The Mavericks defeated the Detroit Pistons Friday night, 106-101. The young guys came up huge for Dallas, with Luka Doncic posting a line of 32-8-8, with two steals and a block, and Dennis Smith scoring 19 to go along with five assists. Blake Griffin was everything for the Pistons in defeat, scoring 35 points, grabbing seven rebounds, and dishing out four assists.
Early in the game Dennis Smith Jr. had it rolling in a big way. In that first quarter he shot 5-6 for 11 points with 3 assists as well. He pushed the pace and brought his A-game from the jump.
Even with a big early Dennis boost the Pistons surged to an early lead. A big second quarter from Luka Doncic saw the Mavericks come back and keep the game close through the rest of the game.
Down the stretch big plays from Maxi Kleber on defense and Luka Doncic on offense resulted in the Mavericks coming away with a a 106-101 victory.
Dennis Smith Jr. is stating his case to be a Maverick
Two games back for Smith and two solid performances. After pouring in 13 points in the open quarter, Smith had a more reserved role in the final three quarters. We’re all at the point where watching Smith develop is far more interesting than seeing Harrison Barnes drive for the Nth time into traffic. Let’s hope these two games are the start of something exceptional for Smith in the second half of the year.
Blake Griffin is really good at basketball and an absolute physical monster.
There was a play late in the third quarter where Luka Doncic tried to draw a charge on Griffin going at full speed. Luka is 6’8 215 pounds and Griffin barely slowed down when he hit Doncic. Griffin dominated from the post, with his passing, and his three point shooting ability. Dallas could only double him and hope the other Pistons missed open looks.
The Ringer posted a story today, arguing the Mavericks should consider trading for Griffin, and the game tonight is a strong reminder of just how talented Griffin is.
Luka Doncic may have busted out of his short shooting slump
With 24 points, including 9-11 shooting on free throws and 3-6 from deep through three quarters, it appears the shooting slump may be over for Doncic. Luka got himself going early, scoring his first two baskets at the rim. Dallas also made a point to get him some easy looks, either on designed plays or via his teammates finding him on cuts. Doncic may be too in love with his step back as he passed up a few catch and shoot chances only to dribble, step back, and miss the attempt. But at this point I’m nit picking a 32 point effort, matching his second highest output of the season.
Pay Maxi Kleber
With just under four minutes to go Maxi Kleber checked back into the game with 5 fouls to slow down Blake Griffin. His first possession back he stood up Griffin and denied him at the rim. Doncic grabbed the rebound and pushed the transition offense and Kleber hit a wide open triple to give the Mavericks a five point lead.
It’s frustrating that it took Rick Carlisle to realize that when he’s on the floor, Kleber’s play results in good things for the Mavericks. But we’re here now. If the Mavericks hope to have any chance at making the playoffs, Kleber is going to have a role. Come this off-season the Mavericks should make him a strong offer to keep him in Dallas.