The Dallas Mavericks held off the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night, 112-105. Luka Doncic scored a career high 51 points to go along with nine boards and six rebounds. Marcus Morris led the Clippers with 21 points.
In their first official game without Kristaps Porzingis, Luka Doncic opened the contest putting on a three point shooting display for the ages, hitting 7 of 10 three point range, scoring 28 points in the frame. Of course, Doncic then couldn’t hit his free throws, going 1 of 4 from the line and the Mavericks took a 36-28 lead after 12 minutes.
The fireworks of the first quarter slowly some in the opening minutes of the second, with the Clippers coming back with four points. Dallas slowly re-established dominance in the middle minutes of the frame, leading by 14 at the four minute mark. Los Angeles again chipped away at the lead, cutting it down to seven before Dorian Finney-Smith hit a lay up from Maxi Kleber and Dallas took a 59-50 lead into the half.
Dallas looked up put away the Clippers, dominating most of the half and growing the lead to as many as 17. But things came apart late in the frame, with ugly turnovers paired with some unfortunate misses and Los Angeles cut the lead down to single digits repeatedly. Some timely offensive rebounding from Maxi Kleber helped keep Dallas ahead, but the Clippers cut into the Dallas lead significantly. The Mavericks opened the fourth quarter up 89-81.
Los Angeles just kept coming, stifling the Dallas offense and cutting the lead to three points after a terrible flagrant foul call on a Maxi Kleber block attempt. The Mavericks answered with a quick 7-0 run to put the Clippers back on their heels some. From there it became a game of attrition, with Doncic keeping the Mavericks ahead as the Clippers threw the kitchen sink at Dallas. But the Mavericks were able to hold off Los Angeles, winning 112-105.
Now, some thoughts.
Doncic with a career high in scoring with 51!
While the bulk of his scoring came in that wild shooting first quarter, Doncic kept the gas on, scoring from everywhere. He was 10 of 12 on two point shots along with 10 of 14 from the line to go along with 7 of 14 from distance. I’m sure we’ll cover this more throughout the night and tomorrow! (Editor’s note: yes we did, right here and elsewhere)
Dallas needs more answers to Luka Doncic getting trapped
We already know that Doncic spends more time double teamed than any player in the league. But with Doncic turning it over more than a few times tonight out of traps, it’s clear that time might only go up. Dallas needs to find some solutions to these traps though, as the ones that happen closer to half court can lead to easy points for opposing teams if Luka makes even the slightest mistake. If that means more Jalen Brunson bringing the ball up in later game situations, then so be it.
Jalen Brunson must improve against teams with length
The Clippers played Brunson off the floor in the playoffs last year. This year, Brunson’s been spectacular but the games he’s struggled have been against teams with long defenders. When the Mavericks make the playoffs this season, Dallas is likely to see teams with this make up if they advance (the Suns for example).
Brunson’s been the second best Maverick this season (arguably the best in the 2021 portion of the season), so he needs to find a way to be more effective. A 3 of 12 shooting night isn’t good enough (thought he did dish out six assists).
Maxi Kleber, rebounding super hero
One of the funnier internet conspiracy theories over the last few years was Maxi Kleber was paid NOT to rebound so Luka could get triple doubles. It came as a result of a type (less than sign instead of a greater than sign) in a Bobby Marks article about a bonus Maxi would get if he hit a per game margin.
Tonight against the Clippers, his rebounding may have been the key to holding off the Clippers. His five offensive rebounds were huge in terms of second possessions for Dallas, along for four defensive boards against an intense Clippers team.
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.