Bounce back victories are crucial when a team drops an unnecessary game to a lesser team, as Dallas did on Saturday against the Hornets. Bounce back is exactly what the Mavericks did tonight, as they fought off the hard-nosed Bulls, 118-110.
Another Luka third quarter/performance
It honestly feels normal now. Think about that; a 20-year-old making a 21-point outburst in a quarter feel normal.
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) January 7, 2020
Well, that’s how it feels. There’s just something about those third quarters that get Luka going. Whether it was from three or driving to the cup, there wasn’t a soul in a Bulls uniform that could slow him down.
Doncic finished with a smooth 38 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists, adding to his league-leading 11th triple-double. When Luka gets going like this, watch out, league.
THJ is back
He was surely missed. Timmy stepped back into the Maverick lineup as if he never left. He caught fire right from the jump, scoring 14 first quarter points.
“We really missed him,” Carlisle said of Hardaway Jr. “We really missed his energy, his attitude on the floor, and what he brings on both ends.”
The Mavs definitely missed THJ’s outside shooting during his absence. Though he slowed down in the second half and was on somewhat of a minutes restriction, which Carlisle confirmed post game, having Tim on the floor to stretch the defense is huge for Luka and this offense.
Mavericks miss KP
And not just his ability to stretch the floor. What they honestly miss most is his rim protection and size on the glass.
Though the rebounding numbers were neck-and-neck throughout the night, the Bulls were getting to the rim and finishing at ease.
KP has proven to be the Mavs best rim protector, averaging 2.1 blocks per game. Whether he’s blocking shots or not, just his presence inside alters shots left and right, which the Mavericks could’ve used tonight and would surely benefit from against contending caliber teams the Nuggets, Lakers, and Sixers later this week.
“Hardest playing team in the league”
Carlisle wasn’t lying. That’s what he said about the Bulls before tonight’s game. Though they’re 11 games under .500 after tonight, they play damn hard for head coach Jim Boylen.
Tonight was a dog fight from the opening tip to the final buzzer. Neither team could get a run going without the other team answering, until the fourth, specifically in that third quarter where Luka was going bananas.
These are games that the Mavs should win. Almost must wins when you think about the toss up matchups against playoff teams. To help secure a playoff spot, let alone attempt their hand at a top-four seed, the Mavericks can’t overlook lesser competition.
The Mavericks look to kick off a new winning streak Wednesday against the Nuggets.
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