The Dallas Mavericks regained their footing at home Wednesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans winning 125-107, a night after a truly poor effort against the Memphis Grizzlies. Their final back-to-back of the regular season they did something they haven’t done much of this season: winning on the back end, and doing so comfortably enough to play all 15 players suited up.
22 & 19: The number minutes and points Kristaps Porzingis had in his return
Kristaps Porzingis made an early exit from their game against the Detroit Pistons due to knee soreness. That after sitting the previous three games prior to that with a sprained ankle — needless to say, it’s been a while.
Rick Carlisle said before the game that Porzingis would be on a minutes restriction, though he did not detail what that number would be. Luckily for the Mavericks, they took care of business early and didn’t have to push any limits. For his part Porzingis began the game assertive, scoring the game’s first points on a midrange and-one jumper. Even with some rust to knock off he was fairly effective early, scoring 12 of the team’s first 20 points. He finished with 19 points and five rebounds, while going 7-of-14 from the field in 22 minutes.
Where the Mavericks go from here in getting Porzingis ready for the playoffs remains to be seen, but it was nice to see progress being made.
45 & 77: Points scored in second quarter and first half
When it rains it pours I guess, and this time around the Mavericks were on the good end because they were in rhythm very quickly tonight. Their 45 points in the second quarter was the highest scoring quarter of the season. Some of that was thanks to Luka Doncic hitting five threes in the second frame.
In honor of Luka, the Mavericks scored 77 points in the first half, somehow the second time they’ve done that this season — remember when they couldn’t miss against those scoundrels the Los Angeles Clippers back in December?
1: The magic number...and Richardson’s first appearance from the bench
The magic number for the Mavericks, that is the number of games it takes to avoid they play-in tournament, is down to just one. Yes, we’re almost to the end of the season so it’s not like the Mavericks are doing things ahead of schedule. But it is important all the same.
This was also the first time Josh Richardson was not a starter. With Porzingis’ return to the lineup, someone had to move to the bench. Carlisle opted to use Dwight Powell alongside Porzingis, and to ride the hot hand of Tim Hardaway Jr. For the first time this season, after 56 starts in 56 appearances, Richardson came off the bench, and played just 14 minutes (though this game was a blowout).
In their game against Miami last week, Carlisle made a move at the start of the second half, employing the energy of rookie Josh Green after an effective second quarter. But here is a bit different — though there is clearly no fault in relying on Hardaway’s offensive impact. However it’s worth noting that Richardson was just in the midst of his best basketball all season, averaging 13 points, two steals and shooting 37-percent from three in the month of May. Hopefully Richardson can find ways to be impactful even if it means coming off the bench in the playoffs.
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.