Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks suffered another double-digit loss Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns. The Mavs had a 51-35 lead midway through the second quarter before the Suns turned things around in the second half.
Devin Booker torched the Dallas' defense, scoring 22 in the third quarter. The Suns shot 60 percent from the field against the Mavs and scored 58 points inside the paint.
Defense seems to be the problem for Dallas as they suffered their third-straight loss. The team currently ranks 20th in defensive rating and 24th in rebounds per game.
Suns star Kevin Durant praises Mavericks' Kyrie Irving: 'Most skilled ever'
Injuries are another concern for the team. Up-and-coming role player Dante Exum returned to action against the Suns after missing nine games with a sprain in his right foot. However, Kyrie Irving missed Wednesday's game with a thumb injury.
The Mavs guard is no stranger to getting hurt, as he missed 12 games last month with a right heel contusion. His absence has been a real struggle for Dallas. The team is 9-8 when Irving is out of the lineup and 15-12 when he suits up. There is no question Irving can make a big difference when healthy.
Kevin Durant knows the impact Irving can have on the court. The two were teammates with the Brooklyn Nets for three and a half seasons before Irving got traded.
Durant recently sat down to discuss Irving's work ethic and game in an exclusive interview with DallasBasketball.com's Grant Afseth. Durant had nothing but praise for his former teammate.
"I think he is the most skilled ever to play the game. I think that there's nothing he can't do with a basketball. So, it doesn't matter what setting it is. He could do same thing regardless if he's playing Team USA, NBA, NBA Finals, playoffs, Streetball, or Rec Ball. He can do it. He can play his game anywhere That's just a testament to how great he is and how hard he works. "- Kevin Durant
Irving has been nothing but sensational since being traded to Dallas. In his 20 games with the team following the trade last season, he averaged 27 points per game and shot 51 percent from the field.
This season, he has continued to elevate his game. Irving averages 25.2 points per game while shooting 41.1 percent from the 3-point line. He has also been solid defensively, averaging 1.3 steals a game.
Earlier this month, Irving played a pivotal role for the team as he stepped in Doncic's absence. During the week of January 11 to 15, Luka missed three games, and the Mavs relied on Irving. The Dallas guard delivered as he helped the team go 2-1. Irving had his best performance against the New York Knicks. He dropped in a double-double with 44 points and 10 assists.
Dallas must now rely on Irving to return to full strength and help the team snap a three-game losing streak. Irving is questionable to play against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.
For all the latest on Kyrie Irving and the Dallas Mavericks, stay tuned.