The Mavericks had one of their best wins of the season on New Year’s Eve as they beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 116-113. The fourth quarter was incredibly tight, with neither team able to build more than a five-point lead.
But two things about last night’s win really stand out:
1. OKC looks like they’ve started to figure things out recently after a pretty hot and cold start to the season. They’re an extremely talented team, so the Mavs staying with them late and finishing strong is great.
2. But perhaps more importantly, Dennis Smith Jr. essentially took over the last two minutes by himself and showed he can be a go-to finisher.
Here’s how that takeover went down:
With 1:52 remaining in the fourth, the Mavs trailed by one point after a Jerami Grant bucket. There’s some passing back and forth around the three-point line before Dennis Smith Jr. pulls up and makes the shot. Mavs go up 108-106.
Cue Russell Westbrook acrobatic finish for two. OKC ties the game 108-108.
Pop quiz! Dennis Smith Jr. (cool, calm and collected) brings the ball up the floor and:
A - Turns it over
B - Passes the ball off, he can’t handle the pressure
C - Pulls up from 25 feet and banks in a three
D - Misses a layup
The answer is C, because of course. (Later, when asked if he called “bank,” Smith Jr. responded with “I called game.”) Mavs go up 111-108.
On the other end of the floor, with 37 seconds left, Salah Mejri fouls Carmelo Anthony on a mid-range jump shot. Anthony nails both free throws, bringing the Thunder to within one point, 111-110.
It’s no surprise that out of a timeout, the ball would be in DSJ’s hands. He drives to the lane right at Jerami Grant, flies through the air like the majestic eagle he is and lays it in off the glass. He is hyped, and the Mavericks are up 113-110.
Dallas plays some great defense and gets a valuable stop with a Russell Westbrook miss. Dennis Smith Jr. snags the rebound and runs up the floor like the majestic gazelle he is. He almost outruns the OKC players to run out the clock, but takes the foul.
Dennis Smith Jr. ices the game, hitting both shots at the free-throw line in yet another impressive feat from a young guy with the pressure on. 115-110 Mavs.
A questionable foul call on a three-point shot gives Paul George free throws. Even with George hitting all three and DSJ missing one of his two free throws on the subsequent possession, the Mavs are able to escape Oklahoma with the win, 116-113.
Love you, DSJ.