The Dallas Mavericks improved their winning streak to six, holding off the San Antonio Spurs on the road Saturday night, 126-125. Luka Doncic once again led Dallas, scoring 51 points, grabbing six rebounds, dishing nine assists, and stealing the ball four times. Keldon Johnson punished Dallas to lead the Spurs with 30 points in defeat.
The Spurs jumped out to a 16-9 lead on the Mavericks, as Dallas failed to attack a notoriously weak Spurs defense early. But following the first television timeout of the game, Luka Doncic managed to tie the game at 16 all in under a minute. San Antonio kept scoring with relative ease in the quarter but unfortunately for them, so did Doncic, who poured in 22. Dallas led 32-30 after one quarter.
The Dallas defense continued to be stinky and when paired with an incandescent Spurs offense, it meant that the Mavericks had trouble containing San Antonio throughout the quarter. Keldon Johnson cooked with gas, pacing the Spurs and at one point scoring 10 straight points. Luka Doncic returned at his usual point and resumed his scoring, which helped Dallas take a 68-64 lead at the half.
It must’ve occurred to Dallas during their halftime talks that they were the superior team to San Antonio. They opened with 12 straight makes resulting in a 17 point lead around the five minute mark. To the credit of San Antonio, they wouldn’t go quietly, scoring six straight to keep within range. The two squads exchanged baskets the rest of the quarter and Dallas took a 103-93 lead into the final frame.
Of course, the Spurs just wouldn’t go away. With Doncic on the bench, San Antonio kept coming, chipping into the lead little by little. Even with Luka coming back into the game at the eight minute mark, the Spurs worked the lead all the way down to four before a timeout. Dallas failed to secure a rebound until the five minute mark in the quarter, which really helped the San Antonio cause. Doncic continued to rescue Dallas with scoring, twice extending the lead to three when the Spurs culled it to one around the four minute mark.
The game remained tight until the very end, with some wild swings including a missed Hardaway dunk, a huge Frank Ntilikina shot, missed free throws, a Hardaway turnover during a full court press, Luka clutch free throws, and a disaster during a take foul situation where Tre Jones hit one free throw, got his own rebound, got fouled again, but missed the game tying free throw, and Luka Doncic missing the final two free throws of the game but Dallas winning anyway. The Mavericks escape the Spurs 126-125 to extend their winning streak to six.
Most 40 point games in Dallas history for Luka Doncic
Prior to tonight’s win, Luka Doncic was averaging 40.4 points per game during the five game win streak. When he eclipsed 40 points in the third quarter, Doncic passed Mark Aguirre for most 40 point games in Dallas history with 23. I understand scoring is up this year relative to history, but this kind of scoring binge Doncic is on right now is preposterous. It’s true that the Mavericks need this from him with key players out, but that it’s happening all the same, this kind of run has to match some of the greatest scoring binges in recent history. He’s now averaging 42 points per game during this six game win streak.
Keeping the turnovers low
With the active players Dallas has, defense is more of an idea than something they’re able to execute, even against the Spurs. Which it would be great if anyone could actually get a rebound for the Mavericks, one thing Dallas has controlled over this winning streak is turnovers. Dallas turns the ball over at just 12.6 times per game, good for second lowest in the league. Over this six game win streak, Dallas is averaging just 10 turnovers a game, including just five against the Spurs. Doncic had no turnovers!
If a team’s not able to defend or rebound, at least they aren’t giving the ball away for free.
Christian Wood will make the case as an All-Star reserve
IF the Mavericks are able to stay in the top six of the Western Conference there will be a really good argument for Wood making the All-Star team as a reserve. He contributed 25 points and seven rebounds versus the Spurs and while his two block game streak ended at eight, he’s been the clear second best player on Dallas, passing Spencer Dinwiddie during this stretch. With Dallas sitting in the fourth seed as of this writing, that’s something everyone should be crowing about loudly.
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