Fresh off an electric performance against Houston, rookie sensation Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks took on the Orlando Magic in Dallas Monday night. Dallas led the whole way, eventually blowing things open in the third quarter as they cruised to a win, improving their record to 14-11. They have been especially strong at home this season, as this was their 10th straight home win(12-2 there on the year).
LUKA NEARLY GOES FOR TRIP-DUB DESPITE SHOT NOT FALLING
Luka Mania continues even on an off-night. Doncic finished with just 7 points, but grabbed 11 boards and handed out 9 assists(and should have had several more, as DeAndre Jordan missed a pair of fairly easy lob dunks). If the game had been a little closer, Luka might have got a chance to come back in and get his triple-double. Instead, he was +16 in 26 minutes.
ACTION BRUNSON IS COMING FOR THAT STARTER SPOT
With Dennis Smith Jr. still sidelined with a nagging wrist injury, Jalen Brunson once again stepped into the starting lineup and was methodical, efficient, and poised well beyond his years. Simply put: he doesn’t play like a rookie. He scored 17 points Monday, on another 7-9 shooting line(matching the one he had Saturday against Houston), adding 4 assists against just one turnover. You’d expect little else from a former National College Player of the Year, two-time NCAA champion and captain of Jay Wright’s pro-style Villanova offense, but Brunson has a great feel for the game, plays within himself, and executes the right play almost every time down. It’s still very early in his career, but as of now he looks like the second outstanding pick for Donnie Nelson, Michael Finely and the Maverick organization from the 2018 draft.
DALLAS DEFENSE PUTS CLAMPS ON MAGIC
With Evan Fournier out, the Orlando Magic were pretty limited in terms of available players who could, y’know, dribble. Noted Mav killer D.J. Augustin was quiet, and Orlando’s talented frontcourt duo of Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon both went 4-15 from the field. Dallas was not particularly hot shooting the ball, either, but the Magic had a dismal statline, shooting 36% from the field, 28% from three, and posting nearly as many turnovers(15) as assists(18). They shot 5(!!) free throws in the game.
HARRISON BARNES IMPROVING AS A SPOT UP SHOOTER
I’ve written and/or tweeted plenty of criticism of Barnes, who came to Dallas playing an iso-heavy game that didn’t reflect where the modern NBA game was going, but he has clearly worked hard to try and adjust in the two seasons since. He will never be much of a facilitator(that’s probably an understatement; he’s a dreadful passer), but his spot up shooting has come a long way, and coupled with his defensive versatility and iron man work ethic, he absolutely has value on this team as a play finisher and scorer. Barnes made 5 of 10 threes, most coming spotting up in the corners, and led all scorers with 19 points in 28 minutes. If Barnes can be a 3-and-D guy with a few extra post ups/triple threat actions thrown in, he makes this team dangerous.
Basketball is pretty fun right now, no? The Mavs get a break from that extremely difficult 11 game stretch earlier this month, and now have a chance to really get some momentum going. They take on lottery dwellers Atlanta and Phoenix Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
Oh, and they’re probably going to get Dennis Smith Jr. and some guy named Dirk Nowitzki back soon.