On Wednesday, the Dallas Mavericks returned to the court following a coronavirus outbreak within the team that resulted in the of postponing their matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday. They will now be on the road for a mini two game road trip hoping the outbreak has been contained within the team. They will start by playing the Charlotte Hornets in trying to keep their three game winning streak alive.
On Saturday, the Mavericks played the Orlando Magic with starters Josh Richardson and Dorian Finney-Smith and backup guard Jalen Brunson sidelined due to Covid-19 protocols. Tim Hardaway, Jr. scored his most points since joining the Mavericks with 36 points, complimented by Trey Burke having a 29 points and Luka Doncic recording another triple-double despite being shorthanded. The Mavericks were leading by six points heading into halftime and saw themselves catch fire as they went on a 18-2 run in the third quarter to ultimately run away with this game.
The Charlotte Hornets are coming into this game on a four game winning streak with wins consisting of the Atlanta Hawks (x2), the New York Knicks, and the New Orleans Pelicans. The Hornets found themselves in the midst of things in the Eastern Conference as they currently stand sixth with 1.5 GB from the top seed. The Hornets are looking to capitalize on their start to the season by finishing with a playoff spot at the end of the season. This success is a result of their offseason acquisitions that saw them drafting LaMelo Ball with the third pick in the draft and acquiring Gordon Hayward from the Boston Celtics. The Hornets now have the pieces capable of making a run at the playoffs after finishing just short last season.
Entering this, the Mavericks were defeated by these Hornets 118-99 in the final game in 2020 this season. This would be the last time these teams will play against each other in the first half of the season (the second half of the schedule is still not released). The Mavericks have taken three of the last five meetings with the Hornets holding the recent victory. Overall, the Mavericks currently lead the all-time series with a 40-20 record.
The Mavericks started this game by having Kristaps Porzingis back for the first time this season, back from knee surgery. Porzingis couldn’t have picked a better time to return to the Mavericks as they come into this game shorthanded and on a winning streak. The game began with teams exchanging threes but it would be Porzingis hitting his first bucket of the season by hitting a three to give the Mavericks an early 6-3 lead in the first quarter. The Hornets got off to a slow start, poor shot selection and inability to stop the Mavs while on the other end as Tim Hardaway Jr was able to make a driving dunk for a 11-5 lead. Hornets Head Coach, James Borrego, saw enough from these Mavericks and decided to take a timeout in hopes of the Hornets could wake up for this game. The slow start would continue for both teams but a Luka Doncic block would lead to finding Wes Iwundu on the fast break for an easy layup. Despite missing the start of the season, Kristaps Porzingis found his groove early by hitting his first two shots of the season for a quick six points to begin the game. The Mavericks defense started to show in this game by getting stops thus allowing them to get into their offense and score points. A 6-4 run by the Mavericks would lead to another timeout by the Hornets as they try to get their offense going. In the final minutes of the quarter, the Mavericks were able to increase their lead to 12 points in large part of their defense. The quarter would end with the Mavericks leading the Hornets 32-16 with a exclamation dunk by Boban Marjanovic. Luka Doncic was able to get things going for the Mavericks by scoring or assisting on 24 of the 32 points in the quarter. The Mavericks shot the ball pretty well in the quarter by going 13 of 25 (52%) from the field due to good looks they are getting. The Mavericks were stingy on defense by limiting the Hornets to shoot 6 of 24 (25%) from the field.
The Hornets try to stop the bleeding in the second quarter but couldn’t get their shots to go down. Their defense continue to break apart by allowing Kristaps Porzingis to drive to the hoop for an easy two points. With three minutes into the quarter, the Hornets would only make a field goal continuing their cold start in this game. The Hornets were to make a stop on defense leading to a Caleb Martin dunk and draw a foul to go to the free-throw line, resulting in the Mavericks taking a full timeout. Tim Hardaway Jr was able to continue his hot shooting by hitting back-to-back threes thus creating a 18 point lead for the Mavericks. The Hornets simply couldn’t get things going on offense with the Mavericks limiting points in the paint. Midway through the quarter and the Hornets have only made four field goals as that is not the way you want to find a victory out of this one. A beautiful cut by James Johnson to drive to the paint as Luka Doncic was able to find him for an easy two points as the Hornets defense continue to be nowhere near to be found. The Hornets are playing this game as if they were missing their stinger as they continue to not be a threat to the Mavericks. As both teams would exchange hitting threes, the Hornets were able to find P.J. Washington for a layup as the Mavericks defense broke down on that possession. Out of a Mavericks timeout, the Hornets were able to find some type of rhythm by finding good shots in hopes of ending the quarter on a good note. The Mavericks were able to remain control of this game and of this quarter by taking a 17 point lead into the third quarter with the score 60-43. The Mavericks would get three players in double figures with Luka Doncic leading the team with 16 points on 7 of 13 shooting. The Hornets struggled in the half by only having one player in double digits and that would be Terry Rozier leading the team with 12 points. What could go wrong for the Hornets went wrong as they struggled creating shots on offense while their defense was nowhere to be found. In his return to the court, Kristaps Porzingis was able to protect the rim on defense while also scoring 10 points for the Mavericks on 4 of 10 shooting.
Coming out of the half, the Mavericks would continue their good start to this game with Kristaps Porzingis hitting back-to-back corner threes to increase their lead to 22 points in the early stages of the third quarter. You couldn’t of asked Porzingis to get off to a better start than this after returning from knee surgery. After Luka Doncic trying to draw a foul to go to the free-throw line in what would be unsuccessful, the Hornets were able to capitalize on it by getting two points in transition that would result in Rick Carlisle calling a timeout. The Hornets found their rhythm and as a result were able to go on a 12-0 run to cut into the Mavericks lead. Luka Doncic was able to hit a step back three to give the Mavericks much needed points as all of a sudden the Hornets were in the rear view mirror. The Mavericks defense was suddenly collapsing as they allowed four quick points to the Hornets as all of a sudden the lead would be 9 points with 6:33 left in the third quarter. The Hornets were able to cut a 22 point deficit into a 9 point deficit as the Mavericks started to get lazy on the defensive end. It would appear that the Mavericks got these Hornets angry and it forced them to get their stingers out, as now they are a threat to take this game away from the Mavericks. A Luka Doncic block would then lead him finding Josh Green for an alley oop as they Mavericks try to put this game away from the Hornets. The Mavericks defense saw improvement from earlier in the quarter by getting stops. The quarter would end with the Mavericks taking a 87-72 lead into the fourth quarter. Luka Doncic would finish the quarter scoring 16 points and 6 rebounds for the Mavericks that saw the Hornets trying to comeback in the game. The Hornets were able to outscore the Mavericks in the quarter by a 29-27 margin. The Triple-Double watch is put on in this game as Luka Doncic needs 2 assists to record another one.
The Mavericks were able to start this quarter by going on a 5-0 run to increase their lead to 20 points in the early stages of the quarter. Caleb Martin was able to kill the run by the Mavericks with a layup for the Hornets as they hope to make one last run in this game. Tim Hardaway drove to the basket for two points while also getting fouled and would complete the three point play at the free-throw line that would give him 14 points to this point. With the time being in their favor, the Mavericks were trying to cut some time away from the Hornets to prevent another run by them. With the lead being 17 points, the Hornets would need to get their offense going in order to have any chance of coming back with 7:11 left in the game. All of their points by the Hornets has been near the hoop as that’s not going to cut it in this one, they would need to hit a couple of threes to make it a game. With 6:20 left in the game it would give Luka Doncic one last opportunity at recording another triple-double being 2 assists away. The Mavericks defense hasn’t allowed these Hornets to get easy and quick shots thus seeing the game slip away for the Hornets. In the final 2:00 minutes of the game, the Mavericks were able to finish off the Hornets by draining out the clock.
This team looked good to begin the game by creating their own shots and getting their offense going. Luka Doncic had himself a night by going off for 34 points against the Hornets. The Mavericks were able to bounce back from a loss to the Hornets with a win in this one. The Mavericks saw themselves getting lazy at times in third quarter and that allowed the Hornets to find their groove and go on a run to try to catch these Mavericks sleeping. Kristaps Porzingis had himself a game in his first game back by scoring 16 points to go along with 9 rebounds. The Mavericks defense were able to limit the Hornets settling in this game by limiting them to shooting 38% from the field on 38 of 100.
In the end it was the Mavericks claiming victory in this one as they defeat the Hornets 0-0 to improve to 6-4 on the season and see their winning streak increase to four games. Luka Doncic finished this game 1 assist shy of another triple-double as he finishes with 34 points, 13 rebounds and 9 assists. In his first game back since August, Kristaps Porzingis looked sharp by finishing with 16 points and 4 rebounds. Congratulations to Rick Carlisle as this win gives him 800 in his NBA coaching career.
The Mavericks will continue to travel as they will now head to Milwaukee to face the Bucks on Friday in hoping of trying to keep their winning streak alive. Luka will have a chance to strengthen his MVP case by taking on the two time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo on his home floor.