Dallas Mavericks playoff hopes dashed in inexcusable loss to shorthanded Hornets

Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks' playoff hopes took a massive hit as they lost to the Charlotte Hornets 117-109 on Friday night at the American Airlines Center. Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving both played. The Hornets are eliminated from playoff contention and were without LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Kelly Oubre Jr., and Cody Martin. Charlotte was also on the second night of a back-to-back and had lost five of their last six games, but none of it mattered on March 24.

To make matters worse, the Mavs could not get a stop against the worst offense in the league. Charlotte ranks 30th in offensive rating on the season, but they scored 69 in the first half and 95 after three quarters. The Hornets led by as many as 19 points, and they controlled the contest in Dallas on the second night of a back-to-back.

The Mavs slipped to 36-38 on the season, and they are currently outside the top ten in the Western Conference. There are games to finish tonight and the standings are jam-packed from sixth to 12th, but Dallas losing to Charlotte on their home floor could be what keeps them out of the postseason.

Dallas Mavericks playoff hopes dashed with inexcusable loss to shorthanded Hornets

The Mavericks made a comeback in the fourth quarter, but it was not enough. Charlotte got way too many easy baskets all night. Gordon Hayward and P.J. Washington were both fantastic as Dallas provided minimal resistance, especially at the rim.

Luka Doncic had another incredible performance in the loss as he went for 34 points, ten rebounds, and eight assists in 37 minutes of action. The 24-year-old struggled with his jumper for the second straight game since returning from a five-game absence with a thigh injury. Number 77 put on a show on the offensive end, but it just was not enough.

The Mavs looked like a team that thought they had this game won from the opening tipoff, but Charlotte had other ideas. With so many injuries, guys are fighting for jobs next season and their place in the NBA. The rebuilding Hornets looked like they wanted it more on March 24. Dallas was not locked in, especially on the defensive end, and it cost them on Friday night.

Dallas has lost three straight and slipped to 3-7 in the ten games that Doncic and Irving have played together. They look resigned to missing the postseason. The Mavericks had plenty of chances on Friday night on their home floor, but they just did not execute.

Kyrie Irving returned after a one-game absence with 18 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and one steal in 38 minutes of action. He made just six of his 16 field goals, including hitting one of eight from 3-point range in the Mavs worst loss of the year.

It was an embarrassing and soul-crushing defeat for the Mavs. They made just 25.0 percent from 3-point range on 36 attempts, missed six free throws, and could not protect the rim on March 24. It was the ugliest loss of the year, and it likely ended the Mavericks' season early.

It was ironic that Dennis Smith Jr. hit the game-clinching 3-pointer for Charlotte in the final seconds. He was a lottery pick by the Mavericks in 2017, but was traded to New York as Doncic ascended. DSJ has bounced around the league in recent years before catching on with the Hornets. He got the last laugh on the Mavs on March 24.

The Dallas Mavericks begin a five-game road trip on Sunday afternoon in Charlotte against these Hornets. Can they find a way to win on the road? The Hornets dominated the action on March 24, and it will be interesting to see how the Mavs respond as they travel east. Do not miss it.

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