The Dallas Mavericks took down the San Antonio Spurs Wednesday night in San Antonio, winning 137-128. The game had an exhibition feel to it with so many key rotation players from both teams missing, but that’s March in the NBA. The win is huge for the Mavericks, as they’re sitting eighth in the Western Conference after the win.
The game was messy, weird, and...entertaining? It was a fun time, with more than 20 lead changes. The Mavericks had the game in hand with less than a minute remaining, but a Maxi Kleber miscue on an inbound gave the Spurs a chance. They capitalized on it. Gregg Popovich drew up a great play on their inbound that got a lob to Keldon Johnson to tie the game. It didn’t matter, though, because Dallas took control in overtime and pulled out the win.
Christian Wood led all scorers with 28 points off the bench. Jaden Hardy scored 22 points. Johnson led the Spurs with 27 points to go along with eight rebounds. Malachi Branham chipped in 20 points off the bench.
Here are four thoughts from the game:
It doesn’t take much for basketball players to get out of rhythm when the lineup on the floor is churned. Guys get used to playing with each other and develop a sixth sense of who’s going to be where. When the best players are out and role players are thrust into different roles, no one knows what’s going to happen on any given play.
That was obvious tonight. The Mavericks turned it over 19 times, but there were plenty more deflections and mishandles that could have increased that number. Dallas caught some lucky bounces and didn’t pay for a lot of their sloppy play. The Spurs, meanwhile, only turned the ball over 10 times. It’s unusual for Dallas, but again, it was an unusual rotation.
Reggie Bullock rebounds
We’ll call this one the Dorian Finney-Smith Memorial Game, because Bullock went out and put on a rebounding tribute to the recently traded Finney-Smith. Bullock grabbed 13 rebounds, a career-high for the ninth-year veteran. Anytime you can get rebounding like that from a wing player you’re at a huge rebounding advantage. It’s something the Mavericks have been missing since Finney-Smith departed, and it’s good to know Bullock can clean the glass just as well.
Dwight Powell points
Powell scored a season-high 22 points, just four short of his career high of 26 points. Fans often get frustrated by Powell because he often struggles against elite opponents. But he’s always in the right places, doing the little things that are important for basketball teams. It’s nice to see him have a big scoring game.
Josh Green and Jaden Hardy are interesting
It’s important you know that I do not like rookies on playoff contenders. I’m like Rick Carlisle, LeBron James, and every 1990s NBA player turned coach rolled into one. And yet Hardy has softened my stance. Early on I thought he had a nice shot, but didn’t have the explosiveness to get separation in the NBA. He still hasn’t shown anything like that, but he’s also shown it doesn’t matter. He just scores, finding little ways to get open or sneak through the lane on a cut and get an easy layup. Hardy is intriguing.
Meanwhile, I’m a certified Green hater. He’s done some inexplicable things on the court that made me wonder if he’d be in the NBA in 2025. But no longer. I’m not fully onboard the Green experience. I do love seeing him score off the dribble and hit fade away jumpers, though. He’s become remarkably aggressive when defenders close out on him, and that’s something the Mavericks need.
For the first time in a while, Dallas has two young players that have me excited. That’s something to look forward to next year, because, *waves hand at this season*.