The Mavericks won a game on the road. This is not a drill. I repeat: The Mavericks won a road game.
After a pitiful New Year’s Eve performance against the Oklahoma city Thunder, Dallas welcomed the new year and a chance to start 2019 on the right foot. As the Mavericks’ road woes are well documented, it was important for them to secure a victory against the Charlotte Hornets with road games against the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers looming.
What a victory this was as the Mavericks knocked out the Hornets early en route to a 122-84 victory. Luka Doncic paved the way for Dallas with a quiet, yet well-rounded 18 point, 10 rebound and four assist performance. Kemba Walker paced the Hornets with 11 points which shows just how pathetic the Hornets looked.
The Mavericks move to 18-19 on the season and collect just their third road win while the Hornets slip to 18-19 as well.
Here’s what we saw in this classic beatdown:
Dennis Smith Jr. was glad to be home
Aside from a few mental hiccups, Smith has played well in his return from injury, and tonight was another step in the right direction in his home state of North Carolina. Earlier, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News tweeted some dialogue between he and Smith about the second-year guards’ health.
Dennis Smith Jr. of Fayetteville, N.C., on being back in his home state: "Yeah, I had a runny nose, a mean cough, my stomach was hurting, headache, a little fever, about 110 degrees. So when we landed, I was back to normal. Seriously.” 110 degrees? "Yeah, I was on the brink, bro"— Eddie Sefko (@ESefko) January 2, 2019
Not even a 110 degree fever was going to stop Smith from showing out in front of family and friends, and man, did he play a great game. He finished with 18 points, seven assists, three steals and only two turnovers in only 22 minutes of play. He also connected on 6-of-10 from the field including 3-of-5 from deep. The efficient long-range shooting has been a trend this season, and since his return from injury he’s made 9-of-17 from three.
But Smith also showed a fantastic command of the floor tonight which is something he’s struggled with the majority of the season. Tonight, when Smith peeled off a screen he finally realized a man was open in the corner because the defender on the weak side collapsed to take away the roll man. He has missed that read most of the season, so it was encouraging watching him sling that pass tonight. He was also aggressive in the open floor.He had a nice pace and flow when he pushed the tempo. Also, while the Hornets as a whole struggled immensely, it might be worth noting Smith’s opposing counterpart, Kemba Walker, made only four of his 14 field goal attempts and scored 11 points.
With Dad sitting courtside, Smith put together his best game of the season.
This was over in the first quarter
For the first few minutes of the first quarter, both of these teams threw a few jabs at each other. The lead changed a few times, and the Hornets even held a 16-12 lead at one point. But in the second half of the opening quarter, the Mavericks threw a thunderous haymaker and the Hornets never really recovered. It started from deep where the Mavericks cashed in 10-of-17 triples which was a franchise record for made threes in one quarter.
Another encouraging development in the first quarter was the play of Luka Doncic and Smith. The two combined for 19 points in the quarter with Smith pumping in 10 and Doncic 9. They played well off of each other and exhibited the chemistry the organization envisioned when the club paired the two blue-chip prospects together.
Charlotte was a dumpster fire
The Mavericks will take a win no matter how they can get it, and with the Hornet’s second leading scorer (Jeremy Lamb) and starting center (Cody Zeller) out with injuries, the Mavericks took advantage and dominated for 95 percent of this game. The Hornets shot 36 percent from the field and 18 percent from three. Charlotte was out rebounded by 11 and turned the ball over 14 times. While Dallas can’t take all the credit (NBA teams don’t shoot 18 percent from three), it was nice to see the Mavericks jump on the Hornets early, then bury them by the third quarter.