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Mavericks in midst of frustrating stretch ... and they're showing it

Doncic rips jersey, Carlisle gets ejected and Dallas loses fifth game in last seven

Michael C. Wright

Michael C. Wright

DALLAS — Slumped in a chair, introspection washing over after the Los Angeles Lakers delivered the Dallas Mavericks a 129-114 thumping in the final regular-season game between the teams, Luka Doncic spoke in hushed tones about improvements he needs to make.

Keeping composure ranked high on the list.

“Bad game, we had a terrible game,” Doncic said. “That was on me for sure. I feel like lately, I don’t know how to play basketball. It wasn’t me and I’ve got to get better — a lot. [I’m] 20 years old; watch and learn.”

What fans inside American Airlines Arena observed was a team that at times let frustration get the best of it as the Lakers, without help from star big man Anthony Davis, rolled to their seventh-consecutive victory to strengthen their grip on the No. 1 spot in the West.

Los Angeles lit up the Mavericks for 79 points in the first half alone, with Kyle Kuzma scoring a game-high 21 points through the first two quarters filling in for the injured Davis. Kuzma finished the game with 26 points.

Frustration wouldn’t rear its head until 1 minute and 53 seconds before intermission.

After Seth Curry hit a technical free throw, Doncic missed two shots from the line. Doncic angrily yanked at the neck of his jersey in response, ripping down the middle, almost to his number.

Doncic played the end of the half with the torn threads, before emerging in the second half with a new No. 77 jersey. It was this month last year when the second-year pro ripped his jersey in frustration during a 106-98 loss to the LA Clippers as well.

While Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle pointed to Doncic’s passion to win as the culprit for Friday’s incident, the young guard admitted his own culpability, saying “frustration” was the reason while pointing out “I’m 20 years old” on multiple occasions.

“I know I can get better,” he said.

The loss for Dallas marked its fifth in seven games, as Doncic’s star sidekick Kristaps Porzingis, missed his sixth consecutive game due to right knee soreness.

LeBron James scored a game-high 35 points and knocked down 14 field goals to move past Michael Jordan for fourth in NBA history in field goals made (12,197). James also dished seven assists and needs to log just three more to move past Isiah Thomas for eighth place in NBA history.

James was asked what advice he’d give Doncic.

“If we sat down and he asked for advice on anything, I can give it to him,” James said. “But, I don’t think that is for me to ramp off right now in front of you guys. I think he is well beyond his years. He shows that both on the floor and off the floor.”

Doncic contributed 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists to go with six turnovers.

Still, frustration ate at Doncic from his seat in the corner of the locker room long after the game had come to an end.

“He is a guy that wants to win, and he gets frustrated,” said Carlisle, who was ejected with 9:50 left and the Mavericks trailing 106-86, as Doncic restrained the coach from the referees.

“Those are emotions and feelings that are about winning and losing. So, I get it. I get it,” Carlisle added. “He’s going through a lot this year. He’s going through just a lot of different situations. He’s made some just phenomenal performances, other nights where people have just taken physical liberties on him and beaten the [expletive] out of him. He’s learning how to deal with all that stuff. But it’s not easy…

“I think we’ve got to understand he’s still young. He’s mature beyond his years, in terms of how he sees the game, his skillset, how he can do things out on the floor. But we’re going through a rough stretch right now, and everybody needs to try to keep their emotions in check. This is the whole team. When we do get frustrated, channel that frustration toward the team and each other, keep each other up, keep fighting. That’s what we’ve got to do. It’s a murderous stretch right now.”

Doncic, Carlisle and the rest of the Mavericks believe the team isn’t receiving proper respect from the officials, with the coach saying that “there are some things going on out there that are quite frankly shocking, and our guys are going through a rough time because of it.”

As the clock struck close to midnight, the last of the weary Mavericks sauntered from the locker room and into the night. On the way out, guard Seth Curry expressed appreciation for the coach standing up for the team and recognizing its frustration.

Dallas hosts the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday (8:30 ET) in the second leg of the current back-to-back at home.

“That’s the way it should be as a coach, and we don’t have the older superstar that can really do that right now, to take a stand against the refs,” Curry said. “We aren’t getting a lot of respect out there on the floor as players. Luka taking it to the hole, Delon [Wright] taking it to the rim a lot. I’m getting held a lot off the ball. But we just aren’t getting that respect. So, we have to keep playing through it and playing tough. Hopefully one day it’ll turn around.”

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Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here , find his archive here and follow him on Twitter .

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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