Sunday, April 14 2024
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The Dallas Mavericks lost their third straight game, fifth in their last seven games, to the Phoenix Suns Wednesday night, where they blew a 16-point lead in the first half and wound up getting blown out 132-109. It was another dispiriting performance from the Mavericks, who have lost their last three games by an average point total of 16.3 points. Kyrie Irving was sidelined due to a right thumb sprain, so as we’ve seen so many times before Luka Doncic carried the brunt of the offensive workload, racking up 34 points while no other starter crossed the double-digit threshold. 

Tensions were high in what was one of the marquee matchups for NBA Rivalry Week, and it featured six combined technicals and one ejection of Mavericks’ forward Grant Williams. But there was another ejection that stirred up some emotion during the postgame press conference. Late in the third quarter at Dallas’ American Airlines Center, a fan wearing a Devin Booker jersey was heard yelling “Luka, you’re tired! Get your ass on the treadmill.” Doncic heard what the fan said, and shortly after the fan was asked to leave the game. When pressed about why in that moment he decided to get the fan ejected, Doncic said it was more than just that one comment.

“He was cursing me the whole first half, too,” Doncic told reporters.

When asked why he didn’t ask for the fan to be removed earlier, Doncic said that his intention is to never get fans ejected.

“I never would eject a fan, they pay for tickets, but I had enough,” Doncic said. “It was a little bit of frustration.”

Doncic didn’t go into specifics about what the fan said during the first half that built up enough frustration to ask for the fan to be removed, but it was evident that he was fed up with whatever the fan was saying to him.

The bigger issue here though is that the Mavericks have struggled to stay consistent after a strong opening to the season. Injuries haven’t helped, as Irving and Doncic have both missed time, as well as several role players, handicapping any chemistry the team can build. But that aside, the Mavericks still struggle to find consistent production from players outside of those two on a nightly basis. 

Tim Hardaway Jr. is playing himself into Sixth Man of the Year candidacy, and rookie center Dereck Lively II is looking like a cornerstone piece, but Dallas’ big free agency signing from this past summer, Grant Williams, has struggled significantly to make a real impact on either side of the ball. Josh Green’s development seems to be going backwards, and Jaden Hardy’s minutes are too inconsistent for him to really grow. Dante Exum and Derrick Jones Jr. have been pleasant surprises, but they shouldn’t be the third or fourth-best players on your team.

Then there’s the defense, which once again ranks near the bottom of the league — 21st to be exact — an issue that seemingly only can be fixed through a move at the trade deadline. It’s not all doom and gloom to be exact, Dallas is four games over .500, but if this team wants to stay competitive in the second half of the season and contend for a top-six spot in the postseason then it feels like a roster shakeup needs to happen at the trade deadline. 

Source: CBSSports.com

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