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'No Luka, No Chance?': Mavs Drop to .500 in 97-90 Loss to Grizzlies

On the second night of a back-to-back, and while not having Luka Doncic or Kristaps Porzingis, the Dallas Mavericks lost their second consecutive game and fell to .500 on the season in a 97-90 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.

When it was announced earlier Friday that Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic would miss this game against the Memphis Grizzlies, you could reasonably assume that it would result in a second consecutive loss.

Indeed, that’s exactly what happened, as the out-manned Mavs lost to the Grizzlies in yet another defeat, 97-90. With the loss, Dallas falls to .500 on the season with an 11-11 record.

Is there a positive to find here? Coach Jason Kidd is trying ...

"I think when you look at it you can get discouraged, especially when you aren’t playing well at home on this stretch,'' he said. "But even with injuries and everything there is no excuse – it is next guy up. I think they are in a good place. This group has been together and been through a lot since the beginning of the season. I think with the mental part they are strong because it would have been easy for them to let go of the rope and have the built-in excuse that there was no Luka or KP and end up losing by 20.

"But those guys that were in uniform tonight fought and they gave themselves the chance to get back in the game.''

It is true; Dallas did not lose by 20.

While shooting 7-of-18 from the field, Tim Hardaway Jr. led the Mavs with 29 points and added seven rebounds as well. Jalen Brunson and Dorian Finney-Smith were the only other Mavericks to score in double-digits in this one with 15 and 14 points respectively. Dallas shot 33.7-percent from the field and 34.9-percent from the three-point line.

To add insult to injury, Dallas-Fort Worth local Desmond Bane, who the Mavs passed on in the 2020 NBA Draft for Josh Green at pick No. 18, scored a team-high 29 points for the Grizzlies while shooting 12-of-20 from the field, 4-of-6 from deep, and grabbing nine rebounds as well. Josh Green received a DNP-CD (Did Not Play - Coach's Decision). … and he let the Mavs know they made a big mistake afterwards.

“I'm not a guy that needs a bunch of extra motivation, but I'm definitely motivated to play against the organizations that passed on me,” said Bane after his career night.

“I mean, there's 29 of them. I went 30th, so every game, especially the ones like Dallas, the ones that I thought would be good fits and were showing me interest throughout the pre-draft process, right in my backyard. I love where I'm at, but if there was a No. 2, it probably would have been here. So I'm glad we got the win tonight, let me just say that."

“That’s on (the Mavs),” said Bane in response to Josh Green being a non-factor for Dallas so far. “That’s not on me.”

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If it hadn't been for a late shooting surge from Hardaway Jr. down the stretch, the final score of this one would've looked worse than it did. It was a matter of 'too little, too late' for Dallas.

The Mavs were also without Kristaps Porzingis on this night, but at least the team has shown that it is capable of winning a game or two this season if he sits. That scenario doesn’t exist for Dallas when Doncic has to sit, and that’s a problem that needs to be addressed by the front office this year.

Without being too hyperbolic here, it needs to be noted that this was also the second night of a back-to-back, and the Mavs got blown out the night before by a bad Pelicans team even with Doncic playing. … But if Doncic doesn’t play this season, the Mavs would have zero wins right now.

*The Grizzlies, who were missing their superstar point guard Ja Morant on Saturday night, haven’t been phased by his absence and have continued winning games. 

*The Clippers, who are without superstar Kawhi Leonard this season, have continued to win games and stay in the playoff picture without him. 

*The Nuggets, who have been as decimated by injuries as any team this season, have still been able to tread water and stay in the playoff hunt. Given, Denver has the reigning MVP in Nikola Jokic, but the even with all the mounting injuries to his teammates, including Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., Jokic is still getting more from the beat-up Denver roster than Dallas is from its near-fully healthy roster without Doncic or Porzingis.

The point is, this Mavs roster isn’t good enough to be a title contender, that much is obvious. Dallas, despite the ugly and inconsistent play, will still contend for the playoffs so long as Doncic doesn’t suffer any many injuries. 

Is that what the Mavs front office is content with, though? Just being a playoff contender? Or will there be more of an urgency to shake things up and try to build a title contender around Doncic while they still can? I guess we’ll find out the answer to that question soon enough if the Mavs keep playing mediocre basketball.

The Mavs will now get a few days off before a big home showdown with the star-studded Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night. Be sure to sign up for access to our virtual watch parties if you're interested!

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