Dallas Mavericks: Road Woes Against Best in the West

Luka Doncic continues to show why he is worth it! Photo Courtesy: Dominic Ceraldi

By Joel Montgomery

With Christmas right around the corner, the Mavericks hope to finish off 2018 strong and bounce back after missing their last two from the past week. On the road often recently and in the immediate future, the team had some tough inter-conference matchups against these teams and their fanbases:
@ Denver Nuggets (12/18)
Tuesday night, the Mavs traveled to Colorado to face a surging Nuggets team who have been at the top of their game lately, holding first place in the Western Conference currently. In a contest where offenses shined, Dallas simply couldn’t keep up with Denver’s firepower. 
Nuggets’ top dog Nikola Jokic continued to prove his newfound dominance in the league with his 32 points and 16 rebounds, in a game where he showcased his potential as a fearsome paint presence rather than his usual distribution role. Jamal Murray finished with an impressive line of 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 15 assists.
Dallas was able to get its offense going from its key pieces, but it was quality out of few compared to Denver. Harrison Barnes notched 30 points in the loss, while rookie Luka Doncic racked 23 points, 6 rebounds, and 12 assists. Doncic shared the rock with aplomb and it shows in the box score, unfortunately it wasn’t enough to hold with the conference’s current throne-holder.
FINAL: Denver 126 (21-9), Dallas 118 (15-14)
@ Los Angeles Clippers (12/20)
Facing a team who has had a surprising start to their season, the Clippers seemed to have yet another offense Dallas couldn’t seem to prepare for coming in. LA got an early lead and held it, getting some good output from their ace players. Danilo Gallinari finished with 32 points, and Lou Williams had 26 of his own.
For Dallas, only Doncic could really get it going offensively, scoring 32 points in yet another great outing. Doncic’s path to Rookie of the Year has been looking as clear as ever, as he continues to shine despite Dallas’ recent struggles. J.J. Barea had 19 points and 8 assists in a solid game as the team’s sixth man.
FINAL: Los Angeles 125 (18-13), Dallas 121 (15-15) 
@ Golden State Warriors (12/22)
The Mavs traveled to the Oracle on Saturday night to face a struggling Warriors team, who have shown their first true vulnerability since acquiring Kevin Durant. We’ll see how much it means when they get DeMarcus Cousins in the line up finally, but as of now there are no worries from anyone for when that time inevitably comes.
Despite Golden State’s recent struggles, they were able to have a bounceback game at the expense of Dallas. Kevin Durant took over with a near triple-double– coining 29 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 assists. Stephen Curry had 22 easy points of his own, and rookie Jonas Jerebko surprised with 23. When Dirk was the paint defender, Jerebko was able to easily get his numbers up, exposing Nowitzki’s clear liability on the defensive side. Draymond Green finally had a solid performance after abnormal personal struggles, finishing with 14 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists. Unfortunately, Klay Thompson’s struggles still continued, so the Warriors will need him back up to snuff come 2019 to make yet another playoff run.
While Dallas remained close for the entirety of the contest, they couldn’t finish the final push late to pull ahead. Golden State’s 36-point barrage in the 3rd quarter proved unrecoverable. Fortunately though, most of the team seemed to come back alive in this game with 8 players scoring double-digit points. Wesley Matthews was the high point man with 25 points, and DeAndre Jordan had 12 points and 23 rebounds. Luka finished with 19 on the offensive side. While yet another loss (their fifth straight), it was good to see the entire team show out against the defending champs.
FINAL: Golden State 120 (22-11), Dallas 116 (15-16)
 @ Portland Trail Blazers (12/23)
Traveling up a state in a back-to-back, Dallas found themselves in yet another tough road contest against a hungry Trail Blazers squad that’s been eager for vengeance since their first round exit last season. Currently sitting at 5th place in the conference, Portland has been on a tear of their own as of late after some early season troubles. Their backcourt is now in full swing, with star Damian Lillard finishing with 33 points and 7 assists; C.J. McCollum with 22 points, and 5 boards and assists. In his return against the Mavs, Seth Curry had 12 points. While sad to see him in another uniform, it’s great to see Curry healthy and on the court.
Harrison Barnes led Dallas with 27 points, but Luka Doncic shined for Dallas in this close battle. He drained a catch and shoot fadeaway three-pointer at the end of regulation to send it into overtime. Unfortunately, the fantastic play ended in vain as Portland ended up pulling out the win. It did at least show that Luka is ALREADY eager to be the guy that can tug the Mavs through scenarios like this. Despite the game resulting in Dallas’ losing streak now being at six, there was a lot of positive to take from it, particularly out of rookies Doncic and Brunson (whose been getting more minutes recently). Luka finished with 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 dimes.
FINAL: Portland 121 (19-14), Dallas 118 (15-17)
Now at a 6-game losing streak, not quite the Christmas wish Mavericks fans were probably looking for. Fortunately though, there was a lot of good to take out of the road trip, like Dallas being close in all of the contests despite them being consecutive road games against top opponents of the gruesome West. Furthermore, Luka showed off his continuous prowess and now his clutch factor, and other rookie Jalen Brunson showed some improvement from all fronts. 
Dallas is now done with games for a few days until after Christmas. With this road trip now ending, it’s time to bounce back and get back into the playoff hunt. With the new year fast approaching, the Mavs still have some challenging matchups against two more solid squads out of the Western Conference.
Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central 
12/26 vs Pelicans      7:30 p.m.
12/28  @ Pelicans     7:00 p.m.
12/30 vs Thunder     6:00 p.m.
12/31  @ Thunder     7:00 p.m.