The Dallas Mavericks lost to the Houston Rockets 101-92 on Wednesday night at the American Airlines Center without Luka Doncic. The 23-year-old superstar rested on the second night of a back-to-back, after dazzling in 40 minutes to lift the Mavs over the rival LA Clippers. Doncic needed a night off, and facing the rebuilding Rockets seemed like the perfect time.
It was a night to forget for the Mavericks. They shot just 30.4 percent from the field, including going 12 of 55 from 3-point range. There were open looks, but the Mavs were not making them on the second night of a back-to-back after a hard-fought win. The Rockets also blocked 19 shots on Wednesday night, which was tied for the 14th most since the 1983-1984 season, per Stat Muse.
The loss to the Rockets was a microcosm of what happens to the Mavs whenever Luka Doncic sits, even just for a short rest. The team struggles in three areas that needed to be addressed before February’s trade deadline, and here is a closer look.
Dallas Mavericks issue without Luka Doncic: 3. Scoring
The Mavs only scored 92 points on Wednesday night without the league’s leading scorer. Doncic is not just an elite scorer. He also leads the NBA in usage and time of possession. The 23-year-old superstar always has the ball in his hands, but it is mostly out of necessity.
The Mavericks score 117.1 points per 100 possessions with Luka Doncic on the floor, according to Cleaning the Glass, and that number drops to 101.9 with number 77 on the bench. He is an elite scorer and the best shot-creator in the league, and Spencer Dinwiddie is the only other player that can create shots for the Mavs.
Dallas is going to struggle to score whenever Doncic sits because teams just need to force Dinwiddie to give it up and put bodies on Tim Hardaway Jr. and Christian Wood. THJ is still working his way back from last season’s foot surgery, and Wood is still finding his role with the team. Both were outstanding on Wednesday night, and the Mavericks only score 92 points.
The Mavs need another player capable of getting at least 12 to 15 points every game. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, Dallas just needs more offensive punch whenever Doncic is not on the floor.