DALLAS - After losing four straight home games, the Dallas Mavericks desperately needed to flip the script. Unfortunately for the Mavs, it's not easy to get back into the winning column against the the Eastern Conference-leading Brooklyn Nets and their mountain of talent. On Tuesday evening, the Mavs and Nets battled down to final seconds but Brooklyn snuck out a 102-99 comeback victory in the American Airlines Center.
The battle featured nice chemistry between Mavs stars, national broadcast criticism of Luka Doncic's weight and terrible shooting from the arc. The Mavs have now lost eight of their last 10 games and five straight at home.
Dallas received reinforcements in form of Doncic (28 points) and Kristaps Porzingis (17 points, 12 rebounds, five assists).Doncic, who is dealing with a sprained knee, left ankle soreness and an injured thumb, returned after missing Saturday's game. Porzingis returned from a two-game absence with a left knee contusion.
Said coach Jason Kidd: “We’re a jump shooting team that’s not making jump shots.”
Dallas jumped to a quick 27-21 lead over Brooklyn, with much thanks to a hot start from Doncic, who was clearly wincing through pain. Neither team shot particularly well from beyond the arc in the first quarter, the Mavs (3-13) edged out the Nets (0-7.)
Also notable, Doncic did not properly funnel his displeasure with NBA referees, as urged by coach Kidd. Doncic, one of the most vocal when it comes to griping with the refs, appears to have taken some advice from Kidd to not lobby for calls during live play. However, Doncic did received a technical foul in the third quarter - Doncic's fifth tech of the season.
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The Mavs led for the entire first half and Porzingis also came back in a big way... Highlighted by a great play in the second quarter; a nice block and lob up the court to find Tim Hardaway Jr. in transition for an alley-oop finish. The cherry on top of the first half was a Doncic three-pointer at the buzzer that made the fans at the AAC leap to their feet and put Dallas up 62-50. Simultaneously, the TNT broadcast carried on about comments about Doncic's weight, all making for a funny juxtaposition.
The physicality increased in the second half as the two teams battled down to the final seconds. The Nets began a comeback with back-to-back threes from Kevin Durant and Patty Mills to cut the Mavs lead to 88-85 with 8:28 remaining. The Nets took their first lead of the game with six minutes remaining.
The Nets' weapons shined in Dallas, starting with Durant who scored 24 points for Brooklyn. The former Texas Longhorn got cheers from the Texas crowd when announced. James Harden also added 23 points.
The final minutes were a back-and-forth trading of buckets between Durant and Doncic, creating an electric atmosphere in the AAC. Dorian Finney-Smith played especially well on the defense for Dallas.
With 20 seconds remaining, down 102-99, Doncic fouled Nic Claxton, who missed both free throws. On the ensuing possession, Doncic and Hardaway Jr. both missed three-pointers that would have tied the game. The Mavs could not overcome their bad 9-46 (19.6 percent) from beyond the arc, ultimately falling to the Nets after leading the majority of the game.
“Catastrophic,” KP said of his team’s perimeter shooting.
It was the first meeting between Mavs head coach Kidd and Nets head coach Steve Nash, who were in Phoenix together from 1996-98. Of course, Nash also played six seasons in Dallas (1998-2004). Between Kidd and Nash, the point guards combined for more than 7,100 assists during their times with the Mavs franchise. Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki was also in attendance and received a standing ovation.
Now the Mavs will hit the road. A three-game road trip for Dallas starts with a quick turnaround against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT.