The Dallas Mavericks blew a 22-point third-quarter lead in their season-opening loss to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night. Superstar Luka Doncic had 35 points in 37 minutes, but it was not enough as the Suns closed strong to pick up the 107-105 victory and exact a small bit of revenge from last year’s postseason.
Dallas started the game hot as Luka had 13 of the team’s 32 points in the first quarter. They expanded the edge to 17 at halftime, but things unraveled in the third quarter, and the Suns completed the comeback in the fourth.
The Mavericks' heartbreaking loss coupled with it being a one-game sample has some fans panicked. Dorian Finney-Smith struggled, Tim Hardaway Jr. could not find his shot, Christian Wood got benched after scoring 16 straight points, and the team missed 13 free throws. All caused some worry, but should supporters be panicked or patient?
Patience on Christian Wood not playing in the Dallas Mavericks closing lineup
Fans were outraged that head coach Jason Kidd took C-Wood out of the game after he scored 16 straight points to put the Mavs up 93-78 with 8:31 left in the game. The 6’10 forward was white hot, but Kidd opted for Maxi Kleber’s defense as they looked to close things out.
Wood got back on the floor in the final minutes before again being subbed out. Fans saw that the big man adds a new dimension to the Mavericks' offense, and they should give it time. He is still earning the trust of the coaching staff, and fans should expect his minutes to rise as he learns the team’s defensive scheme.
Christian Wood was not part of the closing lineup in the season opener, but he will be soon enough. The 27-year-old raises the Mavericks' ceiling, and Dallas needs him to produce monster numbers if they are going to make another deep playoff run as currently constructed.