The Dallas Mavericks course-corrected the life raft Monday night, beating the Indiana Pacers 128-104 after two embarrassing losses to the Charlotte Hornets. The start to the game may have been slow but the remaining three quarters were rather emphatic. It was a sight for sore MFFL eyes.
The Mavericks were led by Luka Doncic, able to play after the league rescinded his 16th technical Monday afternoon. He notched 25 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Often, games just come down to effort and intensity and the Mavericks proved that tonight. They didn’t have rhythm from the tip, but they found ways to locate that wavelength and maintain it all the way to victory.
59%: Mavericks three-point shooting after the first quarter
Mentioned above, the game started slow for both teams. The Mavericks were 2-of-10 from three and the Pacers were 1-of-7. Cold shooting continued for Indiana but the Mavericks righted the ship pretty quickly, hitting 5-of-10 in the second quarter.
The Mavericks got hot and they stayed pretty locked in the rest of the way. The starters drained 10-of-22 from deep. In many ways that was the game right there.
This season the team has played quarters similar to tonight’s second, and then turnaround and cough any momentum back up after half. But tonight they rode that shooting wave until the game was out of reach.
1: Mavericks first half turnover
Outside of three-point shooting the reason the Mavericks found a comfortable win was taking care of the basketball. Their lone turnover in the first half was from JaVale McGee, and they scored 14 points off seven Pacers’ turnovers.
Yes, some of that is thanks to a lack of defensive pressure from the Pacers, but with effort comes attention to detail. The final box score (Mavericks 13 turnovers, Pacers 14) doesn’t tell the story of how the Mavericks created separation in the middle of the game.
+24: The Mavericks with Jaden Hardy on the floor
Rookie guard Jaden Hardy was a key piece of the victory tonight, posting 20 points, four rebounds, and four assists while shooting 4-of-6 from three in 24 minutes. He has had a solid month of March, now collecting his sixth game of 20-plus points in ten games.
The short-term future of the Mavericks has never been less clear, making the playoffs or not. But it should be clear that Hardy is a factor in the team’s long-term. He’s growing in comfort on the floor, and finding great rhythm from deep. Whether it’s to be a microwave sixth man scorer or something of greater potential is still to be determined. But it’s nice to see Hardy stringing these solid games together.
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