Double Vision in Phoenix

Last night the Dallas Mavericks entered their second game versus the Phoenix Suns, at Footprint Center, knowing for the second game in a row this season they would be without starter and All Star, Luka Doncic. In the last minute of their game against the Denver Nuggets on Monday night Doncic sprained his left knee and ankle. Starting in place of Doncic for both games against the Suns would be Jalen Brunson. Coming into Wednesday night’s game the Suns were on a 9 run win streak.

Wednesday, November 17th

In Wednesday night’s game Kristaps Porzingis scored the first 2 points down low and then the Mavs went on an 8-0 scoring run to open up the game. Not to be outdone, Deandre Ayton scored the first 2 points for the Suns and they followed this with a 7-0 scoring run making the score, 8-7. Frank Ntilikina gave the Mavs some much needed energy off the bench and helped the Mavs close out the quarter with only a 3 point deficit and a score of 22-25. 

The end of the third quarter offensively ended on a very optimistic note for the Mavs as they had back to back 3 pointers including one which was a buzzer beater making the score 73-68 going into the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter there were several defining moments that the momentum significantly shifted, one being the long stretch that Porzingis was on the bench. At the 7:08 minute mark Porzingis was subbed out for Dorian Finney-Smith when the Mavs lead and the score was 84-81. When he was put back into the game for Dwight Powell at the 4:18 minute mark the Suns led, and the score was 89-91. After a wild series, a Brunson layup tied the game at 96, where unfortunately the game took a turn in the Suns’ favor. A stolen pass intended for Porzingis (that may or may not have been a foul) led to a fast break which resulted in an Ayton dunk. This was followed by a great pass from Brunson to Reggie Bullock which should have resulted in an easy layup but Bullock was not able to finish at the rim. The Mavs lost this one 98-105.

Friday, November 19th

The first quarter of yesterday’s game was not controlled by one particular team but also resulted in the Mavs down by 3 points after a Porzingis 2 pointer, making the overall score 24-27. The Suns continued to build on their lead in the second quarter of the game. Around the 7 minute mark they went on an 11-2 scoring run for 3.5 minutes. Despite this, Dallas was able to stay in the game and when halftime came they only trailed by 4.

The Mavs especially gained momentum in the third quarter when Willie Cauley-Stein, Hardaway Jr., and Finney-Smith all hit three pointers throughout its duration. When the quarter concluded the Mavs had their first lead at the end of a quarter in this game, by a margin of 5 points. In the fourth quarter things went awry for the Mavs when the Suns went on a 12-0 scoring run, 5 of those points coming while Porzingis was on the bench. By time substitutions were made the Suns had already gotten into rhythm and Devin Booker was putting the final nail in the coffin with several jump shots. The Suns won 104-112.

The Pattern

In both games the Mavs started out strong but had epic collapses in the fourth quarter. In the first game the collapse came in the final minutes of the game and began because of a switch to zone at crucial moments and several errors in substitutions. The second game’s breakdown occurred much earlier in the fourth quarter but was just as evident and painful. This one was also due to substitution errors but more so on not being able to rely on players to make plays down the stretch. In both fourth quarters they allowed 37 and 33 points to be scored which will always undo any lead you accumulate prior to this, especially against a quality team like the Suns who reached the Finals last year. 

Going forward the Mavs are going to have to evaluate the best lineup combinations and how to manage minutes to not put themselves at a disadvantage during crunch time. Once you have the correct guys in the next challenge is getting them to step up throughout the game. Without Doncic, the Mavs drop to 2-6 over the last 2 seasons and the Suns advance to a 11 game win streak. The Suns have also won 8 of the last 8 matchups against the Mavs. 

The Dallas Mavericks will stay on the road and take on the Los Angeles Clippers next on Sunday at 2:30 CT.

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