Breakfast Special: The Increasingly Implausible Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks are 17-18 after beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 105-103 in Dallas Sunday.

The win brought the Mavs to 15-3 at home. They are 2-15 on the road.

The team is absurd and nothing makes sense in this world and also you have to wonder just what the hell happened to Russell Westbrook, who shot 4-of-22 from the field and 0-of-8 from three and put up one of the ugliest performances in a professional basketball game in recent memory.

Even Paul George‘s explosion for 36 points on 12-of-24 (and 3-of-11 from three…whoops) couldn’t save the Thunder.

Dallas played an incompetent game, trying desperately to give it away by committing 23 turnovers (against just 11 from OKC.) But when the Thunder shot 9-of-38 from three, this is the game you get.

Luka Doncic led the Mavs with 25, DeAndre Jordan had 12 points and 17 rebounds, J.J. Barea had ten assists off the bench, Dallas won the rebounding (49-39) and free throw (17-of-22 vs. 14-of-21) battles, and that’s your ballgame.

You don’t beat Dallas in their building. That seems to be the operating rule this season, as the 12 seed in the West has the best home record in the conference and third-best (behind Toronto and Philadelphia, both 16-3) in the entire league.

Doncic is Precious ROY, so here’s a reel of his pirate cripplers:

Speaking of Garbage Road Teams

The 76ers, mentioned above for their 16-3 home record, are better than Dallas on the road, but that doesn’t make them good.

Philly traveled to Portland and got utterly slaughtered 129-95, their road record dropping to 7-11 in the process.

Ben Simmons had 19 points on 0-of-0 from three-point land, but he did not have the triple-double threat numbers you normally expect from him; he had just three rebounds and three assists while shooting 5-of-10 from the line.

Meanwhile, nobody on the Blazers had more than eight rebounds, but seven guys had at least six boards, leading to a 59-36 rebounding advantage overall.

CJ McCollum led the way with 35 points, Seth Curry was plus-33 in 20 minutes off the bench, and a game that was over by halftime (70-41) meant that nobody had to play more than McCollum’s 28 minutes for the squad.

This game was even more absurd after three (106-67) before Philly trimmed the deficit just a touch in the final frame.

But this was McCollum’s show, and he’s the man of the match:

Dollar Store Westbrook Rides Again

The depths to which Lonzo Ball‘s game can sink even in victory boggle the mind.

The Lakers’ accidental point guard, playing without LeBron James and Rajon Rondo in the lineup, shot 6-of-14 from the field, 1-of-6 from three, missed all four of his free throws, and posted a minus-20 in his 31 minutes.

The Lakers were plus-27 with Lonzo off the floor for 17 minutes.

But hey, plus 27 is more than minus 20, so the Lakers beat the Kings 121-114.

Josh Hart had 22 points in 40 minutes, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 26 (on 9-of-21) off the bench, and Brandon Ingram lit up the nets for 21 points on 9-of-13.

A 50-45 team rebounding advantage helped offset a terrible free-throw shooting night (12-of-20, although the rest of the Lakers shot a semi-respectable 75 percent when you take away Lonzo’s clown show), and shooting 47-of-98 with 15 three-point makes beat 46-of-95 and 13 makes.

In other words, a close game that was just a little bit better in every facet for the team that won.

Ingram’s stuffing of the stat sheet gets him man of the match:

Lightning Round!

Orlando beat Detroit 109-107, and the Pistons, once within striking distance of a level point differential, had an awful weekend, getting blown out by the Pacers Friday night.

Not a good stretch for a team that is nonetheless still the 8 seed in the East at 16-18.

Evan Fournier had 13 points including a buzzer-beater to win it in regulation, Nikola Vucevic had 22 points and 11 rebounds, Aaron Gordon had 22 and 10, and the teams combined to shoot 43-of-47 from the free throw line, each side missing just two attempts in a game decided by two points.

Only one shot mattered in this one…

Toronto beat Chicago 95-89 at home in a snoozer.

The Raptors shot just 37 percent from the field, but they had 17 offensive rebounds, won the turnover battle 16-11, held the Bulls to just 20 three-point attempts (of which Chicago made seven), and got 27 points and nine rebounds from Kawhi Leonard to secure the win.

Oh, by the way, the Raptors bench had a combined zero turnovers. Wow.

Give it up for the MVP candidate:

And finally, on a day where lousy road teams seized the narrative (see comments above about Mavs and Sixers), we got to see an awful home team lose on their own floor.

The Heat may have those super-cool Miami Vice vibes going on, but it just means the Heat are playing there like it’s 1989 and they’re still an expansion team, with an 8-11 home record after losing 113-104 to Minnesota.

Karl-Anthony Towns put up a monster stat line with 34 points, 18 rebounds, seven assists, and six blocks, while Andrew Wiggins…sucks. Ralph Wiggum had 13 points on 5-of-16 in 36 minutes, and any good small forward up from the G-League could do better than that.

Check out what that KAT man do:

And β€œor better” since 1973-74? I dunno, ask David Robinson and Hakeem Olajuwon. Three steals doesn’t beat a quadruple-double.

Good riddance to 2018, folks, and here’s to making 2019 even better. Thanks for reading!