AJ Lawson is making the most of his opportunities. The Dallas Mavericks’ two-way wing is seeing additional playing time with a slew of injuries befalling the team. He walked away from Saturday night’s 144-119 win over the San Antonio Spurs, having notched one of the best performances of his career.
He recorded career highs in points, field goals made, rebounds, assists, and minutes played, finishing the game with 17 points, seven field goals made, seven rebounds, and three assists in 30:35 minutes. His boxscore-stuffing outing caught the attention of fans, and his recent play earned praise from Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd.
“A.J.’s been great—the speed, the energy,” Kidd said in his postgame press conference. “He’s shooting the ball well. He shoots the ball extremely well at home. The time that he’s been on the floor has been a positive for us.
“We’re going to need that with the injuries that we have. As you know, it gets tricky when we get healthy because those guys won’t play as much. Right now, we’re going to stay in the moment and get those guys to play at a high level, and A.J.’s doing that for us right now.”
Despite checking in with a little more than four minutes to play in the first quarter, Lawson didn’t come alive until the second quarter. He scored a team-leading 10 points in the second, shooting 4-5 overall and knocking down two of his three three-point shots. He also had three rebounds, an assist, and a steal in the frame.
His most emphatic points of the quarter came with 5:41 to play. Luka Doncic passed him the ball after crossing midcourt, and Lawson drove the lane, throwing down a highlight reel dunk to give the Mavericks a 59-50 lead.
Lawson didn’t score again until the fourth quarter, leading Dallas in scoring with seven points on 3-4 shooting. He finished the game with 17 points on 70 percent shooting, seven rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
Lawson has now appeared in 12 consecutive games, playing more than 10 minutes in five. With injuries continuing to sideline Kyrie Irving, Dereck Lively II, Josh Green, and Maxi Kleber, it stands to reason that Lawson will see more playing time as the Mavericks close out 2023.