The Dallas Mavericks made a furious fourth quarter comeback before falling to the Memphis Grizzlies on Dec. 4 as superstar Luka Doncic sat out with an ankle injury. Kristaps Porzingis and Willie Cauley-Stein joined him on the sideliens as Memphis never trailed on their way to a 97-90 win in Dallas. It was an ugly night for the Mavs as they just could not get their offense rolling.
Fans know that Luka is the team’s offensive engine, but they could not buy a bucket on Saturday night. The Mavs had to settle for jumpers, and they were not falling. Dallas had just 37 first-half points, and things did not improve much in the final 24 minutes. They did get to the inside more in the fourth quarter to cut into what as double-digit point lead for most of the game.
Credit the Grizzlies defense for forcing the Mavericks into tough contested jumpers, but Dallas’s poor roster construction also played a role. It was the fourth game without Luka this season, and the Mavs have scored under 100 points in three of them. Here is a look at their struggles, and why they need to upgrade their roster before the trade deadline.
Mavericks offense cannot find footing without Luka Doncic
Tim Hardaway Jr. lifted the Mavs back into the game in the fourth quarter as he put up 20 points in the final 12 minutes. He got to the line a few times, and that helped to get his jumpers to begin falling. THJ finished with 29 points, seven rebounds, and two steals against the Grizzlies, but it was just not enough.
Dallas had just three players in double figures on Saturday night, and the team connected on just 34.1 percent of their field goals. Open jumpers were difficult to come by and they struggled getting inside in the loss.
The Mavs share the ball when Doncic is on the sidelines, but they do not have a true lead ball-handler. Jalen Brunson is more of a scorer than a facilitator, and Dallas has to let Trey Burke run the second unit when their superstar is out. Both players are a bit overextended in those roles, and it results in the Mavericks struggling to score points.
The Dallas Mavericks need to add another facilitator before the Feb. 10 trade deadline. Relying on Luka Doncic to do it all in the playoffs has failed for two straight years, and it will again come April. The 22-year-old superstar will put up monster numbers, but he wears down late from carrying such a heavy offensive burden.
Hopefully, Dallas gets him some more help soon, or it will likely be another early exit for the Mavs. Stayed tuned to see what new general manager Nico Harrison can pull off.