The Dallas Mavericks improved to 3-0 Monday night, winning on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies, 125-110. Luka Doncic led Dallas once again, this time with 35 points, 12 rebounds, and 12 assists. Jaren Jackson Jr. had 30 in defeat for Memphis.
With Kyrie Irving sidelined with a foot injury, the Dallas Mavericks made their second change to the starting lineup this year by inserting Josh Green. Dallas hit five early threes as the Mavericks pushed the pace off makes and misses. Derrick Lively faced early foul trouble defending the rim, picking up two in the opening part of the quarter. After his exit, the Dallas defense fell apart and the Mavericks gave up drive and kick threes and offensive rebounds. Hot shooting kept Dallas in range, but the Mavericks found themselves down 36-30 after one.
After Memphis pushed the lead up to eight, Derrick Jones Jr. went on a one-man rampage, scoring 10 straight Dallas points, including a drive, a pair of threes, and free throws, which forced a Memphis timeout. With Doncic on the bench after playing the entire first quarter, Dallas managed to retake and extend the lead by the halfway point of the second quarter. The two teams traded shots for the remainder of the quarter, with Dallas holding on due to Doncic’s incredible shot-making. Dallas took a 67-61 lead into the half.
With Lively picking up his fifth foul in the opening minute of the third, it projected to be a difficult half for Dallas against the burly Memphis bigs. The fast-paced Mavericks pushed Memphis early but the Grizzlies hung around, cutting the lead to two repeatedly. Jones continued playing the role of unexpected sparkplug, hitting two more threes as Dallas held the lead. Marcus Smart cut the Dallas lead to one, only for Tim Hardaway Jr. and Maxi Kleber to connect on threes to give the Mavericks some breathing room. Following a four-point trip after a Jackson flagrant, the Mavericks carried a 97-86 lead into the final period.
The Mavericks started to pull away in the fourth with threes reigning early. Dallas took their foot off the gas though and a 17 point lead was cut to four in mere minutes. A Jason Kidd timeout got Josh Green a nice look at the rim and Luka hit another three to move the lead back out to nine. Memphis wouldn’t punch back and the Mavericks would hold on, eventually beating the Grizzlies 125-110
Luka Doncic is the early-season MVP
Y’all already saw the stat line at the top of the recap. He’s averaging 39 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 9.6 assists on 55% from the floor, including 49% from three. He has just 10 turnovers all season. Luka Doncic has been MVP good. Yeah, he’s shooting 70% from the line (19-of-27) but it’s pretty silly he’s shooting just nine free throws a game.
Look, we don’t want Doncic to be carrying this much weight early. That’s the point of a second superstar like Kyrie Irving. But Irving has an injury at the moment and didn’t look his best in preseason or the opening two games. Doncic can do this for a period of time and right now it’s worth asking if this is the best basketball he’s played over a sustained period. It’s hard to judge, Josh wrote about how ridiculous some of his clutch shots have been, but that we have to ask these questions is what makes watching him so much fun.
Reports of Tim Hardaway’s demise have been greatly exaggerated
There are two players which cause the Dallas Mavericks fanbase great consternation. One is Dwight Powell, the other is Tim Hardaway. Through two games, Hardaway played fantastically in the first quarter, only to play poorly the rest of both games. I mean look at this from the Nets game:
THJ made five of his first seven shots. then he did this to end the game. woof. pic.twitter.com/ehw5ZvPRXL— Josh Bowe (@Boweman55) October 28, 2023
Tim’s shot making helps Dallas and while I understand it’s awful when he’s off, when he’s on, he’s a key reason in the success of the Mavericks. Maybe he won’t be here all year, but I think he gives the offense something that someone like Jaden Hardy isn’t quite ready for. 21 points off the bench is great and Dallas needs that some nights.
Derrick Jones Jr. wants us all to settle down because he’s got this
I am not sure what to make of Jones in the starting lineup. Three straight games, three times in the first quarter the Mavericks don’t guard very well. The problem is assuming Jones is a starter for defensive purposes when he’s clearly in there to be an offensive spark plug. 22 points in a game when Dallas needed it is an outstanding boost. I think expecting him to contribute a ton statistically is a mistake, but he runs so hard and does so at the rim, he’s going to benefit from playing with Luka.
There are going to be nights like this for Lively
Foul trouble was a regular occurrence for Dereck Lively during his time at Duke, to the point that it was a negative brought up during pre-draft analysis. Dallas fans have been treated to multiple performances in NBA Summer League and pre-season where that did not end up being the case. However, against Memphis, he got into trouble early and stayed there. That’s going to happen some nights, though we’ve seen how quickly Lively has been able to adapt to the professional game.
The key for him is to not pick up cheap calls on screen-setting, when he’s beaten on drives when he’s already committed fouls, or when he’s under the rim. He’ll be fine, but it’s clear how much Dallas needs him already.
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