The Dallas Mavericks six-game win streak ended Wednesday night in a nationally televised game at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The Mavericks struggled offensively in an uninspiring 108-85 loss to the New York Knicks. Dallas as a team went cold from the three-point range, making just 8-of-37 long-range attempts, while the Knicks made 12-of-27 three-pointers.
Dallas struggled to move the ball, finishing with 16 total assists after having 28 assists against the Chicago Bulls and 34 against the Houston Rockets, their previous two opponents. The Mavericks are now 2-11 in nationally televised games, compared to 20-8 in locally televised games.
Madison Square Garden has, historically, been good to Doncic. In 2019, Doncic had a signature career performance at the Garden, becoming the youngest player to record a triple-double in the renowned arena. However, Doncic could not find his shooting touch on Wednesday night, finishing with 21 points by making 8-of-23 shot attempts, including just 1-of-9 three-pointers.
“It’s always disappointing when you lose,” Doncic said postgame. “Especially here. Especially that way and, we were playing really good; so, that’s why, too.”
“I don’t think I was effective in any way today; so, that’s my bad this game. I played like, I’m not going to say the word, but, terrible. So, that’s on me,” Doncic continued.
During its six-game win streak, Dallas won by an average margin of almost 16 points and held five of the six opponents under 100 points. On Wednesday night against the Knicks, the Mavericks team did not resemble the team from the six-game winning streak.
The 23-point loss is Dallas’ first double-digit loss since losing by 13 points to the Indiana Pacers on December 13. It is the third-largest loss of the season for the Mavericks, behind a 31-point loss to the Denver Nuggets and a 26-point loss to the Atlanta Hawks, both of which happened in the first eight days of the season.
For once, Doncic did not appear to be the best young player on the court. This distinction belonged to New York’s third-year player, RJ Barrett, who the Mavericks struggled to defend as he poured in 32 points by making 13-of-22 shot attempts. Mitchell Robinson was impressive for the Knicks: he made 9-of-10 shot attempts to finish with 19 points.
Dallas (22-19) led just once during the game by a score of 8-7 in the game’s opening minutes. The score remained close for much of the first half, with the Mavericks trailing 47-42 with 2:49 left in the second quarter. Then, the Knicks (21-21) blew the game open by scoring 25 of the following 35 points. Dallas would not get closer than 14 points the rest of the game.
“I think we played down to their pace a little bit,” Mavericks Guard Jalen Brunson said postgame. “They’re generally a slower-paced team; and, I think we could have played a little faster, but, I mean, give them credit.”
In what was somewhat of a homecoming, Brunson finished with 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists. Brunson’s father, Rick, played for the Knicks in the late 90s and early 2000s.
Dallas was still without Head Coach Jason Kidd and second-leading scorer Kristaps Porzingis due to COVID-19 protocols. Kidd entered protocols on January 7, but Thursday marks ten days since Porzingis entered the protocols.
NBA protocols only call for a six-day quarantine for asymptomatic team members. Otherwise, a ten-day quarantine or two negative tests are required to return to the team, whichever comes first.
Acting Head Coach Sean Sweeney has said that Porzingis’ return is uncertain before their next game on the road Friday against the Memphis Grizzlies (29-14).