Luka Doncic heroics not enough as Dallas Mavericks lose crucial game to Hornets

Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic / Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks lost to the Charlotte Hornets 110-104 on Sunday afternoon, despite Luka Doncic going off for a 40-point double-double. The 24-year-old superstar was incredible in Charlotte, but the rest of the team did not step up, and it resulted in a second straight inexcusable loss to the Hornets.

Dallas had zero excuses on March 26. They were fully healthy for the first time since December, and the Hornets were without four key rotation players, including their star LaMelo Ball. Charlotte is eliminated from playoff contention, and the Mavericks needed the win to keep their hopes alive. Dallas entered the game in 11th in the Western Conference, and they must have every victory down the stretch just to advance to the Play-In Tournament.

Luka going off just was not enough in Charlotte. He did not get enough help as Dallas shot under 38.6 percent from the field and the same old problems persisted. Here is a closer look at Doncic’s wild night and what it means for the Mavericks.

Luka Doncic's heroics not enough as Dallas Mavericks lost a crucial game to Hornets

The Mavericks were down 18-5 midway through the first quarter. Dallas missed their first eight 3-pointers, and they were letting Charlotte dominate the paint again. Dallas trailed by 14 at the end of the first quarter after scoring just 16 points. Luka missed all six of his field goals and was visibly frustrated on the floor. He did go five of six from the foul line, but Charlotte was doubling and forcing him to give the ball up, and nobody else was stepping up and making shots.

Doncic got hot in the second quarter as he exploded for 16 points on six of seven shooting to help Dallas get back into the game. Number 77 found his jumper as he started to put on a show.

The Mavs went cold again to start the second half. Luka’s frustrations rose again as he picked up his 16th technical foul of the season arguing a no-call, which means he will be suspended for Monday’s game in Indiana unless the technical is rescinded by the league office.

Doncic had a 30-point double-double after 36 minutes, but the Mavericks were down nine. Charlotte had 20 rebound advantage over Dallas after three quarters on the strength of 14 offensive rebounds by the Hornets. Number 77 found his footing, but he was not getting enough help on Sunday afternoon.

The Mavericks took the lead in the fourth quarter, but the Hornets were the better team on Sunday afternoon. Luka finished with 40 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, two steals, and two blocks in 40 minutes of action, but it was not enough. The loss means Dallas remains 11th in the West and outside the postseason if the season ended today.

Charlotte was double-teaming often and forcing the ball out of Luka’s hands. Dallas traded for Kyrie Irving to step up in those moments, but the eight-time All-Star was just two of ten from the field after three quarters. In the most important game of the season, Irving had just 18 points on five of 15 shooting from the field, and the Mavs other three starters scored five total points.

The defense and rebounding were again problematic on Sunday afternoon. The Mavericks gave up way too many easy baskets and wide-open 3-pointers to the worst offense in the league. Gordon Hayward looked like an All-Star and second-chance points crushed Dallas. The Hornets swept the season series and send the Mavs playoff hopes packing with it. The Mavs have lost four straight and look headed for the lottery.

The Dallas Mavericks get zero time to rest as they travel to Indiana to face the Pacers on Monday night. They will be without Luka because of the suspension, and former Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle will have his Pacers ready. Can Dallas get a win on the second night of a back-to-back without their best player? Tune in to find out.

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