The Dallas Mavericks fell to the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night, 114-106. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson led a balanced effort from Brooklyn, scoring 23, while grabbing five rebounds and four assists. Dennis Smith, Jr. was the high point man for Dallas with 21, but had his night cut short with an ankle sprain.
With a good portion of the rotation out either due to rest (Harrison Barnes, Nerlens Noel) or injury (J.J. Barea), the Mavericks started off against the Nets looking like a team which played an overtime game the night before. Brooklyn came out firing and quickly built an 11-0 lead. Dennis Smith Jr. hit a three to get the Mavericks on the board, but the Nets could not be stopped from beyond the arc as DeAngelo Russell hit the Nets fourth three of the early minutes of the game. With the first substitutions of the game, the red hot Nets cooled just a bit which allowed Dallas to work their way into the game. Despite the Mavericks working the lead down to single digits, Former Legend and Maverick Quincy Acy hit a pair of threes to bolster the Nets some, but Dallas was able to whittle down the lead to six a the Mavericks trailed after one quarter, 24-30.
The second quarter had early indications of a game which could become a blow out. Dennis Smith Jr. airballed a jumper, then Spencer Dinwittie hit a three while on the Nets logo near mid court. The Mavericks weren’t about to be outdone, though, as Jameel Warney collected his own free throw miss and found Dirk Nowitzki for a long three of his own. The Nets sharp shooting continued though, as Brooklyn built up a 13 point lead. Dallas attempted to work into the Net lead but were unable to stop any Nets player in the lane for most of the period. After Jarrett Allen gave Brooklyn a 57-47 lead with 2:30 to play, the Mavericks went on a 9-2 run to close out the quarter through Jonathan Motley and Jalen Jones. Dallas trailed 59-56 at the half.
Dallas stuck it to the Nets in the third quarter, tying the game by the 8:30 mark, then building up a 10 point lead half way through the quarter. The Nets were simply unable to connect on good looks and the Mavericks found little resistance for the first half the quarter. Brooklyn eventually righted the ship and retook the lead with 2:30 remaining. Neither team played effective defense the rest of the quarter and Dallas took a 89-88 lead into the fourth.
After scoring nearly 90 points in the first 36 minutes, the Dallas Mavericks went cold in the fourth. Pair that with the news that Dennis Smith Jr. would not return following a third quarter ankle roll and the Mavericks looked out of gas by the middle of the period. A quick 7-0 run in the open minutes put the Mavericks on their heels and they would not lead again following a Caris LeVert lay up at the 9:38 mark. Dallas kept things within striking distance after Brooklyn build up a double digit let, but eventually fell to the Nets 114-106.
Dennis Smith, Jr., doing stuff
There was a great back to back sequence in the first quarter which really highlighted why so many people are excited about the future for Dennis Smith. Around the six minute mark, Smith got into the lane, coming from the left elbow, and left an oop pass for Dwight Powell to flush. The very next play he made the same hard dribble, but this time his defender over compensated and took too far a step back. Smith rose up and knocked down a wide open jumper.
It’s these uses of his speed and quickness that are really fun to watch. As he grows, learns the tendencies of his defenders, and gets surrounded with better teammates, I hope the results of his already sound decision making are even more fruitful. There’s plenty of reasons to stay excited about Dennis Smith, Jr.