To say it wasn’t pretty is an understatement.
The Mavericks eked out a 107-106 win against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night. Luka Doncic led the Mavericks with 27 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and six turnovers. Orlando’s Jonathan Issac stuffed the stat sheet with a 13 point, 10 rebound, five assist, six block and four steal stat line.
The game ultimately resulted in a missed last second shot attempt by Nikola Vucevic after a plethora of turnovers by both teams, sending the Mavericks to their first 5-2 start since the 2011 championship season.
A win is a win
Listen, I know that was brutal, BUT... a win is a win. The Mavericks didn’t make it easy on themselves tonight. Orlando however, “out-lossed” Dallas tonight. Aaron Gordon and Luka Doncic competed in a game of who could turn the ball over more in crunch time, while Rick Carlisle sent Seth Curry to shoot the game-clinching free throws after sitting on the bench for over two hours of real time. It was a mess, but the good guys won.
These are the games that are important to win, and ones Dallas has recently lost in past seasons. Good teams find a way to win despite poor performances, and that’s exactly what happened tonight.
Ultimately, it wasn’t pretty, and I’d definitely have a lot more to say if Vucevic’s final shot falls; but an ugly win is still a win.
The start of this game was ugly and frankly hard to watch. In the first eight and a half minutes, the Mavericks scored 12 points, shot 18 percent from the field, and turned the ball over seven times. Gross. Luckily, the Magic sent the Mavs to the free throw line ten times allowing them to keep it close.
Justin Jackson and Tim Hardaway Jr. came off the bench and finally put the ball in the basket, but the hole was already too deep. It is vital for the Mavericks’ starting lineup to produce in the opening minutes. Unfortunately, this load seems to fall on Luka’s shoulders. If Luka starts slow, Dallas has started slow. The four other starters, and Porzingis in particular, must step up and began to produce off the jump. How much of this is due to the revolving door of starting lineups? Not sure. Let’s hope they figure it out.
Jose Juan Barea!
Have no fear, J.J. Barea is here.
I am on record saying that Barea shouldn’t play many minutes this season - simply because Brunson is better, and needs more playing time to continue to develop. Sheesh, was that fun though. With the Mavericks desperately needing a spark, Barea received his first minutes of the season tonight - checking in with 7:36 left in the second quarter. After a minute or two of finding his bearings, Barea quickly brought American Airlines Center to their feet - dazzling fans and teammates scoring eleven straight points and dishing out three assists.
It is truly remarkable how quickly Barea has seem to recovered from his Achilles injury last January. While the minutes seem sparse this season, his role remains vital on and off the court. Off? Remain a leader continuing to carry forth the culture that was built by Dirk during their years together. On? Always being ready. Tonight was his first test, and Barea provided the very spark needed to ignite the Mavericks’ stagnant offense.
The coolest night of the year
In the coolest thing the Mavericks do, they hosted the Orlando Magic tonight during their annual “Seats for Soldiers” Night. A night where Maverick season ticket holders donate their seats for more than one hundred injured service members.
This is the 15th year the Mavericks have honored these veterans, and one that both Rick Carlisle and the team look forward to every year.
Carlisle stated today, “It provides motivation. You see a lot of folks who are injured due to their service, and you can never thank them enough. It’s a great gesture for our courtside season ticket holders to give up their seats. It’s a very, very special night for all the military folks who are there. We look forward to it with great anticipation every year.”
The motivation is obvious, as the Mavericks improved to winning 13 of their 15 games played on this special night.
The Mavericks and Kristaps Porzingis look to improve to 6-2 against his former New York Knicks this Friday night at 7:30 CT.
Here’s the postgame podcast, Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you can’t see the embed below, click here. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe by searching “Mavs Moneyball podcast” into your favorite podcast app.