Lost in the turmoil of the NBA’s decision to suspend the regular season indefinitely Wednesday night is the fact that the Dallas Mavericks played a basketball game. The Denver Nuggets were in town for a crucial Western Conference showdown as each team jockeys for playoff seeding. Thanks to the play of one man in particular, the Mavericks were able to walk away with a 113-97 win.
Boban Marjanovic played the best game of his career. Starting the game and playing the most minutes of the season, Marjanovic absolutely worked his Serbian compatriot, Nikola Jokic, all night. No matter what they did, the Nuggets had no answer for the 7-foot-3 Hollywood star. He finished the night with a career-high 31 points on 12-for-20 shooting and 17 rebounds.
“As far as the game, this is one of the best regular season wins I have ever been a part of,” Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle said. “You are talking about mid-March and down a couple of guys. A bunch of guys stepped up that really haven’t been playing very much. Marjanovic was spectacular.”
It wasn’t just his offensive showing that was impressive. Marjanovic had an impact on the defensive end as well. He task was to make things hard for Jokic throughout the night and he seemingly did just that. Jokic, who is capable of scoring explosions didn’t have a dominant evening. He finished the night with just 14 points—including one Dirk-style one-legged fadeaway from the left baseline. While his night was efficient, he couldn’t overcome Boban.
All season, Carlisle and his teammates have spoken highly about Marjanovic. They often talk about his enthusiasm for the game and the levity his humor brings to the locker room. He may not get a chance to see the floor every game, but he keeps himself ready. When he does check in, he’s easily one of the most efficient players on the floor any given night.
It’s good to see Marjanovic make his presence emphatically felt. He works extremely hard every day and he rose to the occasion when his team needed him to help them get a crucial win. As he checked out of the game in the fourth quarter, the crowd rose to its feet and chanted “Bobi!” It’s hard to imagine a better way to enter a prolonged period of uncertainty for the league.
“Boban, I’ve been saying it all year, he’s a special guy,” J.J. Barea said. “He goes the hardest. He’s always trying to find people to play pickup basketball with in practices to stay ready for these kinds of games. It was a great matchup for him tonight and I think Coach did the right thing in starting him and we got the ‘W’.”