by mavsluvr at 01-05-2021, 01:51 AM
MAVERICKS MORE THAN A MATCH FOR ROCKETS


Woo-hoo! Any night when the Mavs beat the Rockets is a great night! After a mediocre game against Chicago, our guys came back with a vengeance, and won a decisive victory over a quality opponent. 


GAME STORY

Luka returned from his night off, and his left quad looked to have made a quick recovery. Danuel House was out for Houston, but James Harden re-entered the fray after missing the previous game. 

Rick decided a change in the starting lineup was in order, and Willie and Maxi came on in place of Powell and Tim. Boucek said they thought they needed a bigger squad against the Rox, and also wanted to emphasize defense, rebounding, versatility, quickness and switch-ability. Carlisle said that he took both Dwight and Tim out because if he removed only one of them, it would look too much like he was blaming that player for the problems, and that wasn’t the message he intended. I would venture to guess that he wanted to get Powell into a smaller role, and did it in this tactful way, but at any rate, the experiment was a success, at least for this game. 

The Mavs got off to a great start, taking the lead on a Doe-Doe and-one dunk, and never trailing again. They were ahead 33-21 after one. Luka was able to play all twelve minutes, and led all scorers with 12 points. 

The second period began with Boogie giving Willie a shove, and both players getting T’d up. During the next three minutes or so, Cousins was more or less destroying the Mavs with rebounds, blocks, and scores. At 9:07, he was annoyed at a non-call, and threw a dismissive arm in the referee’s direction, only to earn his second technical and an ejection! Personally, I thought it was a tad harsh, but I wasn’t complaining. 

Our team went on a tear of missing shots and turning the ball over right and left, and the lead dwindled to 2 at 6:53. The score remained close, until the Mavs went on a 14-6 run to close the half. The quarter was not lacking drama. Both Maxi and DFS were called for their third fouls before the period was up, and Coach Darrell Armstrong received a technical foul for some infraction from the bench.  Halftime score: Mavs 61, Rox 49. 

The third began with Willie throwing down two dunks from Luka and earning a trip to the free throw line. The lead was up to 18 at 10:07, but in the process, Maxi incurred his fourth foul. Harden joined the tech-fest at 10:07. By 5:22, the Mavs had committed 4 more turnovers, and the lead was down to 12. The refs invited Luka to the T party, I think for bumping his defender on a play. At 4:44, Powell had a nice block of a Harden floater from behind, followed by a steal. Unfortunately, the refs fingered Luka for an offensive foul, and the team couldn’t capitalize. 

James Johnson caught Tate in the face as he was going up for a basket, knocking his mouthpiece onto the floor. A review of the foul upgraded it to a flagrant 1. The Mavs missed some more shots, Josh had his fourth foul, and by 2:26, an 18-point lead had shriveled to 1. Fortunately, Dallas managed a 9-3 run to end the quarter. 84-77. I was on pins and needles, worried that the Mavs might squander their slender lead. 

The fourth began inauspiciously, with Burke fouling Eric Gordon on a late-clock shot thirty feet from the basket. Eric took advantage with three makes at the line. The Rockets tied the game at 10:00, and brought the score within 2 points at 6:41. Maxi committed his fifth foul at 4:13, and Josh fouled out in the last minute. But the Mavs closed the game strong, and the Rockets went cold. What a satisfying win!


NOTABLE ITEMS

Numbers. How great is it to see the Mavs make their shots?!! They boasted 53% shooting inside the arc, 41% from deep, and a stellar 95% from the line. Point differentials between the teams had Dallas +8 on points from twos, +15 on points from threes, and -10 on made free throws. Houston took 36 free throw attempts, compared to 20 for the Mavs, but the Rox missed seven of their freebies. The Mavs earned a 51-35 rebounding advantage, and scored 22 second-chance points, capitalizing on 9 of their 10 opportunities. On the dimmer side, Dallas had an uncharacteristic 18 turnovers, losing 23 points in the process. 

Doncic. LUKAAAAAA!!! The young star looked like he was back in form, and he put up his first triple-double of the season with 33 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 assists -- season highs in every category. Carlisle reminded everyone of the great work Luka has done getting his conditioning up to snuff, after coming in behind the curve due to not realizing the season was starting so early. Such an amazing performance! Not only did he have a great line, but he put in a good defensive shift. He was on Harden for stretches, and was up to the task. Luka, perhaps most of all, raises the play of his teammates, and if the Rockets didn’t know that before the game, they do now!

Hardaway. OMG! Who saw this coming after the Bulls game? Tim had 30 points off the bench, completing 11 of 14 shots (8 of 10  threes!), and bringing down 7 rebounds. He and Luka were there to get the team through so many tight spots, and Tim’s contribution was spectacular. He had many breathtaking shots -- I think my favorite was a leaning fallaway three at the end of the shot clock. Rick raved about him, calling his performance “tremendous,” “phenomenal,” and “terrific,” adding that it exhibited Tim’s “strong character.” He added that Hardaway had shown “laser-like concentration” and was “great at both ends.” Tim’s best game as a Mav that I can recall. Coach Boucek commended him for handling his assignment to the bench in a very professional manner, coming out aggressive, and being “awesome” all night long. She said that the Mavs want to play with both big and small lineups this season, and Tim fits in well with both. She added that someone besides Luka has to step up for the Mavs offensively in every game, and that the team had been able to ride Tim's hot hand in this match-up. 

Cauley-Stein. Willie was a revelation in his starting role, playing 24 minutes, and putting up 15 points and 7 boards. He was the lob partner that Luka has been missing, and ran the floor consistently. Coach Jenny (who worked with WCS in Sacramento) was very pleased, calling his play “fantastic,” and praising his physical game, rolling, running, and intensity. She described him as a “very intelligent man,” and revealed that he is a poet and an artist. She thinks he loves this unstructured style of play because it gives him a chance to express himself creatively.  Willie himself said the only way he knew he was starting was when Rick read out the lineups, and he didn’t know why Rick had made the change, but he had rolled with it, lol. 

Game Impacts. All of the starters, along with Tim, had positive +/- ratings, ranging from 15 to 28. The rest of the bench were in various degrees of negative territory, having played during most of the Houston runs. However, Carlisle thought Powell had been “terrific,” and the unit as a whole had “bent but not broken.” Leading scorers on the night were Luka 31, Tim 30, and Willie and Josh with 15 apiece. 

Rockets. This had to have been an embarrassing night for the Rox, but they were actually a worthy opponent. New center Christian Wood led their scorers with 23 points. Harden followed with 21, along with Gordon 20 and Wall 14. Boucek said they had a detailed game plan for this match. WCS said it involved guarding Harden “from the side,” so as to limit his trips to the free throw line. Tim said he didn’t want to get in trouble for divulging anything, and allowed that Harden probably “just had an off night,” lol. 

Referees. I never like to make the refs part of the story, but I think this case requires it. This was a very oddly officiated game. Six technical fouls were assessed, some of them seeming pretty soft. Offensive fouls were also being called all over the place, and the referees started calling the game much more strictly in an abrupt fashion after the double techs, although I wouldn't describe the play as especially chippy. Rick thought his guys adjusted well to the officiating, and Boucek thought they showed resilience in working through it. 


OBSERVATIONS

Rick thought the effort from the team was exceptional, and hinted that they were eager to redeem themselves after Chicago. He considered it a defensive accomplishment to hold the normally high-scoring Rockets to 100 points. He says defense is going to be their signature this season, and he thinks they took a step forward in this match, making a statement with their defensive disposition. 

I thought this game was a breath — make that a strong gust — of fresh air.  Luka looked like his old self, the team looked more like the successful Mavs, and the 48 minutes featured standout performances from several guys who had been struggling a bit. I was not quite sure what to make of the previous six games, but this one looked like something they can build on. YAY!!!!

See all you Maverick fans after the Denver game!! GO MAVS!!
by Kammrath at 01-04-2021, 10:35 PM
Who was the player of the game who elevated his play above normal to help the team win?
by dirkfansince1998 at 01-04-2021, 10:29 PM
No one that bashed him in the previous game thread deserves to celebrate the win today.
by mavsluvr at 01-04-2021, 12:21 AM
STARLESS MAVERICKS EXHIBIT LUSTRE-LESS PERFORMANCE
BRUNSON BRILLIANCE WASTED IN LOSS

The Mavs and their fans spent a night in Yucksville, trying to cope without their two stars. 

Shortly before game time, Luka was downgraded from doubtful to out with a left quad contusion suffered in the Miami game. KP continued on the injured list. The Bulls had virus problems, and counted Markannen, Satoransky, Hutchison, and Arcidiacono absent. 


GAME STORY

Neither team played particularly well, and they mostly exchanged scores and stops for the first 34 minutes. By that time, I don’t know whether the Mavs began to tire, or what, but their offense was stuck in the mud, and the defense did not pick up. The Bulls went up 86-81 after three, and continued to stay ahead of the hapless Mavs for the rest of the game. Dallas whittled the deficit down to 2 at the 3:27 mark, but let the game slip away with a variety of late mistakes. The Mavs missed 14 threes and 6 free throws in the final period, and had a 6-rebound disadvantage. 


NOTABLE ITEMS

1.  How They Lost. The loss came down to terrible three-point shooting (26%), 8 missed free throws for a 70% performance at the line, giving up 18 second-chance points, going stagnant late, and allowing 62 points by the Bulls’ starting backcourt. 

2.  Bright spots. Jalen took Luka’s place in the starting lineup, and took over well, particularly in the first three quarters. He had a career second-best scoring night with 31 points, and did it on 11-17 shooting. He faded somewhat in the stretch, but let’s not take away from one of the Mavs’ only bright spots on the night. He also had 7 assists, and would have had more if his teammates had hit the open shots generated. Maxi also had a good night, with 16 points off the bench and 3-6 from three. J Rich contributed a solid performance, as well. The high scorers were Brunson 31, Richardson and Maxi with 16 each, and Hardaway 13.

3.  Bulls. Zach Lavine put the hammer on the Mavs with 39 points, and his back-court mate Coby White added 23, coming alive in the second half. The Bulls as a whole made a lot of mistakes, and didn’t shoot very well either, but Dallas failed to capitalize on what was a middling Chicago performance, at best, overall. 


OBSERVATIONS

Carlisle allowed that the Bulls won because they played better than his team did. While admitting that Chicago made some “hellacious” shots, he observed that his Mavs “shot themselves in the foot” by failing to rebound, failing to recover 50-50 balls, and not hitting their free throws. He did give Brunson a shout-out, complimenting his point guard for being “always ready.” 

Willie gave a post-game interview, and said that it was easy to say that the Mavs should have recovered more 50-50 balls after a game, but that some of that is down to unlucky bounces and such during the contest. He did acknowledge that grabbing loose balls should be a matter of attention each and every game. He thought the loss was down to letting Zach Lavine get going early, and thought they should have given more focus to shutting him down. Brunson also answered a couple questions, and was hesitant to criticize his teammates, but admitted that the squad is capable of doing much better. 

I hope that we don’t have many of these games without both Luka and KP. Even apart from the result, there just wasn’t much snap, crackle, or pop in this game, despite some outstanding individual performances. I think there was probably something to Willie’s comments about LaVine — the Bulls had the best player on the floor, and that’s always a significant advantage in basketball. But I don’t know that there is much of a defense for the team’s lackluster performance in so many aspects of the game. 

Carlisle doesn’t think excuses should be made for the performance, so I won’t offer any. But if both Luka and KP are missing for any substantial period of the season at all, I will have to re-assess my evaluation of their likely success. Good health and a speedy return to both of them!

The Mavs now face Houston in a back-to-back. Yikes. Luka is day-to-day, so will be evaluated in the morning for availability in that match. Keeping my fingers crossed! 

Okay, Mavs fans. Let’s hope for the best against the Rockets. 
by mavsluvr at 01-02-2021, 12:53 AM
MAVERICKS DEFEAT MIAMI IN LOW-SCORING GAME

Well, you can win ‘em pretty, or you can win ‘em ugly, but they both count the same. The Mavs conducted a defensive battle with the Heat and lived to tell the tale, winning their first game with under 100 points in almost two years. All the MFFLs who were perched on the edge of the ledge after the Charlotte game can move back to a little safer ground. At least for now. 


GAME STORY

The Mavs entered the court looking spiffy in their new gold-and-white City jerseys. 

Both teams began the game in unprepossessing fashion, and the score was tied at only 5 apiece five minutes in. A timeout seemed to revive the squads a bit, and Dallas led 20-16 after twelve minutes. The offenses were not on fire, but the Mavs did well to attack when their shots weren't falling. Both teams combined to go 1-14 from deep. Yikes. 

James Johnson spent a spell leading the second unit to begin the next quarter. He was the leading scorer in the period, with 8 points. He had two quick threes to jumpstart the frame, a steal leading to a three from Doe-Doe, and a layup from Tim. Luka made the highlight reel with a foray into the paint, where he exhibited some fancy footwork dancing away from his defenders, and added a spin-fake and an up-and-under bucket, putting Adebayo in the blender. He also hit his first three in ages, and looked up at the heavens with an expression of profound relief and deep gratitude to the basketball gods. 

The Mavs put five threes on the board, but the Heat missed all of their long-range shots, ending the half 0-14 from three. On the last play of the half, the ref missed Luka getting clobbered at the rim. Luka gave said ref a piece of his mind, resulting in a T. He gave the advertising boarding a vicious kick on his way out of the gym. Woah. At any rate, the Heat managed only 15 points in the quarter, and the halftime score was a ludicrous 46-31.

Doe-Doe was called for his fourth foul about ten seconds into the third, and Powell ended his stint with his own fourth seven minutes in. The Heat came alive a little, and managed to get 22 points on the board, but the Mavs did them a little better with 27. Mavs led 73-53 after three. 

The Mavs appeared to tire in the fourth. They were up by 23 points at the 8:32 mark, but a combination of missed shots, turnovers, mistakes, and Avery Bradley laying 12 points on them reduced the lead to 9 with 1:11 left. I was on the verge of an apoplexy with flashbacks of all those surrendered leads from last season, but fortunately, the Mavs salvaged the win. Whew!


NOTABLE POINTS 

  1. Defense and Rebounding. The Mavs looked pretty good tonight, getting up into the Heat players, closing out on shooters, forcing turnovers, swarming, getting deflections,  and securing rebounds. Rick said the team had concentrated solely on attention to defensive detail over the past two days, and thinks it paid off.
2.  Shooting. The Mavs' win came down to out-shooting the Heat, but both teams were really pretty putrid when it came to putting the ball in the basket. The Mavericks were less than 50% inside the arc, 32% from three, and also missed six free throws for 74% at the line. The Heat’s loss came courtesy of a 7-33 performance from long range (21%), and seven missed free throws out of 25 attempts. 

3.  Hardaway. Tim led the team in minutes (39) and +/- (+17). Although his 18 points weren’t particularly efficient (6-18), he did have a nice mixture of threes and paint shots, scoring in both the half-court and transition. He also had a couple of steals, and some good defensive plays. In an unusual move, Rick ran him out for the entire fourth quarter, and his performance fell off some late. I know there are some MFFLs who are not especially admirers of THJ, but, while aspects of his game can be criticized, he is the one of three Mavs who are pretty dependably good for 15 points a night, and he is likely to be a key piece going forward.

4.  Doncic. Luka looked much more like the Luka of old than he did in the Hornets game, scoring his first double-double of the season with 27 points and 15 boards, to go with 7 assists. He was 9 of 22 from the field, but who's counting? He would have had an even bigger assist total, had his teammates managed to hit the numerous open looks he generated for them. After the game, he mentioned his happiness when that first three went in, lol. Rick says that his conditioning is improving, and Coach is playing him longer stretches. Tonight, he was able to play 36 minutes, and Rick noted that although he was tired, it will serve to make him stronger.

5.  Richardson. Josh had 11 points (5-10), but arguably made his most important contributions on the defensive end. A good part of the Heat failing to make their shots was down to his efforts. A great example of a player not having to pile up a lot of points to make a substantial impact on the game. 

6.  Powell.  I thought Dwight had his best game of the season. He took only one shot, but was the leading rebounder after Doncic, with 8 boards, all in the first half. He also had two steals and an effective defensive game. Good to see him take a step forward. 

7.  DFS.  Doe-Doe had 12 points on 5-8 shooting and grabbed five rebounds. He also defended well, and I think would have had an even bigger impact if he hadn’t gotten into foul trouble in the second and third quarters. 

8.  Johnson. Rick gave James a shout-out after the game, saying that he had a big impact off the bench with his unselfish play. He revealed that James is still not 100% with a lingering knee injury, but that he is a a “spirit guy,” a veteran leader, and a great addition to the team. James himself was asked to comment on Luka as a leader after the game. After giving it a minute’s thought, he said that Luka is an “emerging” leader, allowing that you can’t be the team leader if you’ve only been in the league for a couple of seasons — you need a veteran for that. Sounds like Rick thinks that James is that leader. 

9.  Heat. This was a long way from being the Heat’s finest hour, but the Mavs had something to do with that. Adebayo was their most impactful player, with 19 points and 11 boards. While we’re on the subject of the Heat, what’s with the names on this roster? Bam. Precious. Iggy. Sounds like a gol-dang nursery school team. 


OBSERVATIONS

Rick was pleased with his team’s “gritty” effort. He said the players are starting to realize that this season is going to be very different from last. They are not going to be setting offensive records right and left, and are going to have to rely on the attention to detail and the going above and beyond that it takes to have a championship mentality. As far as his outlook on the team’s progress, he observed that they have “shown up in two out of five games” and “haven’t done s___,” prompting an apology from the FSSW studio, lol. 

This win was far from beautiful, and they are going to have to play a lot better than this to be relevant, but I still liked it, at least sort of. There was a lot of determination and effort in evidence, and the players appeared to be communicating better and playing more as a collective. As Rick pointed out, the key will be maintaining that disposition consistently.

Neither the Mavs nor the Heat is likely to encounter this level of scoring drought very often, and to some degree, this is probably just another oddball result from a goofy early season. It's hard to know how much can be taken away from it. However, I think we saw improvement in several respects, and I like their chances of rounding into a squad that other teams won't want to face. 

Next stop, Chicago. Until then!
by Kammrath at 01-01-2021, 09:25 PM
Who was the player of the game who upped his game to help the team get the win?
by mavsluvr at 12-31-2020, 02:44 AM
MAVERICKS HUMBLED IN HOME OPENER

Whoo-ee. That was brutal. Just brutal. Did not see that coming. 

The young Hornets humiliated the Mavs on their home floor on a night where pretty much nothing went right for Dallas. 


GAME STORY

The Mavs got off to a half-decent start, even beginning the game 6-0. The Hornets fought back, and Dallas took what would turn out to be their last lead of the game on a Hardaway layup with 2:10 left in the first. Charlotte made a little run to close the quarter, and the Mavericks were down 29-36 after twelve minutes. 

The game was pretty close in the first half of the second, before the Hornets bench whooped up on the Mavs some, and took a 15-point lead. The home team hit a couple of threes, but gave up a pull-up to Rozier. They entered the locker room trailing 57-68. Some halftime commentators debated about whether the Mavs could climb out of the 11-point hole. They needn’t have worried. The worst was yet to come. 

The Hornets started the third with a 5-0 run, prompting Rick to call a timeout 40 seconds in. To no avail. Charlotte put 16 points on the board before the Mavs could score, and then just had a point on 1-4 free throws by Willie. With 5:11 left, Dallas had scored three points in the period and were down by 30. By the 2:56 mark, they reached a game-high 31-point deficit. They ended the frame with an ignominious 12 twelve points scored, as against 30 from their opponents. 69-98.

Dwight Powell and the reserves acquitted themselves decently in the fourth quarter, and the final scoreline of 99-118 actually flattered the Mavs. 


NOTABLE ITEMS

  1. General performance. I hardly know what to say. The Mavs just looked bad in every aspect of the game. Nothing like the team that blew out the Clippers on Sunday. Out of sync, poor body language, lack of attention to detail, looked like a pick-up game. I thought they might have turned a corner in Los Angeles, but it looks like they’re still trying to play themselves into a rhythm. After the game, one of the players said something to the effect that they are still working the kinks out, and that in a normal athletic year, they would still be in pre-season at this point. Probably something to that. It seems to be a factor around the league. 
2.  Passing. The Mavs have been trying to work on ball movement, and some nights go better than others. I have been hoping not to have to mention this, but there have really been some howlers when anybody and everybody fancies himself a facilitator. A few examples. WCS threw a football pass from his own goal line that sailed over Tim at midfield and landed somewhere in the opposite end zone. Yikes. Maxi was near the rim and had a shot, but instead attempted a no-look back pass to James Johnson in the corner. Hardaway threw from the three-point line all the way across the court into the stands. All three of these “plays” resulted in turnovers. And I’m sorry to say that these weren’t the only times these players have indulged in these on-court creative fantasies this season. I don’t discourage moving the ball, but maybe they should consider saving the flashy passes for guys who do that for a living. 

3.  Shooting. There was a lid on the basket for the Mavs in this one. They shot below 50% from inside the arc, 29% on threes, and a horrendous 58% from the line. This is compared to 56/41/81 from the Hornets. The Mavs got up 3 more shots, 8 more threes, and 12 more free throws than the opponents, but dismally failed to capitalize. The problem was widespread: Richardson 1-10; Burke 1-9; DFS 2-8; Brunson 5-13. Doe-Doe, Richardson, Luka, and Burke combined to go 2-21 from deep. The team took 33 free throws and missed 14. Yikes. I do have to say that the team was getting open shots, at least for a while, but not hitting the basket. So, at least the offense was working to a degree for a time. The leading scorers were: Hardaway 18, Brunson 16, Maxi and Luka 12 each. 

4. Possessions. The Hornets had a 50-39 rebounding advantage. Although the Mavs took pretty good care of the ball (14 turnovers) and forced 23 giveaways from Charlotte, their edge in points off turnovers was only 7 points. As for defense, they left it in Los Angeles. The Hornets had numerous open threes, and got to the rim at will. 

5. Hardaway. If there was a bright spot for the Mavs, it would have to be Tim. He was 7-10 from the floor, including 3-6 from three. He had a team-high 18 points, and also led the team in minutes (28). In his post-game interview, he said he thought the key to winning was to defend hard on every defensive possession and secure the rebound if one is available, which they didn't. He said they can’t control the score, but they can get out there and do their best every night, and they didn’t do that on this night. Said he can’t think of an excuse for the performance. 

6. Doncic. Luka had a 12/2/5 line with 3 turnovers, which is terrible by his high standards. Rick reminded us that he played only 24 minutes, but I don’t think Luka would want excuses made for him. It was painful to see him struggle. He was 0-5 from three, which brings him to 2-21 for the season. A couple of those were airballs. After the game, while people were giving their interviews, he was out on the court putting up shots. Afterward, he admitted that his legs are so “very tired.” Reporters peppered Rick with questions about what was wrong with Luka, and Rick became impatient at what he viewed as scapegoating. He acknowledged that Luka “doesn’t have his rhythm yet,” and predicts that his young star will be fine. In spite of a slow start, I agree with that. 

7.  Centers. The big men were underwhelming, despite the fact that they were opposing a smallish team. They combined for 28 points and a lame 14 rebounds. Powell had 9 points and 4 boards, but did most of his damage when the game was already out of reach. At one point, he went up for a dunk, but got fouled and had a wedgie, sending chills and thrills through wedgie aficionado Mark Followill. Maxi hit 4-5 threes in the first quarter, but never took another shot. WCS had 5 points and 3 rebounds in 9 minutes, was 1-4 from the line, and had 4 fouls in his brief time on the floor. Bobi had a mere cameo at the end.

8. Bench. Brunson did a good job leading the reserves in the fourth, and scored 11 points in the frame. Burke had 4 assists and 2 steals in 20 minutes, but was 1-9 from the floor. James Johnson was ejected after his second technical in the last three minutes of the game. He was T’d up before for some infraction on the bench. His second T was called as a result of a fracas with the Martin twins involving elbows, head butts, jawing, and scowls. Perhaps it’s just a small bump in the road in the context of the game, but technical fouls should be spent wisely, and one has to wonder whether they should be used on the bench and in the dying minutes of a game that has already been decided. Of course, I don't know the details of the provocations, and we may never find out. 

9. Hornets. The Hornets were substantial underdogs before the game started, and were supposed to be one of a couple of teams that the Mavs “should” beat in their first ten games. Coming off their 51-point slaughter of the Clippers, perhaps the Mavericks underestimated this young team. The Hornets, to their credit, played very hard on both ends of the court, and put together a respectable performance. Bench players LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges destroyed the Mavs, combining for 42 points and 24 rebounds. 


OBSERVATIONS

Rick termed the contest an “ugly game” and a “disappointing loss.” He thought his team got dominated in the first three quarters, and was proud of their fight back in the fourth. His takeaway was that you can’t play for 12 minutes of a 48-minute game and expect to win. He noted that the Mavs didn’t match the Hornets’ aggressiveness and physicality, and didn’t adjust by attacking the rim when their threes weren’t falling. He was very defensive of Luka, and I got the impression he was very much not enjoying the interview.

I don’t want to make any excuses for this lukewarm performance, and I don’t. I do note, however, that there is a lot of this going around the league. Lower-tier teams decisively beating favorites, blowouts everywhere you look, and very little consistency. I think, from an overall league perspective, this may just be what you get with a very short training camp and almost no offseason. A lot of bad basketball, as teams play their way into shape. 

This was a disappointing loss, and although we should take it seriously, I don’t think we should overreact and go jumping off bridges over it. The team looked very good just a few days ago, and that is something to build on. It is clear from the first four games that this group are a ways off from having settled into an identity at this point, and over the next few weeks, we’ll be a witness to seeing them become who they are — a process that usually takes place behind the curtain in pre-season. 

I don’t take too much away from this game, one way or another. Better times are coming. They have to be. 

The Mavs play the Heat next, on Friday. Meanwhile, HAPPY NEW YEAR to all the MFFLs!!!
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