After two days off, the Dallas Mavericks seemed as if they were still on a break during the opening minutes of the first quarter. Minnesota, led by Karl Anthony-Towns, jumped out to a 16-3 lead with Dallas lollygagging through sloppy possessions. Porzingis found his offense after two rough games in Portland and scored 12 in the period in a variety of ways, including a jumper, steal leading to a transition dunk, and free throws. With Luka Doncic unable to score and committing three early turnovers, the only real way Dallas stayed in the first quarter was at the free throw line where they shot 10 and made nine. The Mavericks seemed lucky to end the quarter down just 33-30.
Things in the second kept their ugly pace for Dallas, capped early with a weird technical on Tim Hardaway Jr. after he’d left the game. The Mavericks hung close, but continued poor play and shooting from Doncic resulted in the Wolves holding on to the lead. Minnesota however kept fouling a ton and Dallas got in the bonus with over five minutes in the quarter for the second time in the game. A Porzingis three and a Hardaway three gave the Mavericks their first lead of the game around the 3:30 mark. Doncic finally got on the board with a jumper. After a late Luka drive resulted in a Porzingis tip in, Dallas managed to take a 56-55 lead into the half.
The three ball started to fall for Dallas in the third, with Minnesota stumbling and continuing to foul way too much. Porzingis started to hit shots, and the Mavs dominated the frame, outscoring the Wolves 32-18. They took a commanding 88-73 lead into the fourth.
Dallas kept the heat in the fourth and generally blew the Wolves off the floor. Doncic shook his game-long funk to connect on a couple of threes. Dwight Powell had some post move finishes. Doncic got a technical for being very rude to a referee. Jalen Brunson secured a double double as result of rebounding. It was a weird game is what I’m saying. Even the rookies got in finally and Tyler Bey made a play! The Mavericks walk away with a rather easy victory, 128-108.
Now, some things:
Kristaps Porzingis had a big game when Dallas needed it
If you watched this game, Luka Doncic looked like a guy who needed a nap and didn’t get one (and apparently that’s very much what happened if you follow him on social media). When Dallas went down 16-3 it felt like the kind of game where we’re all yelling at the television.
Then something nice happened: Kristaps Porzingis went to work and kept the Mavericks afloat—a free-throw line post up, some free throws, a cool lay up under the rim—all to keep Dallas in striking distance. He finished with 29 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished four assists. His offense ended up being a nice bonus for a Dallas offense which caught fire.
His defense deserves real praise. Though he doesn’t seem to challenge three point shots ever, his paint defense bordered on menacing, blocking and altering shots seemingly at will. Porzingis seemed to care that the often reckless Wolves continued to challenge him at the rim. It did not work.
Points in the paint certainly help things
It’s going to take some time for me to grasp how in the world Dwight Powell scored 16 points, but he was just one of many Dallas Mavericks who scored in the paint seemingly at will (the one guy who did not was Luka Doncic, weirdly enough).
The Mavericks feasted in the paint, scoring 58 in the key and outscoring the Wolves in this area by 14. One could or maybe should argue that these paint forays lead to their open threes later in the contest.
Jalen Brunson’s nice bounce back game
The Clippers and Blazers series were not particularly kind to Brunson. His early stint versus the Wolves looked to be more of the same with some questionable passes and shot making decisions. But he kept pushing and in a game where he got extended run (30 minutes), Brunson scored 16 points and dished five helpers while also grabbing a team high 11 rebounds. A weird stat to be sure but in a season where it seems like Dallas can’t rebound, they’ll take everyone from whoever will grab them.
See y’all Friday.