In the second game of their home-and-home series, the Mavericks fell to the Pelicans, 114-112, after winning two nights ago. Dennis Smith Jr. returned to the lineup tonight, Luka Doncic had his best game to date, and Dirk had a couple fun Dirk shots.
Ultimately, Anthony Davis and Co. got revenge on their home court in the fourth quarter after being down to the Mavs most of the game. Here’s what we learned:
A “big” weakness
Like most teams in the NBA, the Dallas Mavericks showed themselves ill-equipped to deal with Pelicans lineups that included multiple big men. Julius Randle and Jahlil Okafor paired with Anthony Davis to find the mismatch of whichever big was not DeAndre Jordan (Dirk, Dwight Powell, and Maxi Kleber took turns).
Combined, those three guys put up 72 of the Pelicans’ 114 points, and dominated the inside game. Here’s your reminder than Anthony Davis is one of the three best players in the league and is only 25 years old.
Luka Doncic led the Mavericks in points, field goals made, 3 point shots made/attempted, and free throws made/attempted. Even with Dennis Smith Jr. back in the lineup (more on that in a second), this was a clear message: the Mavericks are Luka’s team now, and they’ll go as far as he can take them.
All of this is overshadowed, of course, by the Mavericks choosing to use Luka as nothing more than a decoy on the final play. Which brings me to....
After missing 10 of the last 11 games with injury, Dennis Smith Jr. was back in the Mavericks starting lineup tonight. Not only did he put up 14 points and 4 assists, but he seemed comfortable in his role, playing efficient offense and strong defense before missing a couple of potential game-winners in the final few minutes of regulation.
Having him take the final shot of the game can be argued against, and it definitely will, but it wasn’t his decision (it was Carlisle’s) and it also very nearly worked. Smith got an open lane and had an open layup, and came within seconds/inches of sending the game to overtime.