Upon further review of the National Basketball Association’s official rules, trailing after the first quarter is not a requirement for winning in the NBA.
Someone should tell the Dallas Mavericks.
For the seventh time in nine games this season, the Mavs found themselves behind after 12 minutes.
They’ve won only one of those games.
Friday would not be one as Dallas fell behind 17-7 midway through the quarter and was behind 33-27 after the first in what would prove to be its ugliest home loss of the season, 118-106, to the New York Knicks at the American Airlines Center.
Luka Doncic and Wesley Matthews were both held scoreless in that frame for the Mavs, which (2-7) have now lost six in a row. They’ll look to snap that streak on Tuesday at home against Washington. This was New York’s first road win of the season.
“It starts with me. I take responsibility for this game and the way our team’s struggling,” Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle said. “I’m the leader of this thing and I’ve got to do a better job of getting these guys playing harder, playing more together. What we did tonight was very disappointing. The last couple of games have been well-contested at the end. Tonight, the whole second half was dismal.”
The cure to these slow starts, according to what Carlisle said after a loss to Utah on Oct. 28, was to “play with a lot of force, especially defensively.” Dallas did a little of that in the second quarter, outscoring the Knicks, 32-23, to take a 59-56 halftime lead.
But that all went out the window in the third quarter as the ever-dangerous trio of Tim Hardaway Jr., Mitchell Robinson, and Lance Thomas caught fire in a quarter won by the Kristaps Porzingis-less Knicks (3-6), 33-18.
“We did a very poor job containing defensively,” Carlisle said. “That’s the explanation. We’ve got to work to get better. We need practice time. There’s no excuse for any team to come through us the way they did. Give them credit. They attacked all night long. But our level of resistance has to be much, much higher.”
The biggest thorn in Dallas’ side in this one was undrafted rookie Allonzo Trier, who, along with Dennis Smith Jr., led all scorers with 23 points. He was 8-of-10 from the floor. New York, as a whole, shot 55 percent, which really irks Carlisle.
“There’s a certain pride that you have to have every night in this league, and tonight, in the second half, we just weren’t there the way we needed to be,” he said.
Mavs center DeAndre Jordan, who had four points and 10 rebounds, echoed those sentiments.
“We’ve got to play harder,” he said. “We’ve got to lock into attention to detail. We’ve just got to have some pride at this point.”
Dorian Finney-Smith contributed 19 points in 27 minutes, and also had a team-high two steals. Doncic ended up with 18 points, six assists, and nine rebounds. He also had four turnovers.
Harrison Barnes finished with 14 points but was only 1-of-7 from beyond the arc. As a team, Dallas was just 11-of-29 from deep.
When asked if the Mavs were playing hard enough to win right now, Carlisle responded, “The answer is obviously no. We have to get angry. We have to get more together and we have to have two great practice days.”