The Dallas Mavericks throttled the New York Knicks Saturday afternoon in New York, 121-100. It was only the Mavericks third double-digit victory of the season and a big one, bringing the team back to .500.
Dallas struggled early, looking like the same somewhat lifeless team in the previous 21 games, falling behind by as many as 15 in the first half. Something changed at halftime though.
The Mavericks blew the Knicks off the floor in the third quarter, outscoring the Knicks 41-15. Luka Doncic and Tim Hardaway Jr. were flamethrowers, with Doncic finishing with a game-high 30 points and Hardaway finishing with 28 and eight made three pointers.
This was a massive win for Dallas, if nothing else to try and expunge the gross loss against the Pistons on Thursday. Dallas isn’t out of the woods, and this game doesn’t fix everything, but it’s a necessary step to get back to where the Mavericks think they can be. Here’s what we noticed.
The dam from three finally broke
The Mavericks exploded from three, making a season-high 24 threes on checks notes 61 attempts. Whoa!
It was an especially euphoric night for Tim Hardaway Jr., who has found his jumper again after returning to the starting lineup. Hardaway made eight three pointers, five in the third quarter where the Mavericks put the game away.
Doncic also joined in on the fun, with going 4-of-9. But eight different Mavericks made a three against the Knicks. Is this a sign of things to come? Is the Mavericks shooting curse broken? Who knows, but this was a delightful result. Reggie Bullock made three 3-pointers, which is a nice sign as well.
Defense showed up
Perhaps the most embarrassing aspect of the loss to the Pistons on Thursday was the Mavericks defensive effort. That was cleaned up Saturday against the Knicks.
The numbers don’t look incredible — New York shot 45.5 percent from the floor and 32.3 percent from three — but Dallas really had the energy level up, especially in the second half. Guys looked connected for seemingly the first time all season, and New York’s offense died in a third quarter where it only scored 15 points.
If the Mavericks can replicate this defensive effort, it would go even a longer way than the three point shooting.
Quiet game from Jalen Brunson
Former Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson wasn’t bad in his first matchup against his former team, but he didn’t really do all that much either — he finished with 13 point and three assists on 5-of-11 shooting.
By far the most bizarre part of the game was how often Brunson looked like a bystander within his own team’s offense. Brusnon only shot 11 times and had two free throw attempts. He’d pass the ball up at the start of a possession and never got it back. It was weird to see, especially when you’d think with the circumstances that Brunson would want to really hammer his former teammates.
The Knicks are a mess and the Mavericks punished them. Things are good in Mavericks land for once, let’s see how it carries forward.
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