The Dallas Mavericks defeated the San Antonio Spurs on the road Friday night, 123-109. Luka Doncic notched his first triple double of the season with 32 points, 12 rebounds, and 15 assists. Kristaps Porzingis poured in 32 for his season high. Devin Vassell was the high point man for the Spurs with 20 off the bench.
The Mavericks rolled out the same starting line up they have all season against all facts or reason and in the opening minutes, things looked the same as they have all season long in terms of a slow start. The Spurs connected on multiple threes and led the Dallas 16-11. After a shift to bench players, Luka Doncic briefly lost his mind with a dunk, a pair of threes, and a crisp look away pass to Dorian Finney Smith for a dunk to give the Mavericks a five point lead of their own. Reggie Bullock and Jalen Brunson led the bench unit for the remainder of the quarter and Dallas took a 31-22 lead into the next period.
The bench unit for Dallas held the fort to open the second frame, extending the lead to double digits. Keldon Johnson hit his third three of the game (he’d hit four all season) then blocked Luka Doncic on a post up and the Spurs gained some momentum and pulled within four points of the Mavericks by the seven minute mark. Despite some stellar offensive connections between Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis for dunks, the Spurs managed to hang around within five to seven points. Finally the Mavericks shook the Spurs some following a strong Porzingis rim challenge of Thad Young leading to a long three on the break from Porzingis to give Dallas an 11 point lead with about two minutes remaining in the half. The Spurs once again rallied, only for Luka Doncic to hit a three with 10 seconds left, then Porzingis hitting a half court shot at the buzzer to carry the Mavericks to a 68-57 lead at the half.
The wheels fell of for the Spurs in the third quarter. The Maverick offense kept a torrid pace but in the early part of the quarter it was the defense which kept Dallas in front. Kristaps Porzingis played perhaps his finest defensive stretch since the Orlando playoff bubble. Dallas eventually build up a 22 point lead by the three minute mark, with Doncic notching his first triple double of the season during the frame. San Antonio repeatedly tried to cut into the lead only for the Mavericks to answer immediately. Jalen Brunson stirred the Dallas drink to the tune of 8 straight points during one string of possessions. The Dallas bench extended the lead to 25 and the Mavericks found themselves up 102-77 entering the final quarter.
The final frame continued the theme with the Mavericks pummeling the Spurs for a good chunk of the quarter. Coach Jason Kidd kept Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis in the game, possibly continuing to build chemistry as Dallas doesn’t play again until Monday. A pair of live ball turnovers (after Dallas had committed just three in the first 44 minutes) forced a Maverick timeout with four minutes remaining and the lead down to 18 points. The Mavericks kept San Antonio at bay and walked away with a 123-109 win.
Now, some thoughts
Kristaps Porzingis, tall, skilled and difficult to match up with
If I have anything to say about it, someone here at Mavs Moneyball will expound on this point with better detail and eloquence than I can, but it’s worth noting the obvious that this was the best Kristaps Porzingis game of the 2021-22 season by a mile. As a person who has been quite critical of Porzingis, that was a simply delightful performance.
Until the fourth quarter, his shot diet consisted of attempts in the lane or just outside it or threes. While he still posted a bit more than makes sense, his off ball cutting and attacking were spectacular. He drew a few free throws and generally terrorized San Antonio offensively. It helped that Dallas stuck with Porzingis as the lone big for a significant stretch in the second quarter as well where the Mavericks scored 37. Give me more Doncic-Porzingis pick and roll too, while I’m asking for presents.
There’s only one long two! This is awesome.
Team defense, working well
Writing about the Dallas defense is rare in recent years. Yet considering the Spurs led the lead in points per game in the paint, the Maverick performance tonight is something we should focus on. Of course, the effort was led by Kristaps Porzingis, who looked as good defensively as he has since the 2019-20 season. His lateral mobility and recovery on shows paired with the other Maverick defenders doing their part was truly fun to watch. While the Spurs are rather limited in terms of talent, they still have good NBA scorers and the Mavericks kept a lid on them for long enough to give the offense a chance to build a huge lead.
Controlling the boards and the ball
In addition to the other things mentioned, the Maverivks beat the Spurs on the glass, outrebounding San Antonio 48-41. Dallas also protected the ball as well as they have all season, committing just 5 turnovers, their lowest all season. If a team wins those battles, along with shooting the ball well and playing strong defense, they’re going to be hard to beat.
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