Holy crap, the Mavericks lost that game? The Mavericks lost that game!
Dallas played all its horses, even gave Dirk crunch-time fourth quarter minutes and STILL managed to find a way to lose a game to a Chicago Bulls team that traded its best player at the trade deadline and is sitting their best big for “player development.” Bulls beat Mavericks 108-100.
It was pretty stunning when you consider the Mavericks scored the first 10 points of the game and were cruising throughout. The Mavs pushed their lead past 15 and looked like they were going to have no trouble against a defenseless Bulls team missing its best rim protector.
So, about that.
Everything fell apart in the fourth quarter. Dennis Smith Jr.’s fantastic night died down, Dallas couldn’t buy a bucket and Bobby Portis tried to ended Dwight Powell’s life. Here’s what we took away from this one
Dennis Smith Jr. had a great game (mostly)
Smith’s didn’t stuff the box score like he has in past games, but this was by far the best he looked going toward the rim, finishing with 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting.
Things dried up late as the Mavericks hit their typical fourth quarter spell, but it’s hard not to get excited about what Smith did through the first three quarters, slicing his way through a bunch of rangy Chicago perimeter defenders. Sure, the Bulls didn’t really play with a great shot-blocker, but it was still great to see Smith finish in the paint at a variety of angles and with both hands, something which has eluded him most of the season.
Smith’s ugly shot selection reared its head in the fourth quarter and he missed some crucial free throws, so it sullied a bit of what was mostly a great night.
Harrison Barnes is doing things again
Barnes has been far too quiet since the calendar flipped to 2018, but the last two games have looked great for him. He had 26 against the Bulls on, crucially, 19 shots. That doesn’t seem so impressive, but the seven free throw attempts were.
He also grabbed seven rebounds and dished two assists. Nothing world-beating, but Barnes had been in a funk so it was nice to see him flex a little.
Dirk can still get it
Dirk Nowitzki is shooting just over 42 percent from three this season and it’s a damn career-high. Dirk is a treasure. Dirk is forever.
He had 18 tonight on 5-of-8 from three. He even got some clutch minutes, which is something he hasn’t done much of all this season. Whatever you think about the tank efforts, watching Dirk fill it up will never get old.
Holy crap though, what a tank effort
The Mavericks played all their dudes. They played everyone in crunch time and still lost. This was the inverse of the win against the Lakers, where the Mavs played Maxi Kleber and Salah Mejri up front and still beat the Lakers.
While we try not to root for losses over here, this result was good for the Mavs, like it or not. Orlando won earlier tonight and as of publication, Phoenix is beating Oklahoma City. The bottom of the standings are so close, every win and loss is huge.
The Mavericks aren’t going to change, especially after Mark Cuban’s fine, so the best thing is to just try and enjoy the Mavs where you can. Enjoy Smith’s growth and Powell’s second-half surge. Everything else is just going to take care of itself and there’s nothing you can do to change the Mavs’ mind.