The Dallas Mavericks (21-18) had no interest in having a letdown in Houston against a bad Rockets team on Friday after winning an emotional 41Forever night on Wednesday. Even without their best two players, the Mavs stepped on the Rockets early and never let up, leaving Houston with a 130-106 win that was never in doubt.
Dallas put out a fantastic effort against a team that is clearly on a lower tier. This Houston team repeatedly gave up open threes, open layups, and threw errant passes deep into the stands on several occasions. They have the passing range AND vision of a t-shirt cannon. At one point in the second quarter the camera caught Stephen Silas looking at his team the way my dad looked at me when I told him was going to major in theater.
80: The number of Dallas’ first half points.
Dallas came out with force and put the thought of this being a trap game to bed quickly. The Mavs shot 54% from three for the half and 60% from the floor on their way to a season-high 80 point half. Houston’s defense is very, very bad, but it still takes a cohesive offense moving with purpose and hitting shots to score 80 points in a half. I mean… 80! The starters scored 40 and the bench scored 40.
5: The number of Reggie Bullock 3 pointers
Ladies and gentlemen, we have Sniper Alert. Reggie Bullock came out firing in this game going 4-for-6 from distance in the first quarter and helped set the tone against a weak Houston defense. The ball moved well and found Reggie often and he didn’t hesitate. It would be huge for Dallas to see this Reggie Bullock on a nightly basis.
Also, shoutout to Tim Hardaway Jr.’s 19 points on 5-of-10 from three, Josh Green’s 17 points (!!), and Jalen Brunson and Dwight Powell with 15 each.
34-17: The Mavericks’ advantage in assists
Other than Dallas’ new defensive aptitude, I’m convinced that there’s nothing more important for this team than sharing the ball. As other worldly as Luka Doncic is with the ball in his hands we’ve seen that this roster has the ability to manufacture offense for stretches as a team. They can pass and Jalen Brunson can ball. It’s not always going to be there but when it is, use it.
The next step in this team’s evolution will be to create the same player and ball movement when when Luka is fully involved. If this team can go periods where they defend and score without Luka having to wear himself to the bone, good things are in store.
Since I’m thinking more about Dirk these days, let’s go there… That 2010-2011 championship team that justified my love had, if I can mix my sports metaphors, a couple of reliable offensive fastballs that made them incredible all season long in the clutch. The first was a beautiful two-man game with Dirk and Jet. The other, of course, was Dirk on the block being THE MAN. But they didn’t run that all game long every game. They saved it for when they needed it. Nothing else is working? Give one of them a go. Close game in the last 5 minutes? Here comes our fastball. Hit that.
When this team is able to lean on their defense and team offense for long stretches, and then seal the deal with their transcendent superstar, they’ll be a true contender. 2011 rant done. Let’s go.
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.