Tuesday’s result - Memphis Grizzlies 133, Dallas Mavericks 104 - was about as low as Luka Doncic can go. But Mavs Donuts, and Luka Watch, hints at bigger and better …
DONUT 1: COMPREHENSIVE CATASTROPHE This was no fluke.
This was a shocking beatdown by a short-handed Grizzlies’ team that was playing the second night of a back-to-back, but also playing with more energy and desperation. Memphis – without star center Jonas Valanciunas – simply played harder, better. The Grizzlies earned the tipped rebounds, grabbed the loose balls and thoroughly embarrassed a Mavs team that came out flat in a situation that called for max effort.
Said coach Rick Carlisle, “I didn’t feel like there was a collective will to win for 48 minutes.”
DONUT 2: SURPRISING ROUT The 29-point defeat was Dallas’ largest since it lost by 31 to the Warriors on Feb. 4. With his team non-competitive, Carlisle waved the white flag and emptied the bench with eight minutes remaining.
DONUT 3: LOUSY LUKA You’ll be hard-pressed to find a worse game this season from Luka Doncic. In the same building where he hit his game-winning “Luka Leaner” April 14, he finished with more turnovers (five) than baskets (four). He front-rimmed a wide-open, one-foot bunny, clanged all four 3-pointers and twice was stripped of his dribble in the open court to fuel easy Memphis transition layups.
Conceded Doncic: “That game was obviously one of the worst I’ve ever played,” Doncic said. “I’ve got to be better than that.
“That game today is on me. I wasn’t here. I wasn’t myself.''
So … when would Luka return to “being himself”?
DONUT 4: BEST PLAYER ON THE COURT ... Memphis’ Dylan Brooks. He was passionate, borderline angry. He was committed. He was relentless, willing his team to play up-tempo. His steal-and-dunk from Luka pushed Memphis’ lead to 102-82 and sealed the deal early in the fourth.
There would need to be changes for Dallas’ second night of a B-2-B visit from the Pels.
DONUT 5: STAGNANT OFFENSE Also worth changing: Carlisle’s Tuesday move to insert Boban Marjanovic in the fourth quarter didn’t exactly spark his team. On one particularly ugly possession Boban got the ball on the low block and held it with one hand, but his four teammates all stood stationary beyond the 3-point line.
Not exactly how Carlisle – or any basketball coach – would draw it up.
So ... how about if Luka and company welcome back to the fold Kristaps Porzingis for the Wednesday visit from the Zion Williamson-less Pels?
DONUT 6: MAVS 125, PELS 107 This was a different Mavs team - the "Good Mavs.'' Porzingis was healthy enough to contribute in a big way. More on that later ...
And not to be taken for granted was the health of Doncic.
DONUT 7: SCARY SPILL Chasing his own clumsy turnover in Tuesday's loss, Doncic wound up diving over an advertising billboard and splatting hip-first onto a cement floor normally occupied by primo seats.
Good news: Luka only played 25 minutes. Bad news: At that moment, he was not 100-percent sure about playing against the Pelicans on Wednesday night in Dallas.
“We will see how it is (Wednesday),” he said.
Really ... the audio all by itself is scary ...
Breath = held.
DONUT 8: PERSONAL BEST! Luka, as it turned out, was so fine that he set a personal record for perimeter excellence in beating the Pels.
Doncic bounced back from his "worst game ever played'' as he tied a career-best 5 made 3-pointers in a single quarter during the second quarter. He went 7-of-13 from beyond the arc and totaled 33 points, with eight rebounds and eight assists.
DONUT 9: INJURY UPDATES While Kristaps Porzingis was back against New Orleans, the Mavs were without sharpshooter J.J. Redick after he re-injured his balky right heel in the second quarter - and that status now figures to continue at least until the start of the NBA Playoffs.
Tough deal. But maybe Redick is an "extra piece.'' KP? He's supposed to be foundational. And Porzingis after missing the previous seven games (and 10 of the previous 11) due to physical ailments, the 7-3 center/forward gave Dallas 19 points and four rebounds in just 22 minutes.
“I felt good right away,” Porzingis said. “I’m looking forward to peaking now, having these two or three games to really get my rhythm, make sure my legs are feeling good physically and be ready at the right time for the playoffs.”
DONUT 10: AH, THE PLAYOFFS The jousting for playoff position hasn't always been easy for the Mavs. But now? Dallas enters Thursday night's NBA action sitting (fairly) pretty at 41-29, needing one win (or a Lakers loss) in either of its final two, Friday at home against Toronto or Sunday at Minnesota in Game 72, to clinch the No. 6 spot in the West playoffs.
DONUT 11: QUOTABLE Mavs in sixth? Way preferable to the dopey play-in cluster below that. But Luka, interestingly, just wants IN.
“I remember when we were out of the (top-six) playoffs (chase) and now we’re battling for the playoff spot,” Doncic said. “I’m just happy to be there.”
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD We said, "No time to cry over spilled milk'' after Tuesday. The Mavs obviously agreed.
“This is all anybody’s talking about – the play-in,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “There’s so much talk about it, it’s permeated the Internet and the refuge is to play the games. And hopefully play them well.
“'(Tuesday) night we didn’t play well. (Wednesday) we played much better. We’re one step closer. We still have some level of control of our destiny. We obviously need one more to secure at least the sixth position. But there’s still a lot to be determined.”
And the person most in charge of "determining'' it? Luka Doncic, hoping to close out The Week That Was in style.