Photo Credit: @dallasmavs twitter
On Wednesday, The Dallas Mavericks played the Charlotte Hornets in the first game at the American Airlines Center this season following their tough three game road trip. The Mavericks are coming off an historic victory in which they beat the Los Angeles Clippers by 51, which is the second most margin of victory in Mavericks history. The Mavericks look to keep their momentum going and get back to .500 on the season. This is the first home game at the American Airlines Center since the tragic day of March 11th, 2019 and it’s great to have basketball return to the American Airlines Center as we await word when fans will be allowed in the arena.
On Sunday, the Mavericks played extraordinary basketball in which they shot nearly 60% at halftime to take a 50 point lead, which is the largest halftime lead in NBA history. The Mavericks were moving the ball and getting everyone involved in the offense, which resulted in a blowout against the Clippers without Kawhi Leonard. The Mavericks fixed their defensive struggles by boxing out and preventing second chance points that costed them wins in the first two games of the season. The Mavericks are looking to continue to shoot well in a matchup against the Hornets.
The Charlotte Hornets are coming into this game also notching their first win of the season as they beat the Brooklyn Nets 106-104. Gordon Hayward led the way with 28 points while Terry Rozier added 19 points including two clutch free-throws that sealed the win late in the game. The Hornets are looking to make some noise in the wide open Eastern Conference as they made some key acquisitions including signing Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $120 million contract that caught everyone by surprise. They also added LaMelo Ball with the third overall pick in this year’s draft looking to improve the offense, so far Ball has gotten off to a slower start than many people predicted. The Charlotte Hornets last made the playoffs in 2016, when they lost in the first round and are hoping to end the four year playoff drought.
Entering this game versus the Hornets, the Mavericks split their series 1-1 last season with the Mavs winning the most recent matchup. The Mavericks will meet these Hornets again on January 15th, 2021 in Charlotte. Luka Doncic averaged 39 points per game in his only appearance versus the Hornets last season while Terry Rozier averaged 22 points per game in the two meetings against the Mavericks. Overall, the Mavericks have taken three of the last four meetings with most notably Luka Doncic scoring a 39-point triple-double in a overtime loss to Charlotte which the most points scored by a Maverick against Charlotte in team history. The Mavericks lead the all-time series by a record of 40-19.
The Mavericks started this game, where they left off by going on a 8-2 run in the early stages of the first quarter before the Hornets went on a 7-0 run of their own to take an early 9-8 lead. A Trey Burke alley-oop to Josh Richardson on the fast break gave the Mavericks a 14-11 lead as this quarter featured a fast pace from both teams to start the game. Since an 8-2 start from the Mavericks, the Hornets had out scored the Mavericks 14-6 to take a 16-14 lead before Rick Carlisle called timeout. Maxi Kleber made back-to-back threes in hopes on getting things going on offense. The Mavericks kept attacking and putting pressure on this Hornets defense finding easy buckets in the paint but it was the Mavericks defense allowing the Hornets to maintain with them. It would be the Hornets taking the first quarter 36-29 thanks to a late 7-0 run. Maxi Kleber stole the show in the first quarter for the Mavericks by draining four three-pointers that’s good enough for 12 points. Mikal Bridges was responsible for the Hornets leading after the first quarter by going perfect from the field for 11 points.
The Mavericks tried to keep up with the Hornets pace in the second quarter as they tried to make up some ground from the seven point deficit in the first quarter. The Hornets bench went on a tremendous run by going perfect 11-11 from the field for 35 points through two quarters of this game, it wouldn’t be until the 5:25 mark of the second quarter where the Hornets bench would miss their first shot of the game. The Mavericks simply had no answer for the Hornets fast pace as they struggled to find their offensive rhythm in the quarter. The Hornets would build their largest lead of the game up to this point by going up 14 points on these Mavericks late in the second quarter. The Mavericks simply went cold in this quarter as they were struggling to put the ball in the hoop. Late in the quarter, the Mavericks went on a mini 6-0 run to cut the lead to 11 points where it would stand 68-57 to end the half. The Mavericks couldn’t get anything going by shooting 9-21 (42.8%) in the quarter. The Mavericks look to have their hands full in this one as the Hornets bench came storming out in the first half for 42 points. LaMelo Ball would finish the half leading the Hornets in scoring for 15 points while Maxi Kleber keept the Mavericks in this one by scoring 12 points. The Mavericks again find themselves being out rebounded 22-17 in the half.
Coming out of the half, it would take only 42 seconds into the third quarter for Rick Carlisle to call a timeout as he saw the deficit blossom to 16 points thanks to a Hornets 5-0 run to begin the quarter. The Mavericks would miss their first seven shots as someone decided to put a lid on the rim as the deficit grew to 25 points. The Hornets went on a 14-0 run to begin this third quarter and it would take 3:42 minutes into the third quarter for the Mavericks to get their first point thanks to a Willie Cauley-Stein free-throw. The Mavericks finally got their first made field goal in the quarter with 6:54 left thanks to Luka Doncic making a driving layup. The Mavericks looked like someone stole their talents just like in Space Jam as nothing was going through the hoop. The Hornets took advantage of the Mavericks offensive woes by scoring 30 points in the third quarter. These Mavericks looked completely lost as you wouldn’t want to trust these Mavericks to find highway 183, that’s how lost they looked in this quarter. Someone told these Mavericks to keep shooting threes hoping one of them falls instead of attacking the paint where the chances are much easier. The only positive in the third quarter was a Maxi Kleber chase down block with 1:00 minute left in the quarter. The Mavericks only scored 12 points in the quarter by making only 4 shots total out of 24 for 16 percent. The quarter would thankfully end with the Hornets taking a 98-69 lead.
The Mavericks started the fourth quarter already out scored their third quarter total four minutes into the quarter as they hope to find something to carry into next game. The Hornets kept their foot on the gas as they want to show everyone what they are made of. With 3:40 left in the game, Rick Carlisle had seen enough by emptying out the Mavericks bench. At around 2:40 left in a blowout game, tempers would flare near the Mavericks bench with Cody Martin of the Hornets and James Johnson of the Mavericks exchanging some heated words. The result will wind up to be both players being ejected with Caleb Martin of the Hornets receiving a technical foul. As you could argue that this energy was far too late to bring in this game for the Mavericks.
This team looked lost and outplayed as this game was won at halftime. There was no energy and was simply going through the motions in this one hoping the ball would go through the hoop. The Mavericks can’t afford to play like this otherwise you can kiss the playoffs goodbye.
In the end, it was the Hornets that saw themselves victorious in this game by beating the Mavericks 118-99 to give the Mavericks their third loss of the season. These Hornets came to play while it looked like the Mavericks decided not to show up for this one. The Mavericks shot 34-87 (39.1%) from the field and 12-42 (28.6%) from behind the arc. It seemed like everything was a problem for the Mavericks as they struggled rebounding defensively and finding some rhythm on the offensive end. LaMelo Ball saw his best game of his career by scoring 22 points off the bench and coming one rebound shy of his first double-double. Tim Hardaway Jr led the way for the Mavericks by scoring 18 points on 7-10 shooting from the field.
The Mavericks will continue to play at the American Airlines Center when they host the Miami Heat on New Years Day. Hopefully the Mavericks will put some effort into this matchup. If the Mavericks have any New Years Resolution it would be to not play how they ended 2020.