Disengaged Mavericks defense against Lakers shows how much improvement Dallas needs
The Mavericks geared their offseason moves, and supposedly their training camp mentality, to becoming a tougher team, which certainly makes this humbling Christmas night between 138 and 115 a cause for concern.
For the time being, we’ll resist calling it alarming because a 2-0 season start is too early and too small a sample size to go that far. But when a team is outperformed on second chance points with an unprecedented 35-0, as Dallas did on Friday night, soul searching and possibly line-up changes are in order.
“I think we need to look in the mirror before our next game,” said security guard Josh Richardson.
The Mavericks, understandably, came to the Staples Center to challenge reigning NBA Champion Lakers and be re-introduced at Christmas for the first time in nine years.
But Dallas did little to impress, and the expected fireworks from LeBron James-Luka Doncic hissed. All of this pales in comparison to 56% Lakers shooting and Los Angeles’ rebound after rebound after rebound.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game where a team gave up a second chance of 35 points and got zero,” said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, who has “only” been in the NBA for more than 35 seasons . “It was obviously the story of the game. But we’re talking about being in a hit-first mode and we just weren’t. “
The Los Angeles win wasn’t shocking in itself, although Kristaps Porzingis was still on pause. But the gentle way in which Dallas succumbed was surprising, as defensive-minded players like Richardson and James Johnson and off-season draft pick Josh Green joined them.
The bout of the most valuable player candidates James and Doncic both had good enough numbers – Doncic finished with 27 points and seven assists, and James scored 22 points and had 10 assists.
But on a night when the Lakers beat Dallas 53-27, individual stats hardly mattered. Dallas’ rebound total was the lowest since 2011 by any Lakers opponent. Anthony Davis’ 28-point and 8-rebound attempt was just part of a rush in which the starters on the Los Angeles forecourt outdid Dallas 24-9.
“If we unpack, we’ll win the game,” said Doncic. “It’s that simple. I think we did some great things in defense, but in the end you have to be through with boxing. And we have to work on that. “
Sure, it’s more than just boxing, isn’t it?
“I think it’s about mentality and tenacity,” said Doncic. “It’s getting mental. When someone bounces back like this, you just have to unpack them no matter what. We have to work on it and we just have to get better. “
The Mavericks’ 0-2 start is their first since the start of the 2017/18 season with 0-4. It has a good chance of getting worse. Dallas will be staying in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon to face the Clippers.
“We didn’t show up as we should for 48 minutes,” said security guard Trey Burke. “It’s a championship team over there and we have another game like this on Sunday.
“Those first three games that we knew would be a challenge. We knew we would find out a lot about ourselves. Right now, I don’t think anyone is happy with what we’re seeing together as a team. “
Porzingis Update: Porzingis practiced and stepped up his activities on Christmas Eve, but Carlisle’s update didn’t sound like Porzingis’ return was near.
“At this point, I’m confident of saying it’s weeks, not months, but that’s all I’m going to tell you,” said Carlisle. “He had one day where he was playing 2v2 on half court and yesterday he was playing 4v4 for about 30 minutes, which is great.
“But he still has some way to go, and then we have to try to get him enough repetitions in a year when practice time is likely to be. I should say that getting good practice time will likely be more difficult as the schedule is done these days. But he’s doing better. “
KC Jones dies: The NBA mourned Celtic’s great KC Jones on Friday at the age of 88.
Among the sad ones was Carlisle, who played three seasons under Jones in Boston. When Carlisle and other members of the 1986 Boston Championship team heard of Jones’ death under Jones, they turned to each other.
Carlisle called Jones a wonderful man – and one of the few words.
“When he spoke, he was very present and his words always had meaning.” It’s an example that Carlisle says he tried to continue his two-decade career as a head coach.
“Make sure the things you say are relevant and meaningful,” Carlisle said. “And taking care of people. He was the guy you always knew cared about the guys he trained. He was just a very special person. “
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