Honestly at this point we can probably copy and paste most of these recaps. Tell me if you’ve heard this before: The Mavericks punched way above their weight against a talented team, looked in control during the second half and then tumbled away a clutch game to lose.
Dallas played Toronto tonight. They had the best team in the Eastern Conference on the ropes all night and then the bottom fell from under them in the final six minutes of the fourth quarter and the final three minutes of overtime. Mavs lose 122-115. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Even with the Raptors being on the second night of a back-to-back, the craziest thing about this game was how in-control the Mavericks were for almost the whole night. That isn’t to say the Mavs were blowing the doors off the Raptors, since the Mavs biggest lead never got larger than 10 to 13 points. It was more in how the Mavs answered every Raptors run and how smooth they went about doing what they wanted to do. It felt like, for tonight at least, that the Mavericks were the better team, not just a great team overlooking a poor one.
Of course, there’s the fourth quarter, so Toronto rallied. The fourth quarter was in single digits for the most of it and in the final six minutes the Raptors stormed back. Like seemingly all Mavericks games, this one became a clutch game. It wasn’t really DeMar DeRozan doing much, but the Raptors collective role players, which is a big reason why they’ve been so good this year. Dallas had a chance to win in regulation but Dennis Smith Jr. got blocked at the rim and Harrison Barnes missed a fallaway jumper near the elbow. Toronto had two chances at the win on the ensuing possession but Dwight Powell made a helluva defensive play.
In overtime it looked like Smith was gonna be the hero, after starting the period with a dunk and a crazy bounce on a pull-up jumper. Dallas went cold after that and the Raptors got threes from Fred Van Fleet and DeRozan to tie the game and then a nice finish near the rim from DeRozan to take the lead.
Another case of the Mavericks playing way over their heads, but failing to close against a good team. Nothing to really to feel bad about, but it’s happened a lot this season.
The Mavericks looked stupid good for three and a half quarter
Seriously. It might have been the best stretch of play from the Mavericks all season. It wasn’t like the Raptors were laying down, the Mavs were just giving them the business. The ball was moving freely, Smith was finishing drives and Barnes was having a huge game.
Everything just seemed to work. The offense never sputtered (till the end) and things flowed from one set to the next. The Mavs ended the game shooting 53.3 percent from the floor and that’s including their cold spell in the fourth quarter and overtime. Barnes had 27 and 11-of-20 shooting, Smith had 19, Yogi Ferrell had 12 and J.J. Barea had 18 points in 19 minutes. Dallas had flexible lineups out there with a mobile center and it really changed the pace of their game. The defense felt faster and the offense did too, even when Dirk Nowitzki was on the floor.
Dallas also had 25 assists to 10 turnovers. It was just a clean night for the offense for 75 percent of the game. It was just the final 25 that doomed them.
NERLENS NOEL SEEMS PRETTY OK, RIGHT GUYS?
HEY IT’S CRAZY HOW NICE NOEL LOOKED IN HIS 27 MINUTES TONIGHT. THAT’S NUTS THAT HE MANAGED TO LEARN THE PLAYS AND LEARNED HOW TO PRACTICE HARD WHILE REHABBING HIS THUMB INJURY.
COOL TO SEE HIM DO THINGS NO OTHER MAVERICKS BIG MAN COULD DO IN HIS TIME ON THE FLOOR. HE HAD SIX POINTS, SIX REBOUNDS, THREE ASSISTS, FIVE STEALS AND THREE BLOCKS. WOW. IF ONLY THE MAVERICKS HAD THAT TALENT AROUND ALL SEASON, I WONDER WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED. NOEL EVEN HAD SOME BAD PLAYS TONIGHT, LIKE HE’S SHOWN BEFORE, BUT IT’S CRAZY WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU LET A PLAYER PLAY THROUGH BAD PLAYS. IT’S PRETTY NEAT TO SEE WHAT YOU HAVE IN A DUDE EVEN IF HE ISN’T THAT GOOD. WHAT A CRAZY WAY TO GO ABOUT TEAM-BUILDING. WHO WOULD HAVE EVER THOUGHT IT’D BE A GOOD THING TO SEE WHAT YOU HAVE IN A 23-YEAR-OLD CENTER WHO IS GOING TO BE A FREE AGENT THIS SUMMER, GOOD OR BAD. I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY COULDN’T HAVE DONE THIS ALL SEASON, WHAT A SHAME.
OH WAIT, THEY COULD. SUCK IT. I’M TAKING MY VICTORY LAP YOU TURDS.
What the hell Toronto?
A loss here would have meant the Mavs would have swept the East-leading Raptors this season. Come on, Raptors. You can’t go about saying you’ve changed and this year is different and you’re ready to take the next step in the playoffs if you’re getting swept by lottery sludge.
You better wake up or LeBron is going to dunk all of y’all into the dumpster in a month.
BONUS TAKE: Where’s Jonathan Motley?
So The Dallas Morning News published a story earlier today about how Jonathan Motley and Jameel Warney were going to see increased time starting tonight and to close out the rest of the season. Here’s what Rick Carlisle said:
Carlisle said he’s hoping to use some of the final 14 games of the season to get a better idea of what he has in players like Jameel Warney, Nerlens Noel and Motley.
”I still want to look at Warney,” he said. “We have Motley, who at some point is going to get some run. All year, we’ve had an overload of centers. In other eras, that would be a real big positive. And it’s been positive for us. But since we have so many of them, not all of them can play.”
Warney played seven minutes. Motley was inactive.