The Dallas Mavericks got off to a hot start in their season opener against the Phoenix Suns, building a 22-point lead. Unfortunately, it all came crashing down as Phoenix made an impressive comeback and ended up winning the game in the closing seconds.
Doncic had a chance to win it with a deep three, but it didn’t fall. He did everything he could, dropping 35 points, nine rebounds, and six assists. Christian Wood provided a spark off the bench, too, pouring in 25 points and grabbing eight boards.
There was just one problem with Wood’s performance. Free throws.
Wood went 3-for-10 from the line in a game that the Mavericks lost by just two points. A few more makes, and it could have been an entirely different ball game. But Doncic supported his teammate after the game, telling Wood that it’s important to forget about the misses and move on.
“It’s a lot of mental,” Doncic said via Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News. “You’ve just got to forget what happened and then just go on the line and [not] think about it.”
While Wood struggled from the line, Doncic had a historically great game from that spot. He nailed all 13 of his free throws, the most he’s ever made in an NBA game.
Wood Criticizes Free Throw Misses
Doncic was supportive of his teammate, but Wood wasn’t quite as forgiving of his own mistakes. He put together a great first game as a Maverick, but his free throw misses were the main thing thrown into the spotlight.
He called his performance at the line “inexcusable” but said there’s nothing left to do than be better next time.
“It’s just getting first-game jitters out,” Wood said. “Just attack it. Try to be better next time. You’ve got to take it day by day.”
Wood scored 16-straight points from the end of the third and into the fourth quarter, heating up right when the Mavericks needed him to.
Mavericks Struggled From the Line
Wood received most of the attention because of his otherwise stellar performance, but Dallas as a team put in a poor shift from the free-throw line. They shot just 21-of-34 from the stripe, and if you take away Doncic’s 13 makes, that would be just 8-of-21 for the rest of the team.
Head coach Jason Kidd was not happy with his team’s free-throw shooting.
“You can’t be an elite team in this league if you’re not going to make free throws. We did a great job of attempts but you have to put them in,” Kidd said via Landon Thomas of Mavs Fans for Life.
Due in large part to their poor free-throw shooting, the Mavericks are now 0-1 on the season, losing a game that they probably should have won. But as Wood alluded to, there’s nothing left for them to do but move forward and learn from their mistakes.
Dallas’ next contest will be another tough test against a Western Conference powerhouse, the Memphis Grizzlies. They’ll welcome Memphis to the American Airlines Center for their home opener on Saturday night. The game tips off at 9:30 p.m. Central time.