A Dallas Mavericks team with high playoff aspirations let a big game against the Los Angeles Lakers slip through their paws Friday night at American Airlines Center.
Before a sellout crowd of 20,358 and with a national TV audience watching on ESPN, the Mavs led by as much as 15 points, but made too many mistakes down the stretch and wound up losing to the Lakers, 119-110, in heart-breaking fashion in overtime. The loss dropped the Mavs to 3-2 going into Sunday’s 6:30 p.m. CT game in Cleveland.
The Mavs know they let the Lakers off the hook. The laundry list of miscues includes Dwight Powell missing one of two free throws with 6.4 seconds left in regulation – leaving the Mavs ahead by just three points instead of four.
Then the Mavs allowed Danny Green to get off a game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer that sent the game into overtime, tied at 103.
“I wanna say that it was a great game up to the end of regulation,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We didn’t execute a couple things and that’s totally on me, totally on me, so I take responsibility for them getting the three at the end.
“And we didn’t respond well in overtime, obviously. But they have a lot of great players.”
One of the Mavs’ great players, Luka Doncic, was spectacular as he collected his second triple-double of the season and the 10th of his career, finishing with 31 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high 15 assists. But Doncic was battered so much that he required three stitches in the back of his head following the game, and he also said he went into concussion protocol during the game and again after the game.
“It was a physical game,” said Doncic, who was icing both the front and back of his head during the game. “I had a little headache for a few minutes, but I put some ice on it and then it was better.
“After I got hit and then after the game (I did the concussion protocol), so I did it twice. I think it was a great game to watch. We could have won that game.”
On Green’s game-tying 3-pointer, replays clearly showed Laker center Dwight Howard holding guard Seth Curry before Green released his shot, but no foul was called.
“We still had the game won at the end of the game and we made a lot of mistakes, and they didn’t make a call that they should have made, and Danny knocked down the shot,” Curry said. “A lot of stuff happened on that last play and we were all rattled going into that overtime and we couldn’t get it back together.
“We should have fouled on the catch when they got it in (bounds) – we had two opportunities to foul – we should have been switching everything. And even so, I know a play is coming and I’m on the play, I know exactly what’s going to happen and I’m still there to take away that pass from Danny. But (Howard) grabbed me and there was a no-call right in front of the officials, so it’s just unfortunate.”
With the Mavs obviously stung by the no-call, the Lakers went on to outscore them, 16-7, in the overtime session. LeBron James scored nine points in overtime and Anthony Davis scored six, while Doncic tallied all seven of the points the Mavs scored in the overtime session.
James wound up with 39 points, 12 rebounds and 16 assists, and Davis added 31 points and eight rebounds. Afterwards, James was gushing about the performance turned in by Doncic, while Davis commended the Mavs on their resiliency.
“We knew coming in it was going to be a tough game,” Davis said. “We just tried to lock it down one play at a time and we were able to do that and come up with a win.”
It was clear that the Mavs didn’t feel like they got their fair share of the 50-50 calls. Doncic spent an inordinate amount of time speaking to the officials during dead balls after finding himself on the floor more times than he cares to remember.
“I was upset, too,” Carlisle said. “But I’m not going to spend 50-grand to criticize. It just doesn’t make sense.
“These are hard games. I don’t know what else to say. They’re hard games and they’re very emotional and it’s tough when you think you’re getting hit but the whistle’s not blowing. It’s just difficult.”
This was indeed a gigantic missed opportunity for the Mavs, who led 51-36, with 2:58 left in the second quarter and 58-48 at the half. But the Lakers kept coming and managed to survive at the end.
With James heating up, the Lakers scored the first 10 points of the second half and eventually took a 63-61 lead with 8:34 to go in the third quarter when Avery Bradley converted a fast-break layup. But with Doncic doing some fancy work, the Mavs finished the quarter on a 21-11 run and carried an 85-76 lead into the fourth quarter.
During that run, Doncic, who already had a triple-double before the third quarter ended, distributed lob dunks to both Porzingis and Powell, and also fired in a 3-point basket.
Still, the Mavs didn’t make enough critical plays when it mattered most.
“We didn’t even play that well and we were still right there at the end to win it,” Porzingis said. “They’re a much more experienced team, they know how to close out the game, and we didn’t.
“We’re still learning, so it is what it is. We’ve got to learn from this one.”