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Mavs rookie shines bright despite loss

Mavs rookie shines bright despite loss

The Dallas Mavericks (24-57) wrapped their final road trip of the season with a 109-97 loss in Philadelphia.

Dennis Smith Jr. helped guide the Mavs through a rough start in which Dallas struggled to establish consistency on offense.

By halftime, the rookie standout amassed 10 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, a pair of steals and a block. Doug McDermott and Maxi Kleber combined for 16 first-half points off the bench to aid Smith Jr. and the Mavs in their efforts.

Mavs forward Harrison Barnes remained aggressive, finishing with a game-high 21 points, despite missing his first seven shots.

Smith Jr. was one of three Mavs to register a double-double despite the loss. In a battle of rookie point guards, Smith Jr. stuffed the stat sheet with 20 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and two blocks. Dwight Powell finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, one block and one steal. Maxi Kleber added 11 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.

By the third quarter Dallas trimmed what was once a 19-point deficit to four points with just over a minute until the final quarter.

However, a balanced attack from Philadelphia eventually proved too much for Dallas overcome. Eight players finished with eight points or more, including J.J. Redick’s team-high 18 points. Ben Simmons — another rookie standout — finished with 16 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds and four steals en route to guiding Philly to franchise record-tying 14th consecutive victory.

Head coach Rick Carlisle calmly praised both player and staff for Simmons’ ongoing development.

“[Ben] Simmons is [a] tremendous, young player,” Carlisle said. “He’s got a very unique skill set. [76ers head coach] Brett Brown has done an amazing job of putting [Simmons] in position to really take advantage of his strengths.

“He’s always causing problems. He’s a quick pressure on you downhill, ducking in your smaller players. His vision is great; he rebounds great. As he goes along his outside shooting will become better and better and then I don’t know how you’re going to play him at that point.”

Dallas hosts Phoenix at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday from American Airlines Center for the Mavs final contest of the regular season.

Podcast host and credentialed media member covering Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Wings | Roamed the rapidly growing area of Arlington Texas for the last 25 years. I graduated Texas Tech in 2014 with my Bachelor's degree in Media and Communications and currently obsess over basketball full-time. In my free time, I'm a substitute teacher and also an Uber driver. I've been following the Mavs since Jason, Jimmy and Jamal were young up-and-comers. If you need their last names, please don't ask me.

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