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Mavericks Overpowered by Cavaliers

Sports

Dallas Mavericks were outmatched by the Cleveland Cavaliers | Image by Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks were outmatched by the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night at American Airlines Center, falling 105-90.

The Mavericks fell into a 16-2 hole before they knew what hit them. Dallas (14-14) did rally to get within 34-30, but Cleveland (18-11) responded with a 17-0 run to assert control of the game.

Luka Doncic struggled in the first half, with the Cavaliers double-teaming him. Doncic was limited to 11 points in the first half on 4-of-13 shooting as Dallas as a team shot 35%.

In the second half, the Cavaliers led by as many as 23 points, then withstood Mavericks rallies that twice whittled their deficit to nine (74-65 and 91-82).

Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell answered Dallas’ fourth-quarter surge with a three-pointer, and the Cavaliers led by at least ten the rest of the way. Mitchell had 34 points on 13-of-20 shooting and 6-of-9 from the three-point range as Cleveland shot 53%.

Doncic fought his way to 30 points against the NBA’s No.2 defense to break Mark Aguirre’s 38-year-old Mavericks record with his 35th straight game of 20 or more points.

But Christian Wood was the most consistent Mavericks player throughout the game. Dallas was plus-nine in Wood’s 35 minutes on the court and minus-24 in the other 13 minutes with him on the bench.

Wood connected on four three-pointers and finished with 20 points. He was a significant reason the Mavericks scored 24 of the first 34 third-quarter points as the sixth-man started the second half.

WHAT TO KNOW

Wednesday’s game was the first for the Mavericks in what might be a prolonged stretch without Maxi Kleber, and his absence was felt.

Kleber suffered a tear of his right hamstring at practice on Tuesday, December 13, and head coach Jason Kidd said there is no timetable for his return.

Though Kleber only averages 6.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, Dallas will sorely miss his energy and defensive versatility. The Mavericks are 1-5 without Kleber this season.

Without the 6-10 Kleber, Dallas was dominated in the paint by Cleveland’s big man duo in 6-11 center Jarrett Allen and 7-foot forward Evan Mobley.

Allen and Mobley led the Cavalier’s dominance in paint scoring (52-26) and rebounding (43-33).

“They’re a really good team, man,” said Doncic. “They have two seven-footers in the paint, which is tough to get into the paint … They have a pretty big team and a great team.”

BY THE NUMBERS

Reggie Bullock started the season incredibly cold, but he is quietly 8-of-12 on threes over his last four games. His defense has also come to life as Bullock was the primary defender on Mitchell for most of the second half, and Mitchell only scored nine second-half points.

In contrast, Tim Hardaway Jr. has cooled down after a five-game stretch where he drilled 30 three-pointers. Hardaway has shot 11-of-35 (31.4%) from three in the last four games, and the Mavericks are 1-3 in those games.

WHO SAID?

Mitchell was facing the Mavericks for the first time since a playoff loss to Dallas last season effectively ended his time with the Utah Jazz.

The Jazz lost to Dallas 98-96 at home in Game 6 of the first round in the Western Conference, then Mitchell was traded to the Cavaliers in a blockbuster summer trade.

“It could have been anybody,” Mitchell said. “I think for me it’s just understanding at the end of the day, they’re kind of the reason I’m in Cleveland. So I’m thankful I’m here. I’m glad to be here.”

NEXT UP

After hosting the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, the Mavericks will get a chance to avenge Wednesday’s loss as they face the Cavaliers the following night in Cleveland.

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