Mavs Donuts: Let's Quit Griping At NBA Refs, Says Porzingis

Mike Fisher

Mavs Monday Donuts: Kristaps Porzingis Admits His Dallas Mavericks Must Quit Griping At The NBA Referees

DONUT 1: WHO IS THE SCAPEGOAT? On the list of issues for the Dallas Mavericks following an NBA weekend in the Orlando bubble from which they emerged 0-2, "Scapegoating The Officials'' does not rank very high.

And Kristaps Porzingis knows it, admitting that the Mavs tend to gripe at the referees in a way that creates a self-inflicted distraction and an unsavory look as well.

DONUT 2: AN 'UNENJOYABLE' LOOK “Obviously, us players, we’re extremely competitive and the refs know that,'' said KP after the Friday re-opening OT loss to the Houston Rockets. "I feel like the amount of complaining and talking to the refs in this game ...  if I was a fan, I probably wouldn’t enjoy it. 

RELATED: Rockets Hand Mavs Heartbreaking OT Loss

"I kind of caught myself in those situations and in those moments and I was like, ‘We’re doing too much (complaining). We need to just play basketball here.''

DONUT 3: FROM KP'S LIPS TO TO LUKA'S EARS Porzingis' insight and honesty here is refreshing - and team leader Luka Doncic needs to absorb it.

Unfortunately, Game 2 in the NBA Bubble saw the Mavs having to deal with way too many other lessons. In addition to poor calls (which certainly occurred in both games), maybe there was less griping ... but there was still another last-minute defeat, as now Dallas' inability to close is reaching a point of ridiculousness.

RELATED: Are Mavs Simply "The Not-Ready-For-Clutch-Time Players''?

The underdog Suns beat the playoff-bound Mavs (yes, they did clinch on Sunday, by virtue of Memphis being eliminated) and yup, Dallas once again had a double-digit lead and once again lost it by coughing away the ending.

RELATED: "Bubble Trouble'': Luka Shines But Playoff-Bound Mavs Lose to Suns, 117-115

While it's not the No. 1 issue, it's on the list. So ... is there a way to Make Friends And Influence Referees?

In my younger days, I wasn't a very good athlete. But I was a good coach/manager and a good referee/umpire. And as a result, I developed two philosophies about the player-ref relationship.

DONUT 4: REFS MUST BE AT LEAST AS GOOD AS THE TEAMS The referee's performance only needs to be as good as the team's. If, for instance, you shoot 1-of-9 from the arc and commit eight turnovers (as an otherwise statistically-brilliant Doncic did against the Rockets), the result isn't the fault of the ref.

Luka, by the way, vowed to "be better'' than that 1-of-9 stuff, and he was. Against the Suns, he put up an astounding 40 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds while shooting 11-of-20 from the field and an impressive 18-of-19 from the free-throw line. 

So this wasn't his "fault,'' exactly. But it certainly wasn't the fault of the refs, either, even though I'm sure the NBA will release a report detailing that some human missed a call somewhere.

*The ref, in doing his job, likely didn't make eight major mistakes in two important categories. Therefore, you, the player, performed more poorly than he did.

Ergo, the loss isn't on him. It's on you.


*There is a way to talk to a ref that is all about "working him.'' It's about befriending him, nudging him in your direction, positively influencing him in a way that - even subconsciously - causes him to see you, the player, as ally and not enemy.

Historically in Dallas, coaches Don Nelson and Rick Carlisle have been skilled at that. Jason Kidd was brilliant in that regard. So was Tyson Chandler. Dirk Nowitzki learned to be.

RELATED: Luka's Mavs Are Enduring 'Growing Pains'

They constantly-yapping, shoulder-shrugging, eye-rolling Luka Doncic? 

Not so much.

DONUT 6: BETTER REFS ON SUNDAY? You'l notice that in Sunday's meeting with the Suns, the Mavs bitched just a little bit less. 

Is that because the refs were better than they were on Friday? 

Or is it because the Mavs were better than they were on Friday?

And had Dallas won, would the Mavs have bitched even less than they did?

DONUT 7 DAIRY QUEEN DAYS Even superfan-turned-owner Mark Cuban lived through a trial-by-fire with the refs - and I'm not talking about the Dairy Queen-highlighted efforts to better the NBA refereeing system (which thanks to Cuban's push has worked). I'm talking about Cuban's presence "on the bench'' (as far as a ref's ears are concerned) - a perch from which for years he theatrically harpooned the zebras on seemingly every call that went against his "Boys in Blue.''

Late in what would be the 2010-11 championship season, Nowitzki and others convinced Tony Cubes to tone down his criticism a bit, explaining that The No. 1 Mav antagonizing the refs might be influencing them into returning the favor (again, however subliminally) with their antagonistic whistles.

The proof is in the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

DONUT 8: IT'S CATCHING Griping at the refs can be contagious. Luka is this team's top (bottom?) practitioner. But on Friday, frustrated especially by watching James Harden's sport-altering style create a 21-attempts march to the free-throw line, Porzingis and even the cool Dorian Finney-Smith often twisted their faces in anguish - and then positioned their anguished faces in the mugs of the zebras.

On Sunday, to some degree, Tim Hardaway Jr. joined the fray.

But take note of one measure of "balance'' in officiating: Free throws. The Suns went to the line 23 times, making 21. Dallas went to the line 37 times (!) and made 33.

A team that gets 40 out of one player (Luka) and 37 out of another (KP) shouldn't lose. A team that has double-digit leads in a bunch of games shouldn't lose 13 of those games. A team that is an impressive-enough 40-29 shouldn't be 2-10 in three-point games and 6-18 in five-point games.

The 2019-20 Dallas Mavericks are an Analytics Aberration. And as with the category of ""griping,'' the category of "failing'' is also contagious. Psychologically, physically, all of it.

DONUT 9: BY THE NUMBERS Oh, and what about Friday FTs?

Even with James Harden's maddening knack that helped Houston shoot 39 freebies, Dallas was allowed 38.

The difference - in the category and in the game - wasn't the "takes.'' It was the "makes.''

All in all, not a good enough reason to be developing a rep as a "whiny'' team.

DONUT 10: THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING I mentioned above Nellie, Carlisle, Kidd, Chandler and Dirk. Each of those five guys have underwear older than Doncic. Meaning, he'll learn. Luka has a positive, enthusiastic and playful personality with everyone ... except the you-know-who's. 

Get "positive, enthusiastic and playful'' with the you-know-who's and the positive results are likely to follow.

DONUT 11: WHAT'S ON TAP The Mavs take on the Sacramento Kings at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday. And they can also take something with them into basketball battle.

“Obviously, our goal was to make the playoffs and we achieved that,” Porzingis said. “We’re going to try to win every game we have left in the regular season. And then we’ll see where we end up.

“This is not a sprint. This is a marathon. These kind of games, we have to use them as fuel for us to keep working and keep getting better. . This is part of the process. We’re going to get through this and get better and won’t let these things happen again.”

DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD “We just have to stay calm in those situations. That’s us as a team, that’s got to be our mindset. There are going to be mistakes from the officials, the same way we make mistakes but we just got to play through it and be a team that’s least affected by it.” - Kristaps Porzingis.