The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Utah Jazz, 124-111. Somehow. And “Mavericks” should really be in air quotes, because what the heck was that? Josh Green and Jaden Hardy scored a whopping 29 points each.
Well, if World War III breaks out and the draft is reinstated, stealing able-bodied men from the ranks of the NBA, the Dallas Mavericks at least have a pretty good idea of the kind of rotations they’d run based on the experience gained from this weird-ass game.
Luka Doncic and Maxi Kleber remain out, and Dorian Finney-Smith and Spencer Dinwiddie are Nets. Josh Green and McKinley Wright IV were thrust into starting roles alongside Reggie Bullock, Dwight Powell, and Tim Hardaway Jr. It was Green who quickly made that look like a stroke of genius. He set a new career-high alongside Jaden Hardy, co-lead the team in scoring with 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting and a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Hardy had a 8-for-12 night from the floor and 4-of-6 from three.
Jordan Clarkson led the Jazz with 26 points, but that’s likely of little comfort in what must register as one of the more embarrassing losses on the season.
Mirror mirror Mavericks
The NBA is a league about matchups. Planning for your opponent and trying to force them out of their comfort zone. Well, this was a real curveball for Utah, because there was no way to plan for this Dallas squad. What they were going to roll out with such a severely shorthanded bench was a complete mystery. What ended up happening was Dallas played completely against type and it earned them the win.
Dallas has been an unapologetically slow-paced team for years, but tonight, powered by the youthful exuberance of Green and Hardy, the Mavs blitzed the Jazz and caught them with their pants down. They outscored Utah 27-to-4 on fastbreak points and 24-to-12 on second-chance points (powered in large part by Dwight Powell and his EIGHT offensive rebounds. He had 16 total boards, another career high.) A fast-paced, glass-eating, hard-nosed Dallas squad was not something any reasonable team could have prepared for, and tonight, the element of surprise worked in Dallas’ favor.
The Hardy Party runs on Green Energy
There is a land rush on Josh Green Island. Longtime inhabitants and natives say they are running dangerously low on “I-told-you-so”s. He finished the game with a bonkers plus-39. When the Jazz were making things close in the fourth, it was Green re-entering the game that made it feel like things were secure. To be able to trust a non-Luka Maverick to close the door in the fourth is a new and welcome feeling.
Meanwhile, hype levels emanating from rookie Jaden Hardy are reaching unsustainable levels. With the team predictably falling behind 37-25 after the first quarter, it was six points on two quick back-to-back threes from Hardy that brought Dallas to within four. It was signs of life for Dallas that blossomed into one of the more baffling wins of the season.
Dallas, infamously, was 0-7 in games without Luka Doncic this season. The trade to acquire Kyrie Irving was, in theory, supposed to reduce Dallas’ dependence on Doncic, and still have enough firepower if he misses some time to not come to a complete screeching halt.
Well, Dallas is ONE-and-7 without Luka Doncic now! This is a strong, independent roster, and they don’t need no All-Star to get a win.
If you believe the universe has a balance to it, you can chalk up this weirdo win as a counter to some of the more baffling losses earlier this season like the collapse against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
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