The final score is largely deceptive, as Dallas was never able to really open up much of a lead for the majority of the game. Then, just when you thought it was going to come down to the wire, players like Maxi Kleber, Delon Wright, and Jalen Brunson hit some timely 3s in the fourth to open up a double digit lead the team was able to ride to a victory.
The Mavericks got most of their early offense from the returning Tim Hardaway Jr, who had 13 points on a perfect 5/5 in the first quarter. A welcome sight after he missed the last three games. Through the Rest of the game, the Dallas largely leaned on the efforts of the inimitable Luka Doncic. What else can be said? he had 38 points in the process of a 38/10/11 triple double night.
The Bulls stayed competitive thanks to a, dare I say it, rather Mavs-ian team scoring output where six players contributed double digit points. Lauri Markkanen lead the way with 26 points.
Help from his friends
Even in a game that, in the end, feels like another instance of Luka Magic willing the team to a victory, it was nice that the return of Tim Hardaway Jr meant that, even if just for a quarter, someone else could shoulder the scoring burden.
THJ showed no signs of rust in his perfect opening frame and established a Dallas lead that they would be fighting to hold on to throughout the night. Things have been rough without Hardaway Jr and Porzingis - not only their scoring punch, but those two are also Luka’s favorite targets for assists. Porzingis has received 51 dimes from Doncic, and 49 for THJ. The flow of the offense was looking better with THJ back alongside Luka.
Luka’s 3rd quarter
As previously mentioned, this was a game that never felt like it was safely in hand. However, the beginning of the end for the Bulls came in the 3rd quarter. Just after drawing even at 69 all (not nice), Luka unleashed a barrage of buckets that righted Dallas’ ship. The Mavericks scored 27 points in the 3rd - Doncic scored 21 of them himself. A heroic effort that gave Dallas a lead they would never let go of.
The performance drew chants of “MVP!” from those in attendance, and who am I to call 19,000+ people liars?
The defense misses Porzingis
As much as the Mavericks have recently find themselves in a scoring rut that sure seems like it can only be solved by a 7’3” sweet-shooting Latvian, perhaps tonight the biggest KP-sized hole the Mavericks struggled to fill was his presence in the paint.
The Bulls absolutely, um... bullied the Mavericks down low, bless Dwight Powell’s heart. All said, Chicago got a whopping 72 of their 110 points in the paint, and a large chunk of those came from easy dunks.
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.