The New York Knicks will try to pull out of a slump when they begin a tour through Texas on Tuesday, visiting a Dallas Mavericks team on a three-game winning streak.
Both New York and Dallas appeared in Christmas Day showcase games, with the Knicks’ current losing skid extending to three games in a 119-112 decision against Philadelphia and the Mavericks picking up their third straight win, 124-115 over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Dallas overwhelmed Los Angeles on Sunday with Luka Doncic totaling 32 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, and Christian Wood adding 30 points, eight rebounds and four steals.
The duo contributed to a 51-point third quarter, which marked the highest-scoring period of this NBA season.
“Let’s start thinking about the paint before we start shooting (3-pointers),” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said during his postgame press conference in reference to Dallas’ approach after halftime. “In the third quarter, the ball touched the paint, we started playing through Luka in the post to create some different double-teams, and Luka being the quarterback, he found open guys.”
While the Dallas offense primarily operates through Doncic, who ranks second in the NBA at 32.8 points per game, Sunday’s win followed a much different trajectory than the Mavericks’ 112-106 win at Houston on Friday.
Doncic scored 50 points, while no other Mavericks player scored more than 11. Against the Lakers, Wood’s production and Tim Hardaway Jr.’s 26 points — which included 6-of-14 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc — demonstrated Dallas’ capacity for a more balanced attack without sacrificing Doncic’s scoring punch.
New York sees each of the NBA’s top two scorers in consecutive contests with Tuesday’s visit to Dallas, as the Knicks draw Doncic just two days after surrendering 35 points to league-leading scorer Joel Embiid.
Embiid’s effort, along with 29 points from James Harden, doomed New York to a third straight loss after the Knicks had been the league’s hottest team for more than two weeks.
New York won eight straight from Dec. 4-20 but gave up 52 points to Pascal Siakam in a 113-106 loss to Toronto on Wednesday. The Knicks surrendered a game-winning jumper to DeMar DeRozan — after Jalen Brunson missed two potential game-sealing free throws — on Friday in a 118-117 loss to Chicago, then fell on Sunday.
“It starts with the defensive end. We weren’t able to get stops,” Knicks forward Julius Randle said. “And then, it slows us down offensively.”
The Knicks’ last loss preceding their winning streak came on Dec. 3, a 121-100 setback against this same Dallas bunch. New York gave up 30 points to Doncic and 28 to former Knick Hardaway in the loss.
Hardaway was part of a trade to the Mavericks in 2019.
Two of the Knicks’ three offensive leaders — RJ Barrett and Brunson, a former Maverick — struggled to 13 points apiece in the last meeting with Dallas. Brunson’s status for a return to Dallas, the first of three straight games for New York against the NBA’s Texas franchises, is uncertain.
Brunson left Sunday’s loss early in the fourth quarter with a hip injury, according to the team, which on Monday listed him as questionable for Tuesday’s game.
–Field Level Media