Absolutely nothing went right for the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, as they lost 111-99 to the Sacramento Kings. In the process they shot 17.1 percent from 3-point land, turned the ball over 16 times and both Luka Doncic and coach Rick Carlisle were ejected.
To some extent you have to just write these kind of games off and move on to the next one, but it gets tougher to do that this late in the season, especially when the loss can have a big impact moving forward. After picking up two technicals in this game, Doncic now has 15 for the season, which means he'll be suspended for a game if he picks up another one.
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Doncic's ejection came with less than a minute to play, and seemed to stun the young star. Coming out of a timeout, he had a brief conversation with the referees, and then was hit with a second technical and kicked out of the game. You can see the events unfold below:
Afterward, official Rodney Mott explained during the pool report that Doncic was ejected for unsportsmanlike behavior.
QUESTION: Why was the second technical foul called on Doncic?
MOTT: "The second technical foul was called for throwing the ball due to frustrations of a call. Throwing the ball, the length of the court in an overt manner, which is also an unsportsmanlike technical foul."
QUESTION: "Why was that unsportsmanlike instead of delay of game?"
MOTT: "We had a time out and he takes the ball and he doesn't throw it to the nearest official, he throws the ball the length of the court which makes it an unsportsmanlike act. The rule clearly states that you have to hand the ball to the nearest official."
Technical fouls can be rescinded by the league, and this call does seem a little harsh, so perhaps Doncic has a chance this one will be taken back. If not, he'll have to be on his best behavior the rest of the regular season. If he reaches 16 technicals, that's an automatic one-game suspension, which the Mavericks can't afford right now. Doncic is well aware of this, and after the game he promised that he would keep his emotions in check moving forward.
"I won't get another one," Doncic said, via ESPN. "Don't worry."
Carlisle said the team has made Doncic aware of the fact that he's approaching an automatic suspension, though the Mavs coach shouldered some of the blame for his own behavior on Sunday night.
"Look, I set a poor example tonight by getting two myself," Carlisle said. "That's on me. I apologized to the team after the game for it, too. It's not the right example ... I've got four technicals this year; they're all from the same guy [referee CJ Washington]. I'm not sure exactly what that says, but there's a saying, 'Reasonable men have the right to disagree.' I'll stick with that."
Following Sunday's games, the Mavs are in a three-way tie with the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers for the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference. With the way the standings are shaking out, two of those teams will finish fifth and sixth, earning automatic playoff berths, while one will finish seventh and have to go to the play-in tournament. Obviously the Mavericks would prefer to avoid a play-in scenario, and losing Doncic for one of their final eight games would be a huge blow to those hopes.