Dallas Mavericks 126, New York Knicks 121
Stat Leaders: Points: 60, Dončić; Assists: 11, Dončić; Rebounds: 21, Dončić
Surprising Stat: The Mavericks won after trailing by nine with less than 35 seconds left, the only team to do so in the last 20 seasons.
Dallas Mavericks 129, Houston Rockets 114
Stat Leaders: Points: 35, Dončić; Assists: 13, Dončić; Rebounds: 12, Dončić
Surprising Stat: Luka Dončić is tied with Nikola Jokić with a league-leading eight triple-doubles this season.
Dallas Mavericks 126, San Antonio Spurs 125
Stat Leaders: Points: 51, Dončić; Assists: 9, Dončić; Rebounds: 7, Wood
Surprising Stat: Dončić has the most 40 and 50-point performances in Mavericks’ franchise history.
MVP of the Week: Luka Dončić
We are reaching levels of basketball absurdity previously untouched by Luka Dončić.
Dončić is in the midst of one of the greatest stretches in NBA history. While it extends beyond the scope of this week, Dončić is averaging a mind-boggling 45.6 points, 11.2 rebounds and 10.2 assists on 59.8% shooting from the floor and 50% shooting from three-point range over his last five games. In that span, he has tallied three 50-point outings and two triple-doubles.
He has simply been unstoppable.
Every point that Dončić has scored has been necessary for the Mavericks to win, especially during this injury-ridden stretch. His third-quarter triple-double helped put away the Rockets, and his 50-piece against the Spurs helped stave off a San Antonio comeback.
Plus, he recorded one of the greatest games in NBA history against the New York Knicks.
Basketball Reference’s game score statistic (which considers games from the 1983 season and forward) awarded Dončić’s performance with the fifth-highest game score of all time. He became the first player in NBA history to tally at least 60 points, 20 rebounds, and 10 assists in a game. He was the first player since Shaquille O’Neal back in 2000, and only the third player in NBA history, to tally 60 points and 20 rebounds in a game.
Dončić is shattering both NBA and Mavericks’ records and has shown no signs of slowing down.
All hail The Don.
Surprise of the Week: Miracle Comeback against the Knicks
Most of the media coverage surrounding the win over the Knicks centered on Dončić’s historical performance.
But let’s give some love to the supporting cast.
The Mavericks were, once again, missing Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith and Josh Green. A lot of pressure was on this starting lineup to perform.
And they did.
Christian Wood was huge throughout the game and was integral in orchestrating the comeback. All of his 19 points were needed, and his three-pointer with 27 seconds left cut the lead down to six. While he struggled defensively against Knicks’ center Mitchell Robinson, he recorded three blocks, including a crucial overtime block on a three-point attempt to seal the victory.
Spencer Dinwiddie was equally instrumental in the comeback. His 25-point performance was the second-highest scoring output for Dallas, and his three-pointer with 10 seconds left cut the Knicks’ lead to one.
NBA teams were 0-13,884 when trailing by nine with less than 35 seconds left in the last twenty seasons, according to ESPN.
That record is now 1-13,884.
Stock Up: Christian Wood
If it were not for Luka Dončić breaking all basketball conventions with his current tear, Christian Wood would easily find himself in the “MVP of the Week” category.
Wood has been an (unsurprising) revelation since he joined the starting lineup, with the team going 6-2 over that span. The Mavs have posted a 118.1 offensive rating, good for fourth in the league, since Wood was added to the opening group.
This week, Wood averaged 21.7 points on 55.6% shooting from the floor and 50% shooting from three-point range, 7.3 rebounds and 2.7 blocks.
Wood has solidified himself as the second-best player on the team and has dispelled many concerns about his defensive capabilities. As the trade deadline grows near, the Mavericks will have to consider offering Wood a contract extension.
“His rim protection has been huge for us,” Dwight Powell said of Wood after the victory over the Rockets. “He’s doing a great job of being the low man.”
Stock Down: Team Defense
Every point that Dončić has scored over this stretch has been needed by the Mavericks.
That speaks as much to Dončić’s impact as it does to the team’s defensive struggles.
The Mavericks allowed the Knicks, without Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett (who left the game in the first minute) to score 121 points. The Spurs, with the fourth-worst offensive rating in the NBA, shot 55% from the floor and 42% from deep and scored 125 points against Dallas.
The Mavs were the eighth-worst defense by rating in the league this week despite playing two of its more sluggish offenses. Normally, it would be fair to chalk these defensive struggles up to injuries, but the Mavericks have the 18th overall defensive rating since the start of the season.
When Mavericks’ coach Jason Kidd was leading the Milwaukee Bucks, they too had a similar decline. After posting the fourth-best defensive rating in Kidd’s first season, they plummeted to 23rd the following season. They failed to exceed 19th in his last two years at the helm. This will be something to keep an eye on.
With Maxi Kleber likely out for the season, Dorian Finney-Smith likely missing the next two weeks and Josh Green’s return date not yet established, it will be a while before defensive reinforcements arrive.
“We have a tough stretch of games coming up,” Wood said after the win over the Spurs. “We have to keep up the defensive intensity.”
Jan. 2 @ Houston Rockets
Jan. 5 vs Boston Celtics
Jan. 7 vs New Orleans Pelicans
Jan. 8 vs Oklahoma City Thunder