The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Orlando Magic 108-92 Saturday night in Dallas at the American Airlines Center. The Magic are now 8-35 and quite frankly are not very good. But the Mavericks have had a maddening tendency to either lose to bad teams or make the games entirely too close over the last couple of seasons. The Mavericks had a comfortable lead for the majority of the game before leading for 20 for the majority of the fourth quarter.
The game was strangely chippy for a contest featuring two teams with no history of bad blood and one team which is not competitive. Luka Doncic was involved in a couple of arguments. The Mavericks did a good job defensively as they continue to be a good defensive team despite Luka, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kristaps Porzingis all being back together.
Here are some thoughts.
The Mavericks have a big three
Jalen Brunson has become a very good NBA player. The Mavericks starters scored 66 points. Luka, Porzingis and Brunson scored a total of 61 one of them. Perhaps the most important aspect of Brunson’s game is that Luka respects him enough to give up the ball.
Brunson is incredibly crafty and showed that again tonight shooting 8-of-11 from the floor and making his only three. Brunson is also a better athlete than he gets credit for. Teams have not been able to take advantage of him defensively.
Dwight Powell is a fantastic professional
Many Mavericks fans have wished for Powell to come off the bench or be traded for years. At times I have been one of them. But no matter what you feel about Powell you should enjoy his professionalism. Powell has been an underrated part of the Mavericks improved defense and he would have every right to complain about being benched despite the team’s recent success.
Even if he didn’t complain, some pouting would have been understandable. Being demoted in the midst of incredible personal and team success would be difficult for anyone to stomach. But Powell just continued to play incredibly hard and be in the right place for the thirteen minutes he played off the bench. Maxi Kleber is a better player and a better fit with Porzingis in the starting lineup, but it is nice to have someone so willing to play their role.
Porzingis picked up right where he left off
Porzingis is getting to the free throw line better than he ever has. He shot 12 free throws in only 28 minutes and on only eight field goal attempts. He has clearly realized what a valuable tool free throws can be for him given his fantastic shooting, not to mention he’s moving much quicker this season compared to last. He hunted free throws at the expense of making the shot a couple of times, but overall this was a good first game back.
The Mavericks did everything they needed to do in order to limit the minutes for their starters while maintaining control though out. No one will tell their children about this game, but it was still a very nice win.
Mo Bamba is terrible
Bamba is a former lottery pick with incredible physical traits. He has been mentioned as being available for trade. There has been some interest in him from Dallas fans due to his time at the University of Texas and when the Mavericks were faced with the possibility of drafting him in 2018, when it was thought Doncic was a pipe-dream. That interest should not exist. Despite his physical gifts, he simply cannot play good NBA basketball right now.
Here’s our latest episode of Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you’re unable to see the embed below, click here to be taken to the podcast directly. Or go to your favorite podcast app and search Mavs Moneyball Podcast.