The Dallas Mavericks extended their win streak to seven games after a rousing 111-106 win against the Houston Rockets Monday night in Houston. This is the longest Mavericks winning streak since the 2010-2011 season.
Luka Doncic led the way once again with 39 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists. Christian Wood and Tim Hardaway Jr. were massive in support, with each chipping in 21 points and Wood also adding five blocked shots and four assists. Spencer Dinwiddie didn’t have a great game, but he nailed a clutch three in the fourth quarter and then a dagger pull up jumper with 10 seconds remaining to increase the Mavericks lead to three.
This wasn’t an easy game and the Mavericks trailed by as many as 18 at one point early in the third quarter. The Mavericks battled back once again, led by a stellar second half from Doncic and Wood.
Dallas ends this soft part of their schedule on a high-note and now prepare for two big time matchups against the Celtics and Pelicans. It’ll be fun to see how much of what the Mavericks have done during this win streak will translate against the best of the league.
Here are some thoughts:
This was a game the Mavericks could and maybe should have lost, but they didn’t
First game after the New Year holiday. Last game on a road trip. Playing the same team for the third time in a short period. Last game in this cupcake part of the schedule. Looking ahead to games against Boston and New Orleans. The point is, the Mavericks had a dozen of excuses lined up for this one and still made a comeback and won the game. That’s impressive.
While ending a winning streak against a bad team would be a heartbreaker, would anyone truly be that critical if the Mavericks just ran out of juice in this one? The team has missed three major rotation pieces for most of the month and relying on the last players on the end of the bench to get spot minutes just so Luka, Hardaway, Wood, Reggie Bullock, and Dinwiddie don’t play 48 minutes a night.
Instead the Mavericks battled back. If this was against the Nuggets, the Celtics, or the Clippers, sure, maybe the comeback doesn’t happen. But the Mavericks can only play the schedule.
Good on them for not folding when they had every right to.
Luka Doncic is killing bad teams
Doncic had an exceptionally slow start and he didn’t even make his first three pointer until the fourth quarter. Yet he still had a herculean second half — 29 points, seven rebounds, six assists — to claw this game back into the win column.
For the past three seasons now, a major knock for Luka and this Mavericks team has been effort and focus against the worst teams in the league. Dallas, and Luka himself, have performed well below expectations against sub-.500 teams for a few seasons now and even this one didn’t get off to a great start with early losses to Oklahoma City, Detroit, Houston, and Orlando.
Thankfully, this might be a turning point for Luka’s career. While six of the seven wins in this streak were against non-playoff teams, Doncic has been nails in all of them. Would it be nice if Luka didn’t have to score 50 to beat the Rockets and Spurs? Sure. But also remember games in the past where Luka wouldn’t show up against a team like Orlando and the Mavericks suffer a disappointing loss? I’ll take this any day. Luka maturing mentally is just as important for him maturing physically. He’s still 23. It’s good to see some progress made here. You want to win an MVP? Be the face of the league? Big nights against the best help, but taking care of business is a must. Good for Luka and the Mavericks.
Christian Wood continues to help
Wood as a starter is working out nicely for the Mavericks and he had another positive performance in the win.
What’s been huge has been Wood making contributions in ways outside of scoring. He only made one bucket in the fourth quarter tonight (a huge one though, a four-point play after being fouled on a made three), but had a massive three blocks. These are the types of plays that can elevate both Wood and this Mavericks team’s ceiling. More defensive plays are required with Maxi Kleber out and Wood’s effort has seen a noticeable uptick on that side of the floor in the last week or so.
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