Beating the Orlando Magic was the expectation for the Dallas Mavericks.
But constant turnovers on the second night of a back-to-back doomed Dallas’ hopes of winning shorthanded. In a way, Sunday night’s game provided an example of the volatility in an 82-game NBA season. The final score in Dallas’ second — and final — game against Orlando this month: 110-108 in Orlando’s favor.
“It took us a long time to get into the game,” Josh Green said. “We go back to the drawing board, go back to practice. We let a team go out and hit us. Turning over the ball can never help you, I had a couple of turnovers tonight. At the end of the day, we just need to bounce back and make sure we play smart.”
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) January 31, 2022
Orlando scored 26 points off of 18 Dallas turnovers. And in a one-possession game, those 26 points made a huge difference.
“We had been doing a good job of taking care of the ball,” Jason Kidd said. “We just didn’t do a great job at it today.”
What is mind-boggling isn’t just the amount of turnovers but how Dallas picked them up. Many of them weren’t a product of an attempted pass, where a player weighed the risk and reward and deemed the attempt worthy. No, a plethora of Dallas’ miscues came from mental mistakes like stepping out of bounds.
“We had a slow second quarter,” Marquese Chriss said. “We waited too long to turn it on.”
The costly turnovers
The most costly turnover came from Maxi Kleber, who secured the rebound after a Franz Wagner missed a jump shot with 18 seconds left. While looking for Luka Doncic, Jalen Suggs plucked the ball right from his hands.
After the game, Kidd explained that he was trying to call a timeout, but the ref didn’t hear him because of the mask covering his face. How truthful is that? Who knows. The ref wasn’t even facing Kidd.
Another costly miscue was Doncic’s backcourt turnover with four minutes left in the game. Dallas was up by two at the time (104-106) and off of the giveaway, Cole Anthony tied the game at 106 all. The rest is history.
The brutal second quarter
But Dallas set itself up for failure late in-game by the way it played in the second quarter. Seven of the Mavericks’ turnovers happened in the second stanza of action alone.
Between Dorian Finney-Smith stepping out of bounds, Dwight Powell charging into Magic players, Kleber throwing errant passes, Frank Ntilikina losing the ball, and Reggie Bullock also stepping out of bounds, it’s no surprise Dallas’ offensive points per possession dropped to 0.97 while Orlando’s bloomed to 1.57 in the frame.
In part to the turnovers, Dallas’ defensive rating in the second quarter ballooned to an embarrassing 157.4. Dallas gave up 41 points in one quarter. That won’t win you basketball games. Even if you’re playing the Orlando Magic.
“We shouldn’t give up 41 points in one quarter,” Doncic said. “It just shouldn’t happen.”
As Doncic, who tallied a 34-point triple-double (11 assists and 12 rebounds), said, games like this can’t happen, but on Sunday night it did. For Dallas (29-22), it’s on to the next one while hoping that this loss doesn’t come back to bite in March.
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Feature image via Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports.