The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night, winning 125-120. Luka Doncic played a spectacular game, leading Dallas with 49 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. Cam Thomas scored 30 in defeat for the Nets.
The opening frame was a back-and-forth affair, with the Mavericks taking an early lead only for the Nets to roar back. Doncic hit three 3s in a quick spurt and seemed primed for a big game. The Nets were unfazed and answered right back, pushing past the Mavericks on a Spencer Dinwiddie driving dunk. The rate of scoring slowed down in the second half of the quarter as the shooting from both teams cooled off. A driving layup from Kyrie Irving followed by a thunderous fast break dunk from Dante Exum gave Dallas a 26-25 lead after twelve minutes.
Dereck Lively II continued his strong season start, scoring on back-to-back possessions in the early part of the quarter. A series of ugly possessions for both teams followed, but the Mavericks took a three-point lead around the 6:30 mark, forcing a Brooklyn timeout. Dallas had the chance to extend the lead further, but sloppy turnovers gave way to easy Nets points and yet another lead change. Dinwiddie connected on three straight threes to force a Mavericks timeout. Doncic put away a deep three at the end of the half and Dallas trailed, 59-57.
The Nets threatened to break the game open in the third, with Dallas unable to find a defensive answer for the hot shooting of Dinwiddie. The Mavericks got down by as many as seven with Dallas players unable to connect on great looks throughout the frame. Doncic turned into a one-man offense though, which took some heat off the porous Maverick defense. Tim Hardaway Jr.’s free throws after getting fouled while shooting a three pointer at the buzzer kept Dallas close, with the Mavericks trailing 89-88 heading into the last frame.
Dallas opted to go with a rough lineup to start the fourth and the Mavericks were unable to retake the lead. After the Mavericks fell behind by seven, it felt like the game might be slipping out of reach. Kyrie Irving responded with six straight points and Powell had a tip in to bring the Mavericks back within one, resulting in a Brooklyn timeout. A strange evening of basketball continued with a Powell three giving the Mavericks their first lead since the first half. Brooklyn answered right back, then pushed the lead to four on a Dorian Finney-Smith three. The Mavericks couldn’t get a stop but Doncic put on his cape to help Dallas keep pace. His eighth made three gave Dallas a one-point lead with 85 seconds remaining. The Nets tied it at 120, but Doncic’s ninth three (a preposterous, fading, hooking bank shot), gave Dallas the lead again. After a Nets miss, Josh Green buried two free throws to seal the game, 125-120
Doncic now has 30 career games of 40-plus points. I don’t know what to say about Doncic that hasn’t already been said. He was amazing, he was the engine behind the Dallas win. What a player. What a game!
The defense is bad, but it hasn’t mattered yet
It’s a two-game sample size, but the defense isn’t particularly good. While finding the start of a defensive anchor in Dereck Lively is a start, there’s not a lot of connectivity in the Dallas defense. I’ll be the first to admit that there are elements of what the Mavericks are doing on defense, particularly when they’re switching and when they aren’t, and that’s causing some of the problems. Overhelping from guys like Josh Green also hurts. Then there’s the fact that through two games a couple of opposing players have lit them up. It’s a long season and defense is hard, but early returns raise more questions than answer them.
Kidd has to play Dereck Lively
This is related to the previous point, but the defense isn’t good when Lively’s off the floor. He did something during the third quarter that Kidd did not like, as he went to the bench at the 8:43 mark and sat until the 4.1 second mark. What are we doing here? Hopefully, we get an answer in the post-game.
If you’re worried about Kyrie Irving, don’t be
Through two games, Irving’s shooting just 16-of-41 from the floor and at times he’s looked a bit off. But do not mistake his not forcing it with passivity. Irving’s had a lot of shots he’s more than capable of making not go down. What’s been impressive is his work in the clutch and his lack of frustration with those shots not falling. He’ll be fine and a breakout game is coming. Dallas hasn’t needed superb Kyrie to win a game yet, so it’ll be all the more great when we do get a sublime performance.
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