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Mavericks vs Hornets Final Score: Dallas escapes Charlotte, 124-118

The Dallas Mavericks stay perfect at home with a win over the Hornets

Charlotte Hornets v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks improved to 5-1 on Sunday night after a come-from-behind win against the Charlotte Hornets, winning 124-118. Luka Doncic led a balanced Dallas effort with 23 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists. LaMelo Ball poured in 30 points to go along with 10 rebounds and 13 assists.

The Mavericks looked to right the wrongs of their recent first-quarter woes against Charlotte only to run into the same challenges defensively. Doncic left at 4:45 in the quarter and went to the locker room with Mark Followill noting something with his thigh (he later returned to the bench). The threes started to fall for Dallas in the latter part of the quarter as the Mavericks attempted to keep pace with the high-octane Charlotte crew. Once again Dallas trailed after the opening quarter, 31-26.

Charlotte punished the Mavericks in the paint to start the second, with Dallas falling behind by double digits. P.J. Washington in particular roasted the Mavericks inside during the opening four minutes. Dallas spent the middle part of the period working back to within a couple of possessions. After the Mavericks pulled within four points, the Hornets resumed getting to the rim with ease and quickly worked the lead back up to 12. The Hornets carried that into the half, leading 62-50.

The teams mostly traded baskets in the second quarter, with Doncic doing a fair share of barking and complaining about getting hit. Dallas cracked the Hornets’ lead to single digits a few times, only for the Hornets to immediately answer. A smaller bench unit led by Kyrie Irving chopped the Hornet lead down to one with 90 seconds in the quarter. The super-small unit couldn’t get over the hump but did give the Mavericks some much-needed juice. Dallas entered the final frame down 84-83.

A brilliant Jaden Hardy run to start the fourth sparked the Mavericks who finally came alive and took the first Dallas lead since the first quarter on a Tim Hardaway Jr. three. Not to be outdone, LaMelo Ball came alive, hitting four threes in the quarter to keep pace with the Mavericks in the opening minutes of the frame. The Hornets simply would not go quietly after Dallas looked for the knockout punch. The Mavericks stayed ahead on the strength of stellar shooting from Grant Williams, despite the heroics of Ball. Charlotte had a chance at a game-tying bucket with 8 seconds left, but Dallas forced a five-second violation and turnover.

Winning ugly is just fine

Did you watch this game? If you did... it was an awful slog. The Mavericks couldn’t hit and they couldn’t defend. They got down by as many as 15 points and the team looked like they had other plans. And yet, the Mavericks won anyway.

After covering this team for so long, I am over moral victories (at least for today) and prefer actual ones. I’d like the Dallas Mavericks to play better, of course, and find some defensive connectivity in the first quarter. But I’ll also take a 5-1 start with a little bit of luck over a 3-2 or 2-3 start with lessons learned.

What a great spark from Jaden Hardy

Hardy is the player who helped pull the Mavericks out of the doldrums. His three and floater plus the free throw got the Mavericks within one at the end of the third. Then his dunk and a parade of free throws in the opening minutes of the fourth brought the Mavericks to life.

With the rotations as they stand, Hardy doesn’t seem to have regular minutes. That he’s responded to an irregular role by contributing positively is valuable to a Dallas team that needs jolts on both sides of the ball. If this continues, he’ll force the coaching staff to give him more minutes.

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