This game was the most winnable of the Mavericks current four game road trip and it felt like one Dallas just needed to have. Early on this game was a slug fest and borderline unwatchable with how sloppy both teams played in the first half.
Danillo Gallinari went off and so did Montrez Harrell in the first half and it felt like the Mavericks would be outclassed in the second half. Then third quarter Luka Doncic happened.
Luka dropped 14 points in the fourth quarter in a myriad of ways. He scored on cuts, off the dribble, on step backs and floaters. Doncic just couldn’t be stopped yet the Mavericks couldn’t cut into the Clippers lead.
To start the fourth quarter Rick Carlisle put a lineup of Barea, Harris, Finney-Smith, Kleber, and Salah Mejri. That unit took the lead back from LA and played the first six minutes of the quarter.
When the starters checked back in they were flat and settled for mostly low percentage shots as the game got away. The Mavericks made a late comeback and a Luka step back triple with 2 seconds left gave Doncic a new career-high with 32 points.
It wasn’t enough as Dallas would end up losing 125-121. Here’s three things we learned from this game.
Salah Mejri and Maxi Kleber are extremely important to this team
At the beginning of the fourth quarter when that lineup with Mejri and Kleber came in Dallas was down 82-89. When Luka Doncic and DeAndre Jordan checked back in with 4:26 left Dallas led 109-107.
The interior defense and energy of Mejri and Kleber along with stellar play from JJ Barea brought this team back in the game.
Luka Doncic’s third quarter is ridonc-ulous
Doncic’s 14 points along with his assists were huge to keep Dallas from the dreaded third quarter crater they often fall into.
When Luka started scoring like crazy he continued his exceptional streak of passing he’s put on for the last few games.
The Mavericks bench is back in form
Lately the Mavericks bench had fallen off from their excellent early season play the last few games. Tonight was a return back to the early season play with their run to start the fourth quarter.
This run happened to be without Dwight Powell yet the unit moved like clockwork even with an unfamiliar cog replacing a regular one.
When the starters aren’t jelling together offensively, as was the case for large portions of this game, Dallas needs their bench to dominate in order to beat their tougher opponents on the road.