The Mavericks offense received a jolt of energy with Kristaps Porzingis back on the floor and played a tremendous first quarter. The Mavericks were active on defense and knocked down open jump shots early. The Mavericks went on to play a clean half, committing only one turnover, forcing six and connecting on 37 percent from three while scoring 28 points in the paint.
The Hornets regathered at the break, raced out to a 12-0 run in the third and even cut a 22-point lead to nine halfway through. But Luka Doncic turned up the sliders and dominated the rest of the way. He scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the frame alone as Dallas held an 87-72 lead after three quarters.
The Mavericks stayed the course in the fourth, and the game wasn’t as close as the final score indicates. The Mavericks have now held five opponents to under 100 points as the Hornets sputtered to 93 points on 38 percent shooting from the field.
Here’s what we saw as the game unfolded:
We’re back to regular ridiculous stat lines from Doncic, who stuffed the stat sheet with 34 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists, four blocks and two steals. The defensive numbers are eye-popping but not shocking. Doncic is locked in on the defensive end right now, taking his game to another level. He’s a tone-setter, and the Mavericks followed suit as he wreaked havoc on both ends of the floor. It looked like the Mavericks were going to let the Hornets climb back in the game in the third, but Doncic took over to keep Charlotte at bay.
With five role players out for health and safety protocols, the Mavericks would have done well to grind out a victory. Doncic ensured this game was over in the third. He was that good.
Josh Green did things
After not doing much of anything against Orlando in a starting role, Green was relegated to the second unit. He responded nicely with five points and five rebounds (three offensive), and he displayed a lot of the qualities that endeared him to the Mavericks before the draft. While his cyclone-type energy got him in trouble every game before this, it worked in his favor as he crashed the offensive boards and ran the floor on the break. He even shrewdly drew a charge after getting caught behind a big near the basket.
Green’s development is important as he’ll be one of few Mavericks' first-round picks for a long time. Tonight was a nice showing, but I’m not sure he can dunk.
Porzingis is back
It was Porzingis’ first game since the playoff series against the Clippers, and for the most part looked like himself. He only played 21 minutes but scored 16 points, grabbed four rebounds and swatted two shots. Though the Mavericks started Willie Cauley-Stein with Porzingis, the offense was smooth and generated open looks early on.
The Mavericks survived Porzingis’ absence, but a healthy Unicorn could launch the Mavericks to another tier. Even though the team was missing two starters and three key bench players, the potent combo of Porzingis and Doncic proved enough to put away the Hornets.