The Mavericks got the welcome return of Kyrie Irving, who had to knock off some rust in the first half but finished with a solid game, shooting 10-of-17 and putting up a Dallas-leading 23 points to go with his eight assists on just a single turnover. Josh Green had a huge night for Dallas as well, as he was seemingly the only Maverick who came out of the tunnel ready to play. His nearly-perfect first half prevented what became a double-digit 76er lead from becoming something much worse, and stabilized Dallas long enough for Irving, Luka Doncic, and Maxi Kleber to get it going.
The 76ers had a rough go of it offensively with Tyrese Maxey in early foul trouble and on a bad shooting night. Kelly Oubre Jr. led Philly’s scorers with 19, but all five of the 76ers starters finished with a negative +/-.
With the Mavericks stars off to a slow start in this game, the Mavericks were able to prevent the 76ers from completely running away with it thanks to the efforts of Josh Green.
Except for a hot potato Green had to heave at the first-half buzzer, he was perfect from the floor and the free-throw line. He made all four free throws and went 3-of-4 from deep to end the half with 15 points. No other Maverick cracked double digits in the half. To go along with his offensive output, he also contributed his usual energy plays that don’t always show up in the box score. He had a diving save to prevent an out-of-bounds call that would’ve been Philly ball and had two steals. (He turned those two steals into breakaways where he drew fouls and two trips to the line.)
It was the quintessential Green game, and the kind of showing fans are desperate to see more consistently.
So that’s what that feels like
With Joel Embiid out, the 76ers were, understandably, going to struggle to replace the effect of an MVP-level player. Still, they have a solid rotation, and Tyrese Maxey’s breakout year has shown he can shoulder the offensive load when called upon.
Still, Dallas was able to put Maxey in a terrible spot. He picked up three personal fouls in the first quarter which led to him playing just 15 minutes in the first half. Whether his rhythm was off or Dallas’ defensive focus on him was able to prevent him from getting his shot going, he was largely a non-factor with just 15 points before the 76ers waved the white flag and emptied the bench when they went down big in the fourth quarter.
Dallas headed into the fourth and final quarter with a three-point lead. Considering they’d been down by as many as 11 in the first half, to be up at all already felt like a big win for morale. But to get the actual win, Dallas still had to take care of business in the fourth.
Take care of business they did; the King Himself would’ve been proud of the Mavs’ 41-to-28 frame that wasn’t even as close as that lopsided number may seem. Dallas shot 7-of-10 from three in the quarter and had chased the 76ers rotation players from the game roughly halfway through when they took a 20-point lead, 105-85.
For Dallas, a team averaging -1.1 in fourth quarters this year, this kind of outcome is never guaranteed, but hopefully, as players get healthy and everyone locks in post-All-Star break, we’ll see it a little more often.
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