Image Credit: @MavsPR
After winning their previous two game by a combined 90 points, the Dallas Mavericks traveled down south to take on the rival Houston Rockets in a big-time matchup of two of the League’s top talents in Luka Doncic and James Harden.
The Mavericks absolutely dominated their last two games by playing incredible team basketball but it was no doubt against some lesser talent against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors. New day, new opponent, same result. The #1 offense in the NBA stayed that way as the Mavericks led start to finish on way to a 137-123 win.
Box Score and Recap
Head Coach Rick Carlisle has now used the same starting lineup for three straight games. Inserting Tim Hardaway Jr. into the starting unit has seemed to balance out the lineups and jump start his offensive output. The rotations are beginning to settle in and it looks like Jalen Brunson and Justin Jackson are going to be on the outside looking in on most nights.
The Mavericks started this game by turning defense into offense. Porzingis protected the paint, as he does so well, and Tim Hardaway Jr scooped it up and pushed the ball ahead to Luka who slams home the first two points of the game. The very next play the Mavs did the same thing, Finney-Smith comes up with the steal and takes it coast to coast for an uncontested jam.
The onslaught continued, the Mavs had the paint locked down and the Rockets were ice cold from the three point line as they jumped out to a 16-4 lead three minutes into the game. There was not stopping these Mavs in the first quarter. Threes were falling, Luka was making plays for teammates who were capitalizing on those opportunities. It was pretty clear right off the bat that Tim Hardaway, Jr’s hot streak was not about to end this game, everything he was touching was turning to gold. The Mavs we firing on all cylinders and dropped 45 points in the first quarter to the Rockets 29. Luka led the way for the Mavs with 11 points, 4 assists. Porzingis almost solidified a double-double in the first quarter with 10 points and 8 rebounds and THJ and Dorian Finney-Smith both chipped in 7 points a piece to contribute to the 16 point lead.
The Mavericks were able to keep hold of their big lead throughout the second quarter and went into halftime with a 78-61 lead. The Mavericks offense was just too much to handle. Mavs shot 48% on their 21 three point attempts in the first half, had 16 assists, and had three players with at least 15 points (Luka 17, KP 15, THJ 19).
The Rockets showed some fight in the third quarter and were able to close the Mavs lead down to 10. The Rockets would get it as close as 5 part way through the fourth quarter but it was just too much Luka Doncic who added 13 of his 41 points in the 4th quarter.
James Harden only had 3 points in the 4th on 1 of 4 shooting, all threes. I take a lot of joy in going down to Houston and handing them a decisive loss. It seems pretty clear, although early in the season, that the Mavs and Rockets are going to be competing for the Southwest Division title and taking the first game against them in their own building is a great step in achieving that goal.
The activity around the basket that Kristaps Porzingis has displayed over the past several games has been so impressive. The play in this video above. He has been battling on the defensive glass, is an offensive tip-in master, and is changing a ton of opponent shots in the paint which is jump starting transition baskets. Luka Doncic is putting on a show every night but we should not let it overshadow the impact that Kristaps Porzingis is having in all aspects of the game as he continues to get his rhythm back from his long basketball layoff. He looks more and more comfortable out there each game and the team results are showing it.
Tim Hardaway, Jr.
Over the last three games Tim Hardaway, Jr. is averaging 22.3 points per game on 67% shooting including 65% on threes and 83% from the free throw line. Being put into the starting lineup has allowed him to get better shots, better driving lanes, and he is taking advantage of the opportunities. I don’t expect this to continue, it just can’t at this pace but this does look like a breakthrough for THJ and for this team. It is just a three game sample size but I think THJ and solidified a starting role going forward. He will have off nights and hopefully the lows aren’t so low as they were over the first few weeks of the season, but we have now seen the potential of this team if THJ can be a legitimate third scoring punch.
If there were still any doubters that Luka Doncic is a legitimate MVP candidate they should all have been put to rest after this one. 41 points (on 15-28 shooting), 10 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block, and he won the duel with fellow MVP candidate James Harden. Luka is unstoppable, he does too many things exceptionally well. There is no ceiling on what this man can accomplish and I am just happy to be along for the ride.
As of today the Dallas Mavericks lead the Southwest Division. What a great Day to be a Mavs fans, we about a fifth of the way through the 2019-2020 NBA season and the Dallas Mavericks looks like they may just be a force in the Playoffs before many people expected. Blowing out two sub-par teams was not enough to make up for the two disappointing Knicks losses but going on the road and handing a beatdown to Brody and the Beard is enough to get me fired up about where this Mavs team can go. Winning the Division is a very realistic goal and that is something we have not been able to say in a long time as Mavs fans. Enjoy this victory and cheers to many more to come!
|New Orleans Pelicans||6||11||0.353||5.5|
|San Antonio Spurs||6||11||0.353||5.5|
The Mavs look to add another statement win to their resume on Tuesday when they take on the supremely talented LA Clippers at home at 7:30 pm CT.
|1||Los Angeles Lakers||14||2||0.88|
|3||Los Angeles Clippers||12||5||0.71|
|T-10||New Orleans Pelicans||6||11||0.35|
|T-10||San Antonio Spurs||6||11||0.35|
|T-12||Oklahoma City Thunder||5||10||0.33|
|13||Portland Trail Blazers||5||12||0.29|
|14||Golden State Warriors||3||14||0.18|