The Dallas Mavericks dominated the Utah Jazz 147-97 Wednesday night in Dallas. Luka Doncic came out on fire and never looked back on the way to the first 25-plus point triple double in a half in NBA history. Doncic finished the first half with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
Kyrie Irving was also very good as he and Luka combined to score the Mavericks first 15 points. Irving finished the game with 26 points on 11-of-16 shooting and 4-of-7 three-point shooting to go along with three rebounds, four assists and three steals.
The Mavericks struggled a little defensively early, but this game was simply a blowout throughout. There was a tense moment in the third quarter when Kriss Dunn placed his hand on Doncic’ face and Collin Sexton became very upset. Dunn was called for a deserved technical while Doncic was called with an offsetting technical for... existing? Doncic’ technical fouls are always monitored because of the potential for a suspension, but this one should be rescinded.
Here are the things to know.
Big Poppa Doncic is a real thing
Doncic has been putting up sublime performances since well before his daughter was born. But, there has been a different energy level to his performance’s since she was born that offer real hope for Mavericks’ fans.
Doncic is among the most skilled players to have ever played this game. He is currently averaging 38.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 14.5 assists per game as a father. He has shooting splits of 53.2 percent from the floor, 44 percent from three and 68.2 percent from the free throw line. Players have taken leaps after their child was born before, such as Dorian Finney-Smith playing extremely well after the birth of his child a couple of years ago. The question for Doncic simply becomes how much better can he possibly be.
Dante Exum makes the Mavericks flow better
Exum was inserted into the starting lineup due to a Grant Williams injury. Exum has apparently proven that his shooting from Europe will not transfer as he was 2-of-9 from the field and 1-of-5 from three. More importantly his shooting form itself looked poor. That may not matter. He led the Mavericks with a plus-40 in the box score tonight.
Exum makes the Mavericks fit better on both ends. Doncic and Irving are phenomenal players, but they create lineup construction issues. Coupling them with Williams can further those issues due to his own limitations. Exum can guard the point of attack while also being bigger than some of the Mavericks’ other wing options. He is also the best passer on the team other than Irving and Doncic.
Exum’s ability to guard the point of attack allows super athlete Derrick Jones Jr. to roam and utilize his insane physical gifts more effectively. His ability to both handle the ball and pass allows him to act as a connective tissue between Doncic and Irving. That ability to be a connector could be an important step towards eliminating the Doncic versus Irving silliness amongst certain segments of fans as he allows both to be at their very best at the same time.
This was the best way to load manage players
Doncic led the Mavericks with 32 minutes. No other Maverick played more than Irving’s 27 minutes. All NBA teams struggle with the attempt to balance putting forth the best possible effort to win games, while also allowing their players enough rest to be in peak form when the games matter most.
Often times, this results in players missing games due to rest or exaggerated injuries. Games like tonight where the starters were able to sit for the entire fourth quarter are important in allowing teams to manage both goals without shortchanging their fans.
Overall, this was just a really fun and utterly dominating victory.