Dallas Mavericks Fail to Extinguish Heat with Late Rally

DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 29: Harrison Barnes
DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 29: Harrison Barnes /

The Mavericks trimmed a gargantuan 18 point, 4th quarter deficit to just three with a 20-5 run, but ultimately succumbed to the Heat, 95-88.

The plot was all too familiar —fall behind to the brink of unwinnable circumstances, rally furiously with previously lacking shot-making and effort only to come up short in winning the game.

The defeat told the tale of the Mavericks 2018 season as the team suffered a far-and-away league leading 23rd loss by a margin of 7 or fewer points.

After grinding the lead down to just three points, the Mavs had a chance to keep it a one possession game with 30 seconds left. Unfortunately, James Johnson euro-stepped, found an open Dragic who laid it in after a suspicious shuffling of the feet.

Harrison Barnes paced the Mavericks with an empty 20 point, 2 rebound line while Wes Matthews continued his inspired month of January with 19 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. For the month, the former sharpshooter is averaging 16 points on a .438/.420/.800 shooting split.

Dennis Smith Jr. on the other hand, struggled mightily for the second night in a row. Faced with Miami’s stifling defense, the rookie mustered a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists but shot just 4-17 from the field.

Miami, led by Hassan Whiteside’s 25 point, 14 rebound performance, dominated the second and third quarters. After claiming the lead with less than 5 to go in the first half, the team never looked back. Aiding their effort was Josh Richardson (14 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 4 blocks) alongside Goran Dragic (13 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists).

Looking Ahead

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Although Dallas’ unsightly clutch record (7-26) is disheartening for fans, we have to applaud Mavericks’ effort and tenacity. So many times this season, the team could have given up and conceded but instead fought to make things interesting. Moving forward, this determination and grit can only bode well for the team’s development.

Furthermore, the team’s current struggles may truly be a blessing for the team’s long term prospects, given the loaded draft class coming up.

Turning to the upcoming trade season, Blake Griffin’s move to Detroit signaled the falling of the first domino.

Mark Cuban and the Mavericks might have selling moves of their own, given the team’s current position in the standings. This includes rumblings that Wes Matthews could be on the move should a first-rounder become available. Fans will have to wait and see how the roster shapes up following the February 8th trade deadline.

Next: Mohamed Bamba in Dallas?

NEXT UP: The Mavericks will travel to Phoenix to play Devin Booker and the Suns on Wednesday, January 31st. Tip off is at 8:30 CT.