The Dallas Mavericks traded haymakers all night with the New Orleans Pelicans and walked away with an important overtime victory, 127-123. Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis combined for 64 points in the victory, while Brandon Ingram punished the Mavericks for 27 points in defeat.
Lonzo Ball came out firing for the Pelican, connecting on a pair of early threes. The Mavericks tried to keep pace but looked out of sorts, with the one exception of an awesome Luka Doncic to Kristaps Porzingis ally-oop. After getting to double digits, neither team scored well for a chunk of the quarter. The Mavericks took a timeout with the Pelicans going up 14-7 and while Hardaway missed a drive out of the timeout, Luka Doncic hit one of two free throws and a step back three over Zion to bring the Mavericks to life. Seth Curry came in off the bench as well during the stretch to give Dallas another scoring option. A pair of late threes from Porzingis and Seth Curry gave Dallas the 24-22 lead heading into the next frame.
Dallas came out firing in the second quarter, scoring seven quick points in the opening 66 seconds. Lonzo Ball continued his confident shooting, connecting on two threes of his own allowing the Pelicans to keep within range. The Mavericks, led by Seth Curry’s hot shooting, continued to inch ahead, leading by as many as nine points halfway through the frame. But the Pelicans kept coming, hitting long threes or second chance shots and despite Dallas losing and gaining the lead repeatedly, only led by two to close out the half. A more offensive minded quarter resulted in Dallas taking a 57-55 lead into the break.
The third continued the trend, with the Mavericks building a lead, then watching it slip away. Despite Luka Doncic getting Jrue Holiday into foul trouble, Dallas (mainly Luka) played sloppy basketball for most of the frame. The Pelicans took their first lead since the first quarter, though it wouldn’t be for long. Threes from Porzingis and Doncic retook the lead which they took into the final period, 87-85.
Things got dicey for Dallas in the fourth. With so many injured players, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle had to keep playing his starters past his normal rotation. Doncic in particular looked gassed and got taken to the rack on back to back possessions. The Mavericks found a spark off the bench with Delon Wright hitting three shots from behind the arc to keep ahead of New Orleans. Dallas kept just ahead of the Pelicans but were unable to extend the lead for most of the quarter. Brandon Ingram caught fire late and put the Pelicans up three with just over 90 seconds remaining. A Kleber dunk and a Seth Curry three allowed Dallas to retake the lead, but the Pelicans managed to tie it up on a late three as the Mavericks inexcusably did not foul. We got free basketball as Porzingis failed to connect on a game winner. Regulation ended 112-112.
In what felt like the end of a boxing match with two exhausted fighters, the Pelicans and Mavericks traded baskets repeatedly. Doncic hit a massive step back with 1:10 remaining. Following Zion Williams hitting one of two from the line, Doncic found a rolling Porzingis for a huge slam to give Dallas a four point lead. After a Holiday dunk to pull the Pelicans within two, Luka put Holiday in a spin cycle, kicked to Maxi Kleber for a three, then tipped out the rebound to Tim Hardaway to effectively seal the game. Following some Porzingis free throws, the Mavericks walk away with a 127-123 overtime victory.
Now, some additional thoughts... where to begin!
The Mavericks won a clutch game!
This was the first Dallas victory this season after trailing at any point with 4 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Josh Bowe told me so, so if I’m wrong, blame him. That is an incredible stat.
We know the Dallas crunch-time struggles, so to see them pull out a victory in a variety of ways was just so delightful. Between the fourth quarter execution and Luka Doncic absolutely dominating the final minutes of over time, there’s a lot to be happy about. Plus, just take a minute to watch what Doncic did to Holiday, who is an incredible defender:
#MFFL— MavsHighlights (@MavsHighlights) March 5, 2020
what did Luka just do to Jrue? pic.twitter.com/JcBHC6lvl4
All hail the defense of Maxi Kleber and Kristaps Porzingis
If you happened to miss the game and see Zion Williamson’s box score, you might be confused here. It cannot be explained adequately in words how awesome Maxi Kleber was in man defense against Zion. His five blocks were incredible, as was his sheer effort on boxing out. No one, and I mean no one, has played Williamson that well yet this season in straight up man.
That didn’t mention the brilliant help defense of Kristaps, who had five blocks of his own this game. The two of them bottled Williamson up for most of the contest and were key in the victory.
Keep getting the ball to Kristaps please
Posting a stat line of 34 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, and five blocks needed it’s own section. That he was this effective while shooting a pedestrian percentage from three is all the more impressive. Though I think we’d like to see him get to the line a bit more, this is about as incredible a game from Porzingis as I could have imagined even a month and a half ago.
I’d love to see Luka feed him more on the pick and pops. Doncic holds the double team often looking for something else, which makes some sense, but Porzingis has been cooking. Let his feasting continue, I say.
Is it time to rest Doncic some?
This was in my notes well before Doncic went beast mode late in the game. Yet moving past his incredible stat line of 30 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists, it’s worth asking and not just because he had seven turnovers.
He looks tired. His left hand is hurt and he’s getting x-rays. The ankle may not be right, in fact it may not be well this season given how sprains work. Wrap all these things up and you have games like tonight where for big chunks of playing time, Doncic was actively bad. His defense, both on and off ball, should have cost Dallas the game.
Resting him is worth considering at least.
The injuries are getting challenging for Carlisle’s rotation
Dorian Finney-Smith left the game with a hip injury, forcing coach Rick Carlisle to play his available guys even more. With Dwight Powell out for the year, Jalen Brunson dealing with a shoulder injury, and J.J. Barea out with an ankle issue, the Mavericks played eight guys again.
That’s great for the playoffs but in-season, its concerning. It’s likley for the best that neither Boban Marjanovic or Justin Jackson saw any playing time, but perhaps Michael Kidd-Gilchrist should see more than the short burn he’s been getting.
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.