only other Mavs who scored in double figures. Kleber finished with a 14-point, 14-rebound double-double, and Powell scored 11 points on 3-5 shooting from the field and 5-6 from the free-throw line. With Hardaway Jr. out, Seth Curry has picked a really bad time to hit a cold streak with his shooting. Curry is just 6-24 from the field in the last two games and 4-13 from deep.
“We’ve got a deep roster and we’re very capable of having guys step up and step forward,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’re not going to be an ‘excuse Team’; we’re just not going to go there. We just got to execute a little bit better at both ends.”
This game marked the fifth time in nine games where the Mavs either completely given up their fourth-quarter lead or let it get much too close for comfort. Doncic missed four games during that stretch, but as we saw tonight, it can still happen when he's playing. Whatever the reasons for it are, it's up to Carlisle and Doncic to figure it out as the team heads into 2020 with a 21-12 record.
As the Mavs get closer to the trade deadline, it would make sense if they attempted to bolster their depth by adding another piece like Bogdan Bogdanovic or Robert Covington. There doesn't seem to be any rush at the moment, but if the Mavs were to hit a losing streak here at the beginning of the year, we could see some movement sooner rather than later.
The Mavs will now head back to Dallas to start off the new year with a six-game home stand that will start on Thursday night against the Brooklyn Nets.