Dallas Mavericks: Experiencing Growing Pains

Dennis Smith Jr. continues to learn the game as his first NBA season progresses. Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch
Dennis Smith Jr. continues to learn the game as his first NBA season progresses.
Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch
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By Joel Montgomery

After a good looking start to the week of basketball, the Dallas Mavericks then followed that with another skid that has the team struggling to grasp any league-wide relevance as the All-Star Weekend draws near.

Starting with a 3-game home stand, the Mavericks were looking positive with a big 98-75 win over a Washington Wizards team that has been in panic mode this season due to chemistry issues among John Wall and the rest of the team. Whether or not that organization will be able to fix things without some major changes, has yet to be seen. Dallas was led by Harrison Barnes’ 20 point and 10 rebound double-double in this easy win that they cruised in throughout.

Hosting the Rockets on Wednesday brought an offensive fury that’s little like anything the Mavs have faced this season, and the firepower of Houston’s three point marksmen pretty much settled this game after a 38-point first quarter. The entire game, the Mavericks stayed behind and only made the final box score not look too bad due to garbage time. James Harden led the Rockets with his 25 points and Dallas by Wesley Matthews in a 29 point outing. Usually uncharted territory for Matthews unless he’s super hot, but it was to no avail in the 104-97 loss.

The Mavericks hosted the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night primetime, as Damien Lillard (29 pts) and company once again torched the Mavs for the second consecutive week. Portland mainly cruised through their starting 5’s superior talent, and Dallas’ primary scorers failed to make any noise in this tough 107-93 loss.

Traveling to Denver on Saturday brought misfortune in a more heartbreaking light for the Mavericks in this contest as they lost at a very close margin of 2. In the 91-89 loss, defense was key. While Dallas stepped it up in the 3rd quarter, Denver did it when it mattered most in the 4th, holding the Mavs to 15 points in the period and overcoming an 8-point deficit. Nikola Jokic’s triple double 11 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists showed the skilled big man’s immense potential isn’t overstated. Dennis Smith Jr. struggled in this contest with only 13 points to go with his 6 rebounds and assists, and with experience he’s going to need to improve his closing game when it comes to winning tight finishes.

The Mavericks traveled back home on Monday night and were met with more offensive woes as the team wasn’t even able to cross the 90 point mark against the Heat. In a dominant performance by Hassan Whiteside, he notched 25 points and nabbed 14 rebounds as he absolutely terrorized the paint for Miami. Dallas was again led by Harrison Barnes who had 20 points. When the team overall (and Barnes especially) can’t put the ball in the hoop consistently, it’s going to spell trouble consistently for sure.

After losing their last four, and seven of their last eight, the Mavericks look to turn things around as we enter February and the NBA All-Star Weekend is practically within reach. However, at a 16-35 record on the year, it’s looking certain that playoffs won’t be on the menu for Dallas fans this season. However that doesn’t stop us from continuing to track the development of the team’s young pieces and if the team decides to make any moves before the imminent trade deadline.
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