The Dallas Mavericks hosted the Chicago Bulls Monday night at the American Airlines Center, and once again it was a fun, high-scoring affair with a lot of really positive takeaways. Wes Matthews led Dallas with 20 points, and DeAndre Jordan posted his third straight double-double with 18 and 16, lifting the Mavs to above .500 for the first time in centuries.
Dallas comes alive in fourth, holds on late
It was a back-and-forth game through three quarters, but the Dallas Mavericks opened up a double-digit lead in the final frame, before a late flurry of three’s and bad turnovers threatened to make it tight again in the last few minutes. After looking overmatched in the first half, the Dallas bench was largely responsible for the surge ahead, allowing the starters to come in and close things out.
Luka stays magic
Mavs’ rookie Luka Doncic followed up a 26 point performance Saturday with another strong showing, scoring 19 points and handing out 6 assists in 36 minutes. Doncic hit the floor a lot, and took a pounding for it, but his playmaking looks star quality, if that wasn’t clear already. Doncic and DeAndre Jordan are already working pick and roll action like...well, the seasoned professionals they are.
Undrafted finds Finney-Smith and Kleber look like real NBA players
Dorian Finney-Smith has replaced Harrison Barnes in the starting lineup extremely well, considering he essentially missed all of his sophomore season in the NBA. Finney-Smith’s activity and ability to generate deflections on defense brings a dimension Dallas doesn’t have otherwise, and sorely needs, especially given their struggles to rotate and challenge shooters. Maxi Kleber, meanwhile, has formed an unlikely frontcourt duo along with Dwight Powell, and thusfar it’s worked. Kleber’s three point shooting won’t be confused with Dirk’s, but Maxi has produced every time he’s been on the floor.
Dennis takes a step back
On a night with a lot of positives, it was hard not to notice Dennis Smith Jr. regressing a back to old (bad) habits a little, after coming up huge with a game-winner against Minnesota his last time out. Smith shot just 2-11 (and several of those misses were uncontested jumpers) and had more turnovers than assists. He was the lone starter in the negative by plus-minus, and more importantly he just didn’t look like he knew where to go with the ball very often. It kills me to write it but I may start to worry a little here if Dennis can’t put together an extended stretch of efficient basketball pretty soon. The points are there for the taking in this offense.