As the regular season comes to an end, the Mavs welcomed the Portland Trail Blazers to the AAC tonight as they looked to solidify themselves as the 3rd seed in the West.
Though they find themselves in the lottery, Dallas competes every night like they’re playing for a playoff spot and tonight was no different as they fought off the Blazers with a 115-109 victory despite a late push from All-Star Damian Lillard.
Dennis Smith Jr. almost notched his second career triple-double with 18 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists, including an impressive transition dunk where he bounced the ball to himself.
“We did a real good job defensively tonight against those guards,” Smith Jr. explained about the defense on Lillard and CJ McCollum. “I don’t think they shot a high percentage tonight. I think that won us the game.” Despite Lillard’s 29 points, he and McCollum shot a combined 2-15 from three-point range.
Snapping a three-game losing streak, the Mavericks bench did a lot of the work to keep score in their favor. Strong minutes from Aaron Harrison, Maxi Kleber, Salah Mejri, and Yogi throughout the game, especially in the fourth quarter, were essential to the victory.
“You don’t wanna talk about that dunk?”, Carlisle joked about DSJ’s fast-break slam to open his post-game press conference. “No, no. I’ve never seen that.”
Though the bench played most of the fourth quarter, Dennis reentered the game with a few minutes remaining to clinch the game. “He’s not gonna play tomorrow night. His knee has been a little bit sore so I wanted to get him as many minutes as possible,” Carlisle stated about Smith Jr. sitting out tomorrow’s matchup in Orlando.
As for tomorrow, the Mavs will face-off with fellow lottery team, the Orlando Magic. This will be the first of a three-game road trip, the last road trip of the season before ending the season at home against the Phoenix Suns.
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