DALLAS- After losing their past four games, the Dallas Mavericks entered Saturday’s matchup against the Phoenix Suns with a renewed sense of urgency in the first half, yet fell once again in a close game, 111-105, here at the AAC.
"This,'' coach Rick Carlisle said, "is a very difficult time.''
Both teams came into Saturday’s game shorthanded. The Mavs were missing star power forward Kristaps Porzingis and the Suns played without All-Star guard Devin Booker.
Dallas was able to avoid a substantial first-half deficit, something that it has struggled with lately, finishing the half tied at 55-55. Tim Hardaway Jr. sparked the Dallas offense in the first half with 10 points and ended the game with 19 points and four rebounds.
Following the Mavericks’ humiliating back-to-back losses to the Utah Jazz, Luka Doncic lamented that “It looks like we don’t care.” While the scoreboard might’ve looked better on Saturday, this loss was still embarrassing for Doncic and the Mavericks.
Carlisle said that effort was not an issue here, that the "fight'' was present.
"We've just got to stay together and fight through this difficult stretch. ... The film that I showed the guys before the game was all about defense ... We made some of those adjustments. The defensive effort was good for the majority of the game.''
As usual, Doncic led the way for the Mavs and finished the game with 29 points and eight rebounds.
Big-man Willie Cauley-Stein filled in nicely for the injured Porzingis, contributing 14 points and nine rebounds.
The Mavericks had a weak start to the fourth quarter, giving up a quick 8-0 run, which flipped the score in the Suns' direction. Some key contributors for Phoenix included Chris Paul, who finished with 29 points, and Deandre Ayton, who dominated the boards with 17 rebounds.
Next up, the Mavs (8-12) will stay home to face the Phoenix Suns (10-8) again on Monday, Feb. 1 at 7:30 p.m. CT. ... and they'll attempt to avoid losing for the ninth time in 11 outings.
"Way, way, way better,'' said Doncic of his team's effort on Saturday, surely knowing that it'll need to be even way, way, way better still to actually win a game.