The Dallas Mavericks hosted the Indiana Pacers Wednesday night, with the Mavs looking for their 27th win and the Pacers looking to stay locked in to that 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Dallas entered play having lost five in a row, and another loss would have equaled their longest losing streak of the season at six.
WES MATTHEWS RETURNS TO DALLAS
One of the game’s more notable subplots was the return of former starter Wesley Matthews, who returned to face the Mavs for the first time since being traded to New York in the Kristaps Porzingis trade. Matthews had been bought out by the Knicks, freeing him up to sign with a playoff contender like Indiana. Wes clearly relished the chance to show up against his old team, and hit Dallas with 20 points on 13 shots, including a pair of threes late to try help mount a furious Pacer comeback.
PAIR OF ROOKIES SHINE FOR DALLAS
Matthews defensive assignment at the other end was his former teammate Luka Doncic, who had an up-and-down night yet still managed to finish with 26-10-7, including a couple of late daggers to secure the win. Just as important was the other Mavs’ rookie, Jalen Brunson, who started and poured in a career high 24 points and 5 assists, including a Doncic-esque stepback of his own down the stretch. When Brunson is hitting threes(something he wasn’t doing earlier in the season but has come on strong), he’s a pretty dangerous offensive weapon in his own right.
DIRK CLOSING IN ON WILT
Like Brunson, Dirk Nowitzki was back in the starting lineup Wednesday, and the Big German tossed in three three-pointers for nine of his 11 points, moving ever closer to passing the great Wilt Chamberlain on the All-Time scoring list. Treasure all the Luka-to-Dirk trail threes we have left, folks.
TIM HARDAWAY JR LEAVES HIS MARK
The third Maverick to score at least 20 points should go mentioned, as newcomer Tim Hardaway Jr. had one of his better games as a Mav, with 20 points and four threes. THJ was also a team-high +19, as he caught fire as the team re-took the lead in the second half. It remains to be seen what kind of role Hardaway is going to have on the team next season, but it’s clear that he can score points in bunches when he’s in rhythm, and Dallas doesn’t have an abundance of shooters to take minutes from him right now.
Dallas improves to 27-34 on the season and continues their strong play at home, with a 21-10 record at the AAC. The Mavericks will have two days off before taking on the Memphis Grizzlies Saturday in Dallas. That will be a game worth watching, as both teams are in a similar position in the standings and the outcome will play into the draft lottery.