It had the makings of a trap game. The Philadelphia 76ers, fresh off an exhilarating Friday night victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers to extend their win streak to 13 games, welcomed the lowly Dallas Mavericks to town for a Sunday matinee.
As expected for a noon tip, both teams struggled out of the gate early. Thanks to a seven point quarter from Dorian Finney-Smith, the Mavs were able to take 14-13 lead with about five minutes left in the quarter, but the 76ers seemed to find their legs from that point on. Ben Simmons and JJ Redick both scored six points to propel Philadelphia to a 28-20 lead after the first quarter.
The Mavs started the second quarter by trimming the lead to three a few times. Barnes finally found his stroke, hitting a jumper, getting to the basket and earning a trip to the free throw line. But the 76ers responded to the Mavericks chipping away at the lead with a 14-0 run midway through the second quarter. At one point Philadelphia pushed the lead to as big as 19. The Mavs were able to keep the game from getting completely out of hand with Doug McDermott’s sharp shooting as he scored eighth points in the quarter. Dennis Smith Jr. also put together a fine first half scoring 10 points, grabbing four rebounds and dishing four assists. The 76ers took a 61-48 lead into half behind the future Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons 10 points and eight assists.
Whatever Rick Carlisle told the team at halftime seemed to work the because the Mavericks put together a solid third quarter. For most of the third frame, Dallas was able to trade baskets with Philadelphia, but toward the end of the quarter the Mavs rattled off a 13-2 run to cut the lead to four, with the 76ers narrowly leading 80-76. Smith Jr. was fantastic scoring eight points in the quarter to give him 18 for the game, to go along with six assists and five rebounds. Philadelphia responded by scoring the last five points of the quarter to create some breathing room and go into the fourth with a 85-76 lead.
The 76ers continued the late third quarter push to string together a 15-2 run to give them a 95-78 lead with a little under nine minutes left in the game. The Mavs really couldn’t close the gap after the 76ers started the final frame strong, and Philadelphia went on to a franchise-tying 14th straight victory. JJ Redick led the 76ers with 18 points, and Ben Simmons chipped in 16 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. With the loss, the Mavericks fall to 24-57. Harrison Barnes paced Dallas with 21 points but struggled shooting 9-25 from the field.
Some teams live by the three or die by the three, and the Mavs died by the three this afternoon. The team shot 11-40 (28 percent), and while Philadelphia shot an equally miserable 29 percent, the Mavs attempted 13 more triples. Combine that with the 76ers outscoring the Mavericks 58-48 in the paint, and the Mavs really shot themselves out of the game.
Dennis Smith Jr. bounced back
After a seven point (2-12) scoring night against the Detroit Pistons, the team was probably looking for Smith Jr. to respond, and he did just that. He finished the second to last game of his rookie season with 20 points, 11 assists and five rebounds. He was instrumental in the Mavericks cutting the lead to as little as three points in the third quarter, and he continually set up his teammates through the entire game. There were some rough patches, but for the most part, this has been a fantastic season for the ninth overall pick. He has one more game to put the cherry on top of his individual campaign.
Johnathan Motley was quiet
Rick giveth, and Rick taketh away. After putting up 26 points and 12 rebounds against the Pistons, Carlisle curiously played Motley for 16 minutes. The undrafted rookie didn’t look bad in his limited playing time. He had four points and five rebounds, and he was active as usual in the paint. Motley’s situation this entire season has been confusing, so I guess this really shouldn’t come as a surprise, but with nothing to play for and the Mavs down double digits for most of the game, it seems weird for Motley to only play 16 minutes. Maybe it was just maintenance after he played 81 minutes in the past two games combined.
BONUS TANK INTEL
Somehow, the Hawks beat the Celtics meaning Atlanta and Dallas (24-57) are tied with the third worst lottery odds. Tuesday’s showdown between Dallas and Phoenix could be huuuuuge because the Hawks are about to run into the Philadelphia 76ers buzzsaw.