Basketball is back, baby!
But the first quarter was about as ugly as it gets with the Wizards taking a 25-24 lead. The Mavericks’ jump shots were flat, the team was out rebounded 14-9, and the lack of ball security was discouraging. However, Dallas was able to weather the body blows thanks to Kristaps Porzingis’ nine points to stay within reach after one.
The Mavericks blew the doors open in the second quarter on the backs of Jalen Brunson and Justin Jackson racing out to an 11-2 run and never quite looked back. Luka Doncic asserted his will on his way to 20 first half points and the bench obliterated the Wizards in the second quarter as the Mavericks took a 62-51 lead into the break.
The third quarter saw the Mavericks slowly, methodically chip away at the Wizards’ defense and almost put the nail in the coffin as the frame wound to a close. But the Mavericks let off the gas a tad in the fourth and saw a 23 point lead cut in half as the Wizards got chippy and mucked the game up. But Washington drew the short end of the stick when Bradley Beal got ejected on questionable technical foul calls on the Wizards superstar.
The game got within single digits, but the Mavericks were able to close the door shut and outlast the Wizards’ spirited comeback attempt to win 108-100 in the season opener. They put an exclamation point on the end of this game with a thrilling Brunson lob to Porzingis that electrified the crowd:
Beal paced Washington with 19 points, six rebounds and nine assists while Doncic led all scorers with 34 points.
Here are some observations from the season opener.
And a cold chill shivered down the spine of the NBA. After a historic rookie season, many wondered how Doncic’s encore would play. If tonight is any indication, Doncic might insert himself into the top-15 player in the NBA conversation.
Doncic was nothing short of sensational, abusing the Wizards with 34 points and nine rebounds on 12-of-19 shooting (4-of-9 from three). The reigning rookie of the year imposed his will from the opening tip, manipulating the defense like a puppeteer pulling the strings of his toy. Doncic’s hyper-efficient shooting night opened up the entire paint for him to waltz his way to the basket time and time again.
Like last season, Doncic flung surgical passes to shooters in the open corner, but shots did not go down *cough* Courtney Lee *cough*. But the looks are good, and Doncic’s command of the floor is exceptional.
KP teased his potential
Similar to the preseason, Porzingis got off to a rocky start missing all four of his initial attempts before finding his groove to score nine first quarter points. It should always have been anticipated the former Knick would get off to a slow start after a 20 month hiatus, but seeing him connect on three of his seven triples was encouraging as well as going six of seven at the free throw line. In the end, Porzingis finished with 23 points on 7-of-16 shooting.
Porzingis is such a luxury with his quick, high release in that he can get his shot off in virtually any situation. Having a secondary shot creator like that is something Dallas has lacked since maybe Jason Terry. Porzingis’ biggest blemish in his debut was his rebounding. Collecting only four rebounds in 29 minutes is a problem, and it almost came back to bite Dallas when the Wizards cut the lead to seven late in the fourth.
Jalen Brunson plays down the stretch
After interesting preseason rotations, Brunson logged 24 minutes and scored nine points with four rebounds and three assists. He struggled to shoot the ball, but Rick Carlisle trusted him to finish the game out over nominal starter Delon Wright. Throughout the entire game, Brunson piloted a blazing bench unit that severely outplayed their counterpart.
Dallas employed an interesting wrinkle with Brunson setting ball screens for Doncic as the Wizards continually trapped him. In one instance Doncic found Brunson for an open three, but it was relieving to see the ball leave Doncic’s hands and land into another playmaker’s grasp. Brunson’s development is crucial to the Mavericks’ success, so getting crunch time minutes was a nice development.
The Mavericks take on the Zion-less Pelicans Friday night in what should be a tough outing in New Orleans.
If you missed pre-season, we’ll be podcasting right after games this season. We’ll try to keep it short, but if possible, go to your favorite podcast feed and subscribe to the Mavs Moneyball Podcast. Here’s MMB After Dark in case you cant see the embedded pod below.