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Starting lineup change helps spark the Mavericks’ offense

Tim Hardaway Jr. returned to a bench role

Dallas Mavericks v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks’ offensive struggles aren’t new. Almost every game has seemed like an uphill battle to score points. Even with an 11-9 record after a 139-107 drubbing of the New Orleans Pelicans Wednesday, Dallas still has a minus-0.8 negative net rating.

A lot of the Mavericks issues trace back to the starting lineups that have played much of the season—when healthy. It simply wasn’t working. Head coach Jason Kidd has been tinkering with it of late, and he may have found one that works.

On Wednesday, Kidd inserted Reggie Bullock back into the starting five. Bullock previously made two starts, but this time he was replacing Tim Hardaway Jr., who Kidd moved to the bench. It was the eighth different starting lineup Kidd has used this season.

“Just looking at different lineups, starters—we tried Moses [Brown] the other night—we thought we could try Reggie,” Kidd said. “I talked to Timmy beforehand about the idea. He was on board. That just shows his leadership to be able to give a teammate the opportunity to start.”

The move paid off. Alongside Luka Doncic, Dorian Finney-Smith, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dwight Powell, Bullock helped the starting lineup achieve the highest net rating of the game—plus-14.

Playing a total of 11 minutes together, they also scored 31 points while shooting 66.7 percent overall and 55.6 percent from deep. They were a major factor in the team shooting 68.7 percent on the night, breaking the Mavericks’ all-time single-game field goal mark set in 1983.

Bullock finished the game with six points on 66.7 percent shooting (all three-point attempts), two rebounds, an assist, and a steal in 18 and a half minutes.

As for Hardaway, this isn’t the first time that he has moved to a bench role to help the team. He did so last season under Rick Carlisle as well. He came off the bench 39 times last season. Even though he sees himself as a starter, the move has helped the Mavericks both then and now.

“I took it with a grain of salt and moved forward,” Hardaway said of his conversation with Kidd about moving to the bench. “It’s nothing I haven’t handled in the past. We’re all professionals. We all want to win. I think he just wanted to switch something up, and we move forward.”

Kidd made a point to say that Hardaway had done nothing wrong to move to a reserve role. The adjustment, at least for the night, looked to help Hardaway, who’s shot hadn’t been falling for much of the season.

He scored 16 points on 66.7 percent shooting and 57.1 percent on three-pointers. Hardaway also chipped in two rebounds and an assist in just over 25 minutes of action—nearly seven more minutes than Bullock played.

The change to the starting lineup may be a temporary one. Kidd hasn’t indicated that it’s permanent, but did say that he’ll talk with the players about what is best for the team going forward. Wednesday, the move was effective and helped the team earn a much-needed win.

“It’s 82 games,” Doncic said. “You’ve got to try new things. Sometimes it will help, sometimes it won’t. But obviously today it helped, and we played great.”