Matt Krohn / USA TODAY Sports
The Dallas Mavericks have had perhaps the most frustrating season of any team in the Western Conference this season, and things just went from bad to worse on Monday in a loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. That defeat, their 16th of the season, dropped the Mavericks below .500, but it wasn’t just the loss itself that will bother Dallas fans. It was the way in which it came.With the Mavericks trailing in the third quarter, Luka Doncic tried to draw a foul by initiating contact with defender Jaden McDaniels before a shot. He didn’t get the whistle. When Doncic complained, he was quickly issued two technical fouls and ejected. Coach Jason Kidd came to his defense, and he too was ejected.
Doncic has been noticeably frustrated with officials all season, but the numbers suggest he’s getting plenty of calls. He’s averaging a career-high 10.3 free throw attempts per game this season. Of course, he also has a career-high 38 percent usage rate, but even once that is adjusted for, his 45.3 percent free throw rate is also a career-best. By that measure, Doncic is getting more calls than ever.
He needs them, because the team Dallas has put around him is otherwise incapable of generating offense. The absence of Jalen Brunson, who is thriving in New York, has put an enormous burden on Doncic’s shoulders. Doncic is feeling that burden, and he let his frustration get the better of him on Monday. With the Mavericks now tied for 10th in the Western Conference, it’s hard to blame him.