The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night in Los Angeles, winning 110-104. Kyrie Irving debuted for the Mavericks (more on him later), filling in nicely for the injured Luka Doncic. Picking up a win while shorthanded and on the road is always encouraging.
The Mavericks started the game red hot, hitting 9-of-13 shots from behind the arc in the first quarter. They scored 41 (nice) points total in the first 12 minutes. But the Clippers quickly recovered by stepping up their defense. After committing zero turnovers in the opening quarter, the Mavericks gave the ball up eight times in the second. After leading by 19 at one point, Dallas went into halftime with just an eight point lead.
The Clippers kept chipping away at the Mavericks’ lead in the second half, but Dallas kept getting timely shots to hold them at bay. Tim Hardaway Jr., Reggie Bullock, and even Theo Pinson hit key shots to preserve the Mavericks’ lead. But Dallas kept turning the ball over (seven more in the third quarter), allowing the Clippers to stay close. The Mavericks continued hitting just enough shots in the fourth quarter to keep the lead, and the Clippers offense sputtered. Dallas came away with a win, their fourth in five games.
Here are three observations from the game:
Kyrie Irving’s first game went well
Irving scored 24 points and had five assists, a straight forward line. There didn’t seem to be any awkwardness with the fit on the court. The Mavericks are already built for a star player to score off of isolations, and Irving could easily fit into the missing Luka Doncic’s role. But Irving also seemed to be playing cautious at times, trying to find exactly where he fit into the Dallas offense. He could’ve scored more but seemed to be extra willing to make the right play. Jason Kidd seemed to be careful with Irving’s minutes as well. There’ll be an adjustment period when Doncic returns, as well, so it’ll likely be a few games until we see Irving truly light up opponents.
Reggie Bullock is thrust into a bigger role
Bullock started out on fire, hitting his first five 3-pointers. It looked like he was going to have one of those nights that Tim Hardaway Jr. is known for—suddenly erupting for 28 points on a random Wednesday night. But it wasn’t in the stars. Bullock went on to hit just 1-of-7 threes the remainder of the game. He finished the night with 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting from deep. With the trade of Dorian Finney-Smith, Bullock has to step up and be a consistent 3-point threat and perimeter defender. He can’t struggle to shoot the way he did earlier in the year. Early on tonight, it looked as if he might be ready to replace Finney-Smith and then some. Still, it’s nice to see his shot falling at a decent rate.
The Mavericks pushed the ball, but were sloppy with it
I’ve often written that the Mavericks should pick up their pace, and not by a little. Irving pushes the ball much more than Doncic, who prefers to plod and execute slowly. If the Mavericks running more comes at the expense of them turning the ball over like tonight, though, maybe they should just keep their pace slow. The Mavericks shot the Clippers out of the building (49 percent on threes), but the turnovers kept Los Angeles in the game. There’s probably a happy medium between the reckless running and the excruciating slow Mavericks pace that they’ll find the next few months.
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