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3 things from the Mavericks gritty win in Madison Square Garden

The Mavs took on the Knicks in a messy, grind-it-out type of game. Here are 3 things from the win.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at New York Knicks Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

There was nothing pretty about tonight’s game, but the Mavericks got it done, and I guess that’s really all that matters. Final score: Mavs 99, Knicks 86.

Even though the Mavs won by double-digits, there was a decent portion of the first half that looked like the Mavs were going to get run out of the gym. At one point in the second quarter, the Knicks held a 13 point lead, and it definitely could’ve gotten worse.

Thankfully, the Knicks started missing some open looks, and the Mavs started making some tough shots. A special shoutout goes to Josh Richardson’s left-handed drives and finishes to help the Mavs close the gap before halftime. (That’s a sentence I never thought I would write.)

In the second half, the Mavs steadily maintained control and then turned it up a level in the fourth leading to the double-digit victory.

Here are three things from the win in MSG.

Luka Doncic looks like an old man, but at least he’s having fun!

Luka Doncic has always looked like he’s not very mobile or agile. He seems to always jog with a limp. When he runs back on defense, he simply looks like an old man playing in Church league. It’s not pretty, but it’s Luka. Whatever.

Tonight, Luka looked even older. It looked like he tweaked his ankle (or some part of his lower leg) in the first quarter, which appeared to contribute to the game-long limp. And then late in the game, he crashed into the stanchion and got up looking like me after playing tug-of-war with my dog for 3 minutes. It didn’t look graceful.

Maybe it was the lower leg he injured in the first quarter, maybe it’s some lingering back pain, or maybe it was just a random, more extreme version of how Luka always looks. But hey, at least he’s having fun! That’s all that matters.

It’s also worth noting that he did a full chin-up on the rim late in the fourth quarter after a dunk. The fun is being had. The athleticism is being displayed. It just looks like it’s coming from an old man.

The Kristaps Porzingis experience is... different.

I’ve been a harsh KP critic. For the majority of this season, I’ve thought he looked like a petulant child unwilling and unable to play defense. To his credit, he’s been much, much better as of late, and tonight, he was really solid on the defensive end of the court once again.

KP played solid help D, he blocked a couple shots, and he even moved his feet better than I’m used to seeing. If he can keep having a positive impact on defense, he’ll start to become the worthy sidekick that Luka needs.

If only KP wasn’t 6-for-17 shooting from the field tonight. Sigh. Maybe he’ll put it all together come playoff time.

Jalen Brunson = a good basketball player

By and large, Jalen Brunson has had a really nice 2020-21 campaign. Not including guys named Luka Doncic, he’s been the most valuable player on the Mavs this season. Tonight was more of the same.

Brunson finished with a solid 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field to go along with seven rebounds, five assists and only one turnover. He also had a ridiculous +34 plus/minus. Regardless of how you feel about plus/minus as a stat, +34 means something.

It was a really steady game for Brunson, but he even managed to throw in a couple SportsCenter-worthy highlights. Check out this one:

That’s a tough finish with his off-hand. Thanks for being fun, Jalen.

Here’s the postgame podcast, Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you can’t see the embed below “More from Mavs Moneyball”, click here. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe by searching “Mavs Moneyball podcast” into your favorite podcast app.