A season-worst, four-game losing strike is owned by the Dallas Mavericks, and superstar Luka Doncic is mighty peeved.
When it hosts the Phoenix Suns on Saturday in the first of two consecutive matches between the clubs, Dallas looks to halt its skid and lower the frustration level.
The last two Mavericks losses both came against the red-hot Utah Jazz, and the game barely qualified as a contest on Friday. After the opening period, Dallas trailed 37-12 and was behind by as many as 30 before 120-101 succumbed.
After Dallas’ 116-104 loss to the Jazz, Doncic was also upset Wednesday, and his personal frustration was a few octaves higher after the Friday game.
“Terrible. There’s really not much to say,” said Doncic of the results. “We’ve got to do something. This isn’t looking good. We’ve got to step up and talk to each other and play much better than this. It’s mostly effort.”
The boards and the perimeter featured areas in which Dallas was outworked by the Jazz. Utah had a rebounding advantage of 56-40 and made 20 of 48 3-point attempts, while Dallas only made 9 of 33 attempts.
In the eyes of Doncic, who doesn’t see a winning-type mentality five-plus weeks into the season, that isn’t good enough.
“Right now it’s looking like we don’t care, honestly, if we win games or not,” Doncic said of a disappointing 8-11 team. “We need more energy, more effort. Dive for every ball, box out. Everything. There’s a lot of things we can improve.”
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said, “This is a tough stretch. We got to fight through it. Right now, it is about sticking together and fighting our way through this thing.”
Doncic scored 25 points Friday, and over the past five games he has played well individually, scoring 30.4 over that stretch.
Teammate Kristaps Porzingis is one of the struggling Dallas stars. Over the past three games, he’s shot just 36 percent (18 of 50) and had just 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting on Friday.
For the fifth straight time, Phoenix will be trying to beat the Mavericks. The teams met in the season opener on Dec. 23 with the Suns claiming a 106-102 home victory.
For the fourth consecutive game, Phoenix will be without star guard Devin Booker (hamstring) as it begins a three-game road swing that includes a further game in Dallas on Monday before finishing on Wednesday in New Orleans.
As part of three straight losses before putting together a stellar 114-93 home triumph over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday, the Suns lost their first two games without Booker.
With 20 points, Mikal Bridges led the balanced attack as seven Suns scored in double digits. Phoenix had 34 assists on 41 goals from the field.
Suns coach Monty Williams said, “That’s the kind of basketball we want to play,” “That’s the level I’m going to hold the guys to — 34 assists, the ball movement, the player movement, that’s who we are. The balance was much better.”
Phoenix got a solid boost from Abdel Nader and Frank Kaminsky’s backups, who played 25 minutes each.
For his second straight double-digit outing, Nader scored a season-high 16 points. As he flirted with his first triple-double career, Kaminsky scored a season-best 12 points, matched his career high of 13 rebounds and had a career-best eight assists.
“Frank’s been amazing, making the job way easier for guys like myself,” Nader said of Kaminsky. “A big man with his head up and making those passes is huge.”
While scoring his fourth 20-point campaign effort, Bridges sunk 6 of 10 field-goal attempts. He made just 7 of 22 shots over the previous two games while averaging nine points.