Facing a Nets squad with no Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant, the Mavericks relied on a team effort to come up with a 115-98 win on the road.
To start the game, it was all offense. Something that was to be expected considering both the Mavs and Nets are strong offensive teams and are in the bottom third of the league in defensive rating. The Mavs held a 68-64 lead heading into the half.
The second half is where things got interesting. Throughout most of the third quarter, it felt like the Mavs were starting to pull away as the lead stretched to double digits. But the start of the fourth quarter is when the game was won. The Mavs went on a big run, got the lead up to 22, and never looked back.
Here are three things from the nice win that pushed Dallas back up to .500.
A great Luka Doncic game not represented in the box score
Luka finished the night with a pedestrian (for him) 27 points on 11-of-21 shooting from the field to go along with seven assists and six rebounds. For most NBA players, that’s a career night. But for Luka, those numbers are pretty boring.
This was one of those Luka games, though, that doesn’t entirely show up in the box score. He had his fingerprints all over this game from start to finish.
His first quarter was a masterpiece. He had 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and added four assists and three rebounds. He was dropping dimes, competing on defense and scoring from all over the court. He set the tone on offense, and the team met his intensity.
As the game wore on, he slowed down a bit in terms of numerical production, but he was still all over the place. He even got his hands in the passing lanes, wreaking havoc all over Brooklyn.
If you just check the box score, it looks like a fine game for Luka, but it was actually a classic superstar performance.
Dorian Finney-Smith, take a bow!
Dorian Finney-Smith has rightfully taken a lot of grief this season. He hasn’t been the guy the Mavs need him to be. But tonight, he was everything they could’ve hoped for and more.
Finney-Smith scored 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field and 2-of-3 shooting from deep to go along with eight rebounds, four assists, two steals, one block and zero turnovers. It was an extraordinarily clean game from Finney-Smith, except, of course, when he was dirtying up the game on purpose.
He was a hound on defense. He stayed active, used his length well, and fought hard for the entire night. Check out this play:
He gets stuck on the screen, but instead of giving up, he chases down a driving Harden and viciously swats his shot, leading to a fastbreak layup for Tim Hardaway Jr.
Generic plus/minus never tells the whole story, but it’s not a coincidence that Finney-Smith led the team in that category tonight at an absurd plus-24. More of that, please.
It was a wild Kristaps game — so a normal Kristaps game.
Tonight was the Kristaps Porzingis experience in a nutshell.
He made the first bucket of the night, looked like he was going to have a great game, and then faded quickly. At one point, he got frustrated he didn’t get the ball on a previous possession, so he pulled up from near halfcourt with about 21 seconds left on the shot clock. After that, he kicked a chair during a timeout.
Then, seemingly all of a sudden, Porzingis started looking good again. The Mavs were (for some reason) posting him up over and over and over again. But it was... kind of working? He still made some weird decisions with the ball in his hands, but the shotmaking ability was on display.
The biggest takeaway from this Porzingis game was that he seemed to move better on defense. He was more active than he has been in recently, and that even led to him racking up a few blocks. That’s nice to see.
I suppose the other big takeaway in terms of Porzingis is that the big Mavs run in the fourth quarter happened with Porzingis on the bench. Coincidence? I don’t think so, but maybe that’s for a different story.