Dallas fell to the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night, 98-87, as the recently eliminated from playoff contention Mavericks did what we expected them to do: give young guys lots of minutes.
With Dirk, Seth Curry, and Wes Matthews sitting this game out, Dallas opened the game with their youngest starting lineup since the 1995 season, averaging just over 24 years of age with Yogi Ferrell, Nico Brussino, Nerlens Noel, Dwight Powell, and Harrison Barnes.
The Mavs started slowly, missing seven of their first eight threes and struggling to rebound, and they found themselves down 21-17 after the first quarter. In that first period the Kings pulled down 16 boards to Dallas’ 8.
Dallas continued to battle in the second quarter, pulling even with the Kings and eventually moving ahead thanks to some strong play from Noel and Brussino. A 13-5 scoring run to close the half helped Dallas take a 38-36 lead into halftime, despite Dallas shooting just 36.8% from the floor. Barnes led the team with eight points at the half, while Noel was already flirting with a double-double, scoring seven points and pulling down seven rebounds.
Things opened up a bit in the second half, as both teams started to score with more frequency. Dallas got hot from deep, hitting 7-of-10 threes in the third quarter, but they saw their lead shrink to one, 69-68, as the Kings shot 57% from the floor in the quarter.
Buddy HieldBen McLemore and the Kings took the lead back early in the fourth quarter, and never really relinquished it again. McLemore finished with 22 points, Hield finished with 16, as the Kings won 98-87.
The UDFA lineup
We all knew that the young guys were going to get the majority of the playing time, now that Dallas is playing for a high draft pick, but the lineup of Yogi, Nico, Uthoff, Finney-Smith, and Hammons saw significant time on the floor. Five rookies, four of them undrafted, is a pretty clear signal of what we can expect for the rest of the season.
Nico Brussino flashed some positives
Brussino accounted for 13 points, seven rebounds, and five assists on the night. He helped Dallas find a rhythm as he played a little point forward in the third quarter, and he worked very well with Nerlens Noel. The two found each other with some great passes, leading to easy buckets. Brussino
Nerlens Noel showed off his entire skill set
Noel had nine points and ten rebounds, but he also had two volleyball-esque blocks, two assists, and two steals, all while recording just a single foul. He saw just 20 minutes, under his average since joining the Mavs, but this isn’t the time to push Noel and potentially do something to his knee.
A.J. Hammons took advantage of his minutes
Hammons flashed his range, his shot-blocking ability, and his rebounding skills in 26 minutes, as he finished with nine points, seven rebounds, and three blocks, all career-highs for the second-round pick.
Uthoff struggled in extended minutes
Uthoff got 20 minutes to show what he could do, and he shot just 2-of-8 from the floor, and 0-for-3 from three point range. For a guy who lit it up in the D-League, especially from deep, it was a somewhat disappointing showing. He’ll undoubtedly get more minutes in the final games to get into a rhythm and show what he can do.