Luka’s first home playoff game of the year couldn’t have gone any better. Dallas didn’t spend any time licking their wounds after a razor-thin loss in Game 4. They came out, took control early, and cruised to a wire-to-wire victory.
They’ll have a chance to close out the series in Utah, but first, here are some stats from Dallas’ 102-77 blowout victory in Game 5.
36: First half points for Utah
Utah managed only 36 points in the first half. That’s their lowest first-half total of the entire season. It was, if nothing else, a balanced effort as they scored 18 in both the first and second quarters.
It was another smothering defensive effort from Dallas — a hallmark for the Mavericks in this series and a big reason they won two of the three games without Luka Doncic. Dallas has consistently held Utah below their second in the league 40.3 three-point attempts per game, and in tonight’s game, Utah shot a putrid 3-of-30 from deep. The defensive effort was important early as it gave Dallas time to clean up some early turnovers and messy possessions, but once Dallas settled in, it was smooth sailing.
13 to 11: Luka Doncic outrebounded Utah’s Rudy Gobert
How much Rudy Gobert should feature in the Jazz’s offense plans has been a question in this series, but one thing that was never in doubt was Gobert’s presence on the boards. He managed 10 offensive rebounds in Game 4 alone and was instrumental in handing Utah their 22-to-12 edge in second-chance points.
Dallas did a much better job corralling those missed shots in Game 5. Luka led the team on the boards while Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber — who stayed out of foul trouble all night — kept Gobert off the glass. In fact, Dallas not only won the rebound battle but also second-chance points. They put back 14 of their own while keeping Utah to only eight. It’s the same winning formula Dallas used to steal Game 3 in Utah where the Jazz managed just six second-chance points.
4: Bench points scored by Dallas through three quarters
With Luka returning and moving Spencer Dinwiddie back to the bench, you’d think Dallas would have some added firepower in the second unit. We’ve certainly seen how that plays out — Kleber, Bertans and Green have all had big nights in this series.
Tonight, though, it was about as pure a test of team talent as you could devise; our five best guys versus your five best guys. Dinwiddie, Trey Burke, and Marquese Chriss added a few more bench points late into the fourth and well into garbage time, but just as Game 3 was a statement game for the bench, this was a statement game for the starting five.
When teams go down big, things tend to get chippy. In the fourth quarter with the game well in hand, Luka took it upon himself to try and send Hassan Whiteside into early retirement with a cocked-back dunk attempt. When Whiteside met him at the rim, there was some contact for sure, but probably nothing that would’ve caused concern.
However, when Luka took offense to some tangled arms on the way down, a shoving match ensued between Whiteside and the two Mavericks who came to Luka’s aid, Reggie Bullock and Dorian Finney-Smith. Everyone was separated after sharing some words, and when the dust settled, Whiteside had earned himself two technical fouls and an ejection, and Bullock and Finney-Smith got once apiece. In the case of Bullock the tech paired with one (very weak) tech from earlier in the game and was thus ejected as well. It was perhaps a tactical ejection from Bullock who has been Dallas’ iron man this series, playing 40-plus minutes in every game. He left this one with a minuscule by comparison 31.
Hopefully, that is enough to freshen up his legs for the closeout game in Utah. The dustup might be nothing — a little shoving in the course of a series — but should be something to watch out for when these teams meet up next, as there is certainly no love lost between the squads at the best of times, and it appears their patience with each other is growing thin fast.
19: Points Luka scored in the 3rd quarter
Dallas scored 29 total points in the third, and 19 of those belonged to Luka Doncic. It was a crucial quarter for Dallas in which Doncic played the full 12 minutes and gave Dallas the separation it needed to ensure Utah wouldn’t be hanging around in the fourth.
Their 52-36 halftime lead was good, but we’ve seen both of these teams make runs. Any hope of that was quickly extinguished when Doncic came out and scored Dallas’ first eight points in the frame, and pushed Dallas’ lead to 20. Combined with holding Utah to just 19 points (hey, one better than they managed in the first and second), Luka’s big third-quarter performance gave Dallas the assurance it needed for a nice easy win — something that’s been hard to come by in this series.
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