Dallas Mavericks Hurt Playoff Chances Further With Another Loss To Charlotte Hornets
The Dallas Mavericks aren’t helping themselves. Desperate for a win to keep their playoff chances alive, Dallas dropped their second game in a row to the Charlotte Hornets on the road, 110-104. Once again, the Mavericks looked lethargic and uninterested despite the urgency of their situation.
Dallas has lost four-straight games and is sitting in the eleventh seed in the Western Conference and out of the play-in tournament. With seven games left to play in the regular season, they are all must-win games. The question is not whether the Mavericks can muster the energy to compete and win; it’s whether they even care to try.
“I think it just comes down to looking at yourself in the mirror, at the end of the day and seeing what you can do to help the team,” Tim Hardaway Jr. said. “The desire to win has to be at an all-time high right now. Even being a couple of games out of the play-in — a couple more games out of not even being in the play-in — like I said, desire has to be at an all-time high right now.”
The desire Hardaway talks about wasn’t there in the first half against the Hornets. Like Friday night, Charlotte built a big first-half league that left the Mavericks scrambling and looking for answers. Answers have been in short supply for Dallas all season.
If there was a bright spot in Sunday’s game, it was the play of Luka Doncic. After going 0-6 from the floor and scoring just five points in the first quarter, the Mavericks’ star erupted in the second quarter and carried his uptick in offense into the second half of the game. He finished with 40 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.
However, Doncic also picked up his sixteenth technical foul of the season after arguing a call with an official. NBA rules stipulate that a player is automatically suspended without pay for one game once he receives his sixteenth technical foul during a regular season. The suspension comes at a time when Dallas can least afford not to have its best player.
“Hopefully, it’s rescinded,” Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd said. “Didn’t think it was warranted, but we’ll see what happens. If he is suspended, we have to move on with the next guy.”
The Mavericks have a quick turnaround. They will play the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis on Monday in the second game of their current five-game road trip through the Eastern Conference. The importance of these games cannot be overstated after Sunday’s loss to Charlotte.
The Mavericks remain outside the play-in tournament and must curb their four-game skid and start racking up wins. Three of the four teams in the play-in — the Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder — have tiebreakers over Dallas. However, the Mavs do own the tiebreaker with the Los Angeles Lakers.
It may not matter if the Lakers, who got LeBron James back from injury Sunday, keep winning and the Mavericks keep losing. Getting swept by the lottery-bound Hornets is a new and deserved low for Dallas. Nothing is working for the team right now; their effort and body language reveal it.
Dallas showed a fight in the second half of its games with Charlotte, but it couldn’t sustain the momentum. A committed effort to play hard, or lack thereof, has been a staple of this disappointing season, and right now, the Mavericks look like a team that either can’t play better or isn’t interested in trying.
“It’s just unfortunate that we let these two games go,” Kidd said. “So, we've got to figure out how to stop the bleeding.”