The Dallas Mavericks improve to 9-6 on the year after defeating the Denver Nuggets at home Friday night, 127-99. Luka Doncic notched his 50th career triple double, with 33 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. The Denver Nuggets, playing without Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Aaron Gordan, were lead by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who scored 18 points.
The Mavericks and Nuggets got off to a slightly sloppy shooting start, with neither team able to connect on decent looks. The two teams exchanged baskets for much of the quarter, until a late scoring burst from Christian Wood gave Dallas what looked like a five point lead, but Vlatko Cancar hit a buzzer beating three. The Mavericks led after twelve minutes, 29-27.
The pace picked up in the second quarter with the bench unit for Dallas. Wood attacked the paint both as a scorer and passer and Josh Green and Spencer Dinwiddie made great open court plays following Denver misses. Despite repeated Denver charges, the Mavericks worked the lead up to seven points by the time Doncic returned and the Mavericks quickly pushed the lead up to double digits. Doncic did mean things to the terrible Nuggets defense (anchored by former Mavericks saloon door DeAndre Jordan) for the remainder of the quarter. A late Reggie Bullock gave the Mavericks a whopping 73-55 lead heading into halftime.
As is the Maverick way this season, the Nuggets started to chip into the Dallas lead early. But what do you know, coach Jason Kidd actually used a timeout to stop the Denver run. The Mavericks settled down after that and proceeded to dominate the Nuggets, building the lead to as high as 33 points. Doncic was a surgeon, slicing and dicing, both with his scoring and passing. The Mavericks entered the fourth up 105-83.
With Doncic starting the fourth, the Mavericks kept the pressure on. With Doncic notching yet another triple double, Dallas grew the lead and would not let the Nuggets come up for air even once. With the lead growing to as much as 31, Dallas poured it on throughout the frame.
Blowing a team out might be what this team needed
The Mavericks lead the league in “clutch” games, which is defined as a game that is within five points at any point in the final five minutes of a game, playing 12 so far this year. While they’re 7-5 in those games, the strength of a team over the course of a season can often be seen in the point differential. Dallas has had some big leads disappear, so watching them crush a team is great to see, regardless of the circumstance. Had a few things gone differently in these opening games, the Mavericks might be towards the top of the conference and the consternation over the Dallas losses might not be so intense.
Perhaps a pummeling win like this one might set the Mavericks on a course towards working their way up the standings.
The tactical use of a timeout
The drumbeat asking the question of “what does Jason Kidd do” has grown louder as the Mavericks have collapsed during third quarters repeatedly this season. Understanding that, it must be acknowledged that the use of a timeout at 8:32 in the third was ideal and the sort of thing that’s been called for throughout the season.
What Kidd has tried to do during these runs is letting the Mavericks figure it out on their own. It hasn’t happened yet. It might at some point when the team is more connected both on offense and defense, that happens with repetition. While the team is learning (or relearning) how to do all this, it might be best if he continue to do more in-game coaching.
JaVale McGee, making the most of minutes
We’re hard on McGee around these parts, in large part because he’s not been very effective. But credit must be paid to the veteran, particularly one who lost his promised starting spot so soon into the season, when he comes into a game and proceeds to make the most of his minutes. His second quarter run embarrassed DeAndre Jordan, which brings joy to my heart. If he does the right things and plays hard, there’s still minutes for him. He’s too big and athletic to ignore.
Luka Doncic is absurd
Watching Luka Doncic come off the bench in the second quarter and proceed to score 11 points in just four minutes is the kind of thing I hope to never get tired of or take for granted. He’s so fun to watch when he has things going and between his scoring and divine passing, he put on a show for anyone able to watch the game. His newest triple double is certainly one to remember.
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