Dallas, Texas — Losses can turn into lessons, and the Dallas Mavericks can use a couple of those moving forward.
After going 10-1 in 11 games, the Mavericks lost 109-101 to the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night. It wasn’t an ideal outcome, but there is something to be learned from the defending Western Conference champion Suns. And for Kristaps Porzingis, that lesson is in fact quite simple.
“That at the end of the game, if we were getting back more – they really challenged us on the offensive end with their shots,” Porzingis said.”But, we have to take good shots and make our shots. On to the next one. This is a loss for us, but we have to move on and shake it off.”
Early in the season, losses used to labor the Mavericks. They would hang in the air like dense fog and carry over into the next game. This version of the Mavericks actively wants to learn from the difficult outcome and move on.
In an 82-game season, there are going to be games that just don’t go Dallas’ way. That’s ok. If the Mavericks have proved anything since the calendar turned to 2022 it’s that defense comes first and that the outcome of games doesn’t determine the effort in the next one on the schedule.
“It’s like a swag thing,” Porzingis said of the mental development of the team. “We have the same guys, but if you start to build something, it develops a little more sauce. We have moments like that and that is a cool feeling to be a part of a team like that.”
Luka Doncic’s evaluation
The Mavericks’ star, Luka Doncic, appeared to agree with Porzingis’ observation by admitting that Dallas is “building” towards something special.
“We are playing together as a team, and everybody is helping each other,” he said.”We gotta keep building it, we got a long way to go still, but it’s going good.”
Specifically, where things are going well is the defensive end. Dallas holds the fourth-best defensive rating (106.4). In January, Dallas holds the league’s best defensive rating at 99.2.
The good defense allowed a poor-shooting Dallas team to slow the game down, controlling the tempo and pace of play. In controlling the number of possessions and the pace at which the game is played, Dallas has gotten the most out of Doncic, Jalen Brunson, and Porzingis when all three are on the floor together.
And the good news there is that, recently, that unlucky trio has finally put together a few games with one another. Dallas is 3-1 in the last four games with a healthy Doncic, Brunson, and Porzingis trio.
Dallas can learn from contenders like Phoenix. When things don’t go the Suns’ way, Chris Paul won’t let them linger on it. The Mavericks are still learning how to reach that point. But if recent weeks are any indication of where things are going, Dallas is trending upward.
“I think going forward for us, we’re in a good space,” Brunson said. “As long as we stick together, I think we’ll be alright.”
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Feature image via Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports.