Dallas Mavericks 88, Memphis Grizzlies 104
Stat Leaders: Points: 28, Hardy; Assists: 7, Green; Rebounds: 8, Hardy
Surprising Stat: This was the Mavericks’ lowest point total since November 9.
Dallas Mavericks 137, San Antonio Spurs 128
Stat Leaders: Points: 28, Wood; Assists: 7, Green; Rebounds: 13, Wood
Surprising Stat: This was the first game in Mavericks’ history with five different 20-point scorers.
Dallas Mavericks 111, Los Angeles Lakers 110
Stat Leaders: Points: 38, Irving; Assists: 8, Wood; Rebounds: 9, Wood
Surprising Stat: Dallas is now 1-12 when they have a chance to win or tie on their final possession in the game’s final 15 seconds.
MVP of the Week: Jaden Hardy
Without Luka Dončić for the entire week and Kyrie Irving for the first two games, Hardy was thrust into the captain’s chair as the primary offensive playmaker.
With the dynamic duo sidelined, Hardy decided to throw a party.
Hardy became the first rookie in franchise history to score 20 or more points in each of his first three starts. Hardy also passed Dirk Nowitzki for the fourth-most 20-point games in franchise history by a rookie.
On the week, Hardy averaged 17.7 points (significantly reduced by his five-minute, three-point performance against the Lakers) on 34.1% shooting from the floor and 40.9% shooting from three-point range.
Hardy is the only player on the team, outside of Dončić and Irving, to consistently create rim pressure with his drives. While his efficiency needs significant improvement (50.6% on shots in the restricted area) this is something that will hopefully improve with time.
At just 20, Hardy is young, but Dallas might have found another scrappy second-round pick to replace the one they lost last offseason.
“He can score, that’s for sure,” Dwight Powell said of Hardy. “He’s doing a great job of throttling his aggression at times to help the team.”
Surprise of the Week: Maxi Kleber’s Buzzer-Beater
The Mavericks, since the All-Star break, have been struggling. Sometimes, however, it takes one shot to change a season.
Kleber’s buzzer-beater against the Lakers might ultimately be that shot.
The Lakers led Dallas by four points with just seven seconds left, and Dallas looked well on its way to taking another loss.
Kleber, however, decided otherwise.
Lakers’ Anthony Davis fouled Kleber on a three-point shot, and Kleber made all three free throws. Davis then split a pair of free throws after being fouled, and the Lakers led by two points with just 6.1 seconds left.
On the proceeding possession, Theo Pinson (some things never change) inbounded the ball to Irving, who, after dodging multiple defenders, found Kleber open with under two seconds left.
The rest is history.
This win was desperately needed for Dallas and the game-winner was desperately needed for Kleber. For Dallas, the win catapulted them back into sixth place and gave them the tiebreaker over the Lakers in the playoff race. For Kleber, it gave him redemption for the rough end-of-regulation sequence he had against San Antonio in the prior game. The game-winner was also the first of his NBA career.
“It was a special moment,” Kleber said of his heroics.
Stock Up: Josh Green
This season has been a rollercoaster for Green.
After struggling mightily in last season’s playoffs, Green worked his way from being a bench pariah to being a key starter, capped off by a six-game stretch at the beginning of February where he averaged 18.3 points. Quizzically, many of his minutes were taken by recent signee Justin Holiday, damaging his confidence and cutting his hot streak short.
Yet, when duty called, Green stepped back up to the challenge.
Without Dončić and Irving, Green tallied three-straight 20-point games (including the Memphis game to cap off last week), the first such stretch of his career, and guided Dallas to a needed win over the Spurs.
Green is at his best when he is aggressive and confident, and that is reflected in his scoring output. On the week, Green averaged 17.7 points on 54.8% shooting from the floor and 35.7% shooting from three-point range. He is a blur in transition and has developed a crafty mid-range game that makes him a more diverse offensive threat.
Kidd is known for his lineup tinkering, even into the later stages of the regular season, but it is clear Green has done enough to solidify a spot in the starting lineup. It was obvious, both visibly and statistically, that temporarily losing minutes to Holiday hurt his confidence. It is Kidd’s responsibility to be aware of when changes are to be made, yet it is also his responsibility to be aware of when continuity is necessary.
Ultimately, Kidd just needs to play his best players. Green, in his bounce-back week, has done enough to show that he is one of them.
Stock Down: Tim Hardaway Jr.
Hardaway Jr. was on fire coming out of the All-Star break.
So it was only a matter of time before he would cool down.
Hardaway Jr. shot just 27.3% from the floor and 18.2% from deep in two games this week. He has been bothered by leg injuries since the break, and it caught up with him this week, as he averaged just 8.5 points this week compared to 18.5 in the previous eight games.
Hardaway Jr. is the epitome of a hot-and-cold player, with the ability to go on blistering hot stretches immediately followed by brick-laying cold stretches. His shooting can keep Dallas in a game, as it did in the win against the Utah Jazz last week (shooting 8-of-12), or take them out of one, as it did against Memphis this week (shooting 2-of-10).
With just 11 games left in the regular season in a hotly contested Western Conference, Dallas needs Hardaway Jr. to return to his hot-shooting form.
March 20 @ Memphis Grizzlies
March 22 vs Golden State Warriors
March 24 vs Charlotte Hornets
March 26 @ Charlotte Hornets