Mavs bring five-game losing streak into game vs. Knicks
Dallas rookie Luka Doncic will never forget his eighth NBA game.
Not for once again filling the box score against the Lakers on Wednesday, but for the autographed jersey he received from his idol, LeBron James, afterward.
The two agreed on the deal during the game, and then Doncic helped the Mavs almost pull off a terrific comeback, making his last five goal attempts and picking up three assists in the fourth quarter when the Mavs recovered from a 14-point deficit in the final four minutes to tie the game before James sank the winning free throw.
"I asked him for the jersey in the game," Doncic told the Dallas Morning News.
James' message read: "Continue to #StriveFor Greatness."
Dallas will bring a five-game losing streak into a home game against the New York Knicks on Friday. The Mavs will be glad to be back, having lost their last 10 road games dating to last year.
The Knicks have not had any success on the road this season, either, having lost their first three. After winning the season opener, the Knicks have lost six of seven and are coming off a 107-101 home loss to Indiana in which they were outscored 30-20 in the fourth quarter.
Despite the loss to James and the Lakers, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle liked the fight he saw from this team, which trailed bye as many as 19 points in the third quarter.
"It's the second game in a row where we're in a one-point game at the end of regulation," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle told reporters, referring to an overtime loss to San Antonio on Monday.
"We'll learn the things we need to learn and we'll get ready for the next game."
Doncic, 19, led rookies with a 19.6 scoring average. He is averaging 4.4 assists and 6.3 rebounds, second and third among rookies, respectively.
The Mavericks' difficulty has come on the other end, where opponents are shooting 49.4 percent from the floor, the third-highest percentage in the league. Dallas has committed 16.1 turnovers a game, also among the highest in the league but they also have forced exactly that many while playing at a faster pace this season.
The Mavs will contend with Knicks guard Tim Hardaway Jr., who scored a season-high 37 points -- two short of his career high -- against Indiana.
The Knicks are still without injured forward Kristaps Porzingis and a more reliant on Hardaway's scoring this season. Hs is averaging 26.0 points a game, far ahead of his career-best 17.5 points a game let season, his first with New York and his first as a full-time starter.
Hardaway also is the first Knick to score at least 24 points in seven of the team's first eight games since Patrick Ewing did that in the 1990-91 season. Hardaway has led the team in scoring seven times, and he had the Knicks in a good position until the Pacers' late run Wednesday.
Indiana wrested the game away with a 9-0 run that lasted 90 seconds late in the fourth quarter, although the Knicks closed to within two on non-drafted guard Allonzo Trier's layup with 44 seconds left.
"Coming out of the timeout we gotta know our plays," Hardaway told reporters. "We know how the defensive concepts are. It is youth ... it comes with that."
Noah Vonleh had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Trier had 14 points in 23 minutes, his fourth double-digit scoring game off the bench. Another non-drafted free agent, Mitchell Robinson, has 18 pints and 13 rebounds in three starts since Enes Kanter was moved to the second unit. Robinson had 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting in the Knicks' only victory, 115-96 over Brooklyn on Monday.
The Mavs received some sobering news Wednesday regarding team leader Dirk Nowitzki, who has not played this season because of left foot soreness after undergoing left ankle surgery in April.
Nowitzki, the 7th leading scorer in NBA history, said he remains "weeks" from returning to the court for his sixth-man role this season.
"We're taking it super slow obviously now," Nowitzki told the Dallas Morning News. "I'm starting really from zero. I haven't had much court work or running in weeks now. Running on the court soon, hopefully that's the next step. It's going to be a fight to get back in game shape so I can stay out there and play a little bit."
Carlisle: "We'll just keep slugging away at Mother Nature."