The Mavericks desperately needed a win to start out their four game homestand after disappointing loss to the Knicks on Thursday. They put their best foot forward on Saturday night by using a strong fourth quarter to defeat a depleted-but-still-rolling Toronto Raptors squad, 110-102.
While the team still struggled to hit shots from beyond the arc (23% on 9-39 shooting), Dallas was able to find ways to put the ball in the basket with 50 points in the paint. Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic shot a combined 2-12 from deep but were a much better 10-22 on two point shots. With his second consecutive 20 point scoring performance, KP felt good about his role in the team’s offense on Saturday night.
“It felt more natural today, not as forced,” Porzingis said after the game. “I was just trying to be in the flow of the offense. It (The team’s offense) was more fluid today.”
On the other end, the team defense was very admirable overall and Maxi Kleber deserves a ton of praise for his efforts defending Raptors star Pascal Siakam, holding the wing to a paltry 6-24 shooting performance with plenty of those shots heavily defended at the rim.
“That was mostly his responsibility,” Rick Carlisle said of Kleber’s efforts on Siakam. “Maxi’s versatility on defense is a big, big factor for us.” In the fourth quarter, the Mavs were able to hold Siakam to just four missed shots and three costly turnovers.
Luka Doncic set a new career high with 19 free throw attempts. While he did miss four of them, the fifteen points at the free throw line were definitely key to boosting his scoring total to 26 points on a night where he shot just 5-14 from the field.
Delon Wright made an impact in his first game against the team that drafted him back in 2016. “It certainly didn’t get the buildup that the New York game got,” Rick Carlisle said after the game. Wright understood why when he said, “Well I’m not Kristaps” with a smile when the media brought his coach’s comment to his attention after the game. Wright’s line of 15 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals in just 19 minutes is definitely one to be proud of as the guard looks to carve out a consistent level of playing time in Rick Carlisle’s system.
With the win, the Mavericks improved to just 3-3 at home so far this season. They will have a chance to better that mark with this being the first game of a four game home stand against three teams that aren’t playing their best basketball at the moment. It doesn’t seem ridiculous at all to say that Toronto is the best team of Dallas’ four opponents this week at home as up next are the Spurs (5-8, losers of five straight games), the injury depleted Warriors (2-11, losers of six straight) and the Cavaliers (4-7 with one of those losses coming against Dallas just two weeks ago). After two disappointing losses to the Knicks, the Mavericks need to take advantage of facing these struggling teams at home this week if they want to continue to establish themselves in the early season Western Conference playoff picture.
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