The Dallas Mavericks improved to 19-9 Friday, defeating the Philadelphia 76ers 117-98. Kristaps Porzingis led an impressive team performance with 22 points and a career high 18 rebounds. Joel Embiid scored 33 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in defeat.
The game started looking a bit grim for the Mavericks. The length of the Sixers’ line up paired with some early turnovers from Dallas seemed like a recipe for a Philadelphia blowout. After the Sixers went up 13-5, Kristaps Porzingis dunked out of a timeout and Dallas settled down. The Mavericks caught all the way back up with Sixers, then Tim Hardaway happened. The hot and cold shooting guard caught fire in a massive way, hitting all five three pointers in the period. While Joel Embiid had 12 points and eight rebounds in the quarter, the Dallas zone defense left the rest of the Sixers befuddled as they committed seven turnovers. A late catch and shoot jumper from the Accountant Ryan Broekhoff allowed Dallas to take a 35-28 lead after one.
Bench units played to a general standstill in the first four minutes of the second quarter. A mixed unit for the Dallas Mavericks, led by Delon Wright and Kristaps Porzingis absolutely torched the Sixers for a big chunk of the frame, going up 17 at one point. In the final three minutes, Philadephia caught fire from deep, hitting four threes and closing on a 17-6 run. Despite stellar play from the Mavericks offensively, the Sixers actually managed to gain ground in the quarter. The Mavericks led at the half, 63-57.
After settling a bit to end the second quarter, Joel Embiid and the Sixers appeared ready to take command of the game in the opening minutes of the third. After letting the lead whittle down to two points, the Mavericks finally got on the board and found their rhythm again. Maxi Kleber added his spark off the bench, hitting a three and driving for an and-one past Embiid. The Sixers scored some but couldn’t stop the Mavericks as the quarter wore along. A broken play on the second to last possession of the frame resulted in a Seth Curry three and Dallas took a 88-77 lead into the fourth.
Dallas paced the Sixers for most of the early part of the fourth quarter. A brief run pulled Philadelphia within seven points, but a stellar Rick Carlisle timeout took the energy out of the building. Dallas rebuild a double digit lead despite a variety of Sixer attempts and offensive rebounds. Tim Hardaway Jr. heated back up in the final frame with a pair of threes which effectively ended any Sixer chance of a comeback.
Now, some additional thoughts:
Dallas doesn’t settle
The length of the Sixers was a clear concern coming into this road game, particularly without Luka Doncic. The Mavericks, however, were clearly unfazed and proceeded to trust their own offensive process. Dallas got great looks and continually probed the Sixers’ defense all night.
Being on fire from beyond the arc certainly helped (more on Tim Hardaway Jr. later), but this was an outstanding game from start to finish for the Mavericks.
Kristaps Porzingis continues to step it up
This was an absolutely spectacular performance from Kristaps Porzingis, perhaps his most thorough in a Mavericks uniform, as he poured in 22 points and grabbed a career high 18 boards.
As one who was hard on his early season performance, his play during Luka Doncic’s absence as outpaced even my raised expectations. He’s trusting what Dallas wants to do on offense, he’s attacking the rim both with and without the ball with a ferocity, and defensively he’s everything the Mavericks could have wanted on defense.
In fact, defensively he’s among the league’s most impactful players at the rim. There are not many players who challenge five shots or more per game at the rim and Porzingis is one of the three best in terms of an opponent’s field goal percentage.
Winning the battle of the boards against the Sixers is incredible
Philadelphia leads the league in rebounding percentage, grabbing 53 percent of rebounds available in a given game. Dallas is 9th at 51.4 percent. Considering the size disparity in line ups (something I keep mentioning, I know), that Dallas out-rebounded the Sixers by three is a key reason why they walk away with a victory.
The highs and lows of Tim Hardaway Jr.
Coming into the Sixer game, Hardaway was three of his last 15 from deep and just five of his last 27 over all from the field. He started out the evening looking rough and bothered by the Sixer length. Then, of course, he came alive and put Philadelphia on the ropes in the first, hitting all five of his threes. While he did go cold in the second and third quarters, his big threes in the fourth quarter helped put the Sixers away. Dallas has so many options that they don’t need his scoring, but when he scores 20 or more the Mavericks are pretty close to unbeatable.
The bench is so much fun
The fact that Ryan Broekhoff can come off the bench for his first significant amount of playing time all year and make an impact is pretty thrilling. That Maxi Kleber can wreck Joel Embiid with a three and multiple drives at the rim is applause worthy. When Delon Wright fills the box score (8 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals) against one of the league’s biggest line ups, you simply shake your head.
And this doesn’t even mention the bounce back game (at least in terms of steady play) from Jalen Brunson, since he’s been a starter.
Road wins! Road wins!
11-2 on the road is ASTOUNDING. They only won 9 road games each of the last two seasons.
Here’s the postgame podcast, Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you can’t see the embed below “More from Mavs Moneyball”, click here. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe by searching “Mavs Moneyball podcast” into your favorite podcast app.