Say whatever you want about the Dallas Mavericks, but you sure as hell can’t call them boring anymore.
The Portland Trail Blazers took down the Mavericks 121-118 in overtime in what was a wildly entertaining game, punctuated by Luka Doncic’s heroics at the end of the fourth quarter, sending the game into overtime with a magical three-pointer.
There were other things that stood out, of course, so here’s what we noticed.
OUR SWEET CHUNKY BOY HAS RISEN
Alright let’s just get to the reason you all clicked on this post and roll that beautiful footage:
Doncic making this ridiculous shot and just casually brushing it off for the most part as he walked back to the bench is another piece of evidence that support my theory that Mavericks fans are spoiled as hell to go from Dirk Nowitzki to Doncic, because the way he makes the unbelievable seem natural is just an incredible trait he shares with Dirk.
I almost yelped very loudly when this shot went through, but covered my mouth so I wouldn’t wake the dogs. Doncic, like Dirk and Steph Curry and all the other great shot-makers in the NBA, practices these seemingly silly shots all the time. You never know when you’ll have the chance to bust out the one-handed-baseline-flip-three-pointer in a real game situation! Doncic is always prepared.
How good is he going to be when he’s 24? That’s five years from now. I need to go fan myself down.
Weird games from the supporting cast
While Doncic did make that crazy shot, he didn’t have a pristine overall game, going 7-of-21 from the floor and needing free throws to get to his 23 points. It was the other players around him that had...interesting games.
Harrison Barnes had a peak Harrison Barnes line with 27 points, one rebound, zero assists, zero steals, zero blocks, one turnover and one free throw attempt.
Barnes is just so hard to peg. He made 5-of-8 threes as he continues to shoot flames beyond the arc, giving Luka some breathing room and a reliable outlet on his pick and rolls when things get crowded. Everything else is just weird — how can a a 6’8 player who’s as athletic as Barnes get a combined one rebound/steal/block? It boggles my mind. The Mavs were dominated on the glass and offered weak resistance on defense throughout the game. I would hope the Mavericks highest-paid player would just squeak out a little more there.
Wesley Matthews also had a weird game. He was instrumental in the Mavericks rally from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter, making two monster three-pointers late, the second of which gave the Mavericks a brief lead with less than three minutes in the game.
Unfortunately those were the only two shots he hit. Matthews did the thing where he took a bunch of bad two-pointers and dribbled a bit too much instead of letting the offense flow a bit more naturally. He also had a helluva time on defense, where he was tasked with guarding either Damien Lillard or C.J. McCollum. Lillard had 33 points on 24 shots, McCollum had 22 on 20. Those two are hard to spot for every team in the league, but it’s especially true for the Mavericks, where they don’t have a lot of options for speedy or streaky guards. Matthews, Barnes and Dorian Finney-Smith can’t realistically keep up with any of those two on the perimeter for a whole game and Jalen Brunson and Doncic are slower rookies. J.J. Barea is just too overwhelmed physically and Devin Harris tries his best, but he’s a 34-year-old bench guard. Without Dennis Smith Jr., the Mavericks guard rotation is woefully flat-footed on defense at times and it leads to games like tonight where it seems like the opposing offense can dictate the terms of the game. Portland looked very comfortable tonight, even when the shots weren’t falling.
Maxi Kleber is just going to keep doing this huh?
Maxi Kleber averages less than 20 minutes per game yet he gets over a block per game. His defensive revelation continued against Portland, blocking two shots in 18 minutes and using his mobility to help where he could against the Trail Blazers shifty offense.
Like most good shot blockers, Kleber got his in the second half when Meyers Leonard jammed on him pretty hard. Still, the way Kleber moves his feet and protects the rim, it almost makes you wonder if the Mavericks should try to get Kleber signed to a reasonable rate, let DeAndre Jordan walk and instead of investing a huge chunk of their cap space next summer to center, just ride with a Kleber/Powell platoon and spend the money elsewhere, like getting another starting-level wing on the roster and evening up the roster balance between the bench and starters (too many small guards!)
BONUS: The DeAndre Jordan Fart Play of the Game
A new regular feature for whenever I do a recap or Morning After, he’s the play from Jordan that enraged me the most. You’ll never, EVER guess what it is:
How many chickens do I have to sacrifice to make Jordan convinced he’s not Chris Webber? Seriously, look at how the defense played this before Jordan passed it:
This happens just about every time Jordan has an extended touch at the top of the key or at the elbow. You’re basically playing 4-on-5 basketball every time. It’s gross. Please stop.