Both teams started hot in the first quarter, shooting more than 50 percent from the field and from deep, but it was the Mavericks who found another gear in the second quarter. Though Dallas stretched the lead to as many as 17, the team took a 10 point lead into the break.
The Mavericks had an opportunity to put the game away as the lead ballooned to 16 with less than five minutes in the third quarter, but the Spurs took advantage of sloppy Mavericks basketball to keep the lead at 10 heading into the final frame.
The Spurs were finally able to break the seal within the final quarter, trimming the lead to as little as two with about two minutes to play. While the Mavericks’ offense stalled, the Spurs chipped away and cut the lead to one on a DeMar DeRozan free throw. But Doncic saved his best for last, mixing up LaMarcus Aldridge before dropping in a bucket off the glass, and then finding Jalen Brunson for the dagger in the corner.
The Mavericks looked good for most of the game before stumbling late, but the team found a way to win. Here are some observations:
Luka Doncic almost, quite literally, did it all
We’re accustomed to the ridiculous performances, and tonight was no different. Doncic had a preposterous first quarter collecting 19 points, five rebounds, and six assists keeping the Mavericks’ PR team busy:
Per @ESPNStatsInfo, Luka Doncic’s three 15-5-5 quarters are the most of any player over the last 25 years. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the only other player who has two such quarters in that span. https://t.co/0YhJcuf64i— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) January 23, 2021
Doncic finished with 36 points, nine rebounds, 11 assists, and only two turnovers. Just when it looked like the Spurs were going to break the door down, Doncic closed it shut with a silky smooth turnaround jumper off the glass, then found Jalen Brunson in the corner on the next possession to put the Mavericks up six with less than 20 seconds. Before that Brunson triple with 18 seconds remaining, Doncic was the only Maverick to score from the six-minute mark forward.
The offense sputtered late
Like I alluded to above, the Mavericks stumbled down the stretch. With 6:59 left in the game, Doncic nailed a jumper to put the Mavericks up 108-96. From that point on until Brunson hit the dagger, the Spurs outscored the Mavericks 16-5. Dallas elected to leave Kristaps Porzingis in the corner and screen Doncic’s man with Wes Iwundu to get LaMarcus Aldrige matched up on Doncic. That seems like a poor way to use Porzingis.
It’s a shame because the offense seemed to fire on all cylinders up until the back half of the last quarter. They scored 50 points in the paint, shot 48 percent from the field and 36 percent from three. Unlike many times last season though, the Mavericks found a way to come out with a win.
Even though the Mavericks were once again missing a chunk of rotation players, the Mavericks were able to take a division game largely because of Doncic, Porzingis, and Tim Hardaway Jr. all contributing heavily to the box score. In addition to Doncic’s 36 points, both Porzingis and Hardaway pumped in 21 points apiece. Both players were efficient, and when all three are scoring, the Mavericks can overcome a lot.