The Mavericks were able to finish off the Portand Trail Blazers thanks to a strong final 2 minutes on Friday night. The 120-112 win pushed the Mavs record to 27-15 and put them just percentage points behind the Houston Rockets in the West standings.
Luka Doncic led with 35 points for Dallas and Damian Lillard wasn’t far behind with 34 for the Blazers. Below are some of the more interesting quotes from Rick Carlisle and Mavs players before and after the game on Friday night.
A guarded, tentative update on Kristaps Porzingis’ knee
Understandably, the first question asked of Rick Carlisle prior to Friday night’s game was about the recovery of Kristaps Porzingis after it was announced he would miss Friday night’s game, his tenth consecutive missed game, after a re-emergence of the soreness in his knee following pregame workouts in Sacramento on Wednesday. Of course, Carlisle gave a typical coach-speak answer to defend the details.
“I don’t have details on that… He’s made considerable improvement… He participated in a live practice… That’s where we are.”
Whenever a reporter followed up with what exactly that “considerable improvement” was, it seemed like Carlisle might have some information to divulge, but he was unsure if he was allowed to share it. It was strange.
“I’m not sure what details I can get into,” Carlisle said while squinting and touching his face. “In his workouts, he’s doing a lot of lifting, he’s been running, he’s been tolerating all of that stuff better and better as time goes on. The thing in Sacramento, we’re hoping was an unidentified glitch…We hope that things continue to trend positively.”
The more this secretive sore knee injury drags out, the more I’m started to think it might be caution-fueled from the Porzingis camp even more so than the Mavericks. I do not blame them for that approach, Carlisle’s body language and phrasing in that response just made me raise my eyebrows a bit.
Another big night of Tim Hardaway Jr. picking up the scoring slack
Tim Hardaway Jr. has had plenty of big scoring nights this season since his insertion into the starting lineup. He had another one on Friday night, scoring 29 points on 9-16 shooting, and the Mavericks needed every bit of it. Rick Carlisle had plenty of praise to heap on the guard after the game.
“Hardaway was great all night… The shot making was brilliant. When he’s out there in that mode, the energy that he brings to our team is infectious.”
Carlisle even went on to compare the move of Hardaway Jr. into the starting lineup to the move of J.J. Barea into the starting lineup in the middle of the 2011 NBA Finals over the steady and gritty Deshawn Stevenson. Seth Curry hadn’t earned a demotion or anything with his play, but Carlisle just felt it was best to make a move. Hardaway Jr. spoke after the game about some of the things that make it easy to succeed offensively in this Mavericks system.
“The ball movement, everybody is spaced out. You can attack on any given opportunity and coach wants you to be aggressive. So you put all those things together and you get the confidence from coach to go out there and execute, it makes your life a lot easier.”
The 27-year-old has continued to grow more comfortable by the game with the Mavericks and has really found a groove in January. Even before Friday’s game, he was shooting 47% overall from the field and 39% from deep on seven attempts per game this month.
Team fights their clutch time demons to get the W
The Mavs found themselves in another close game on Friday night but were finally able to get themselves over the hump after several heartbreakers recently.
“I thought the key to the game was that our defense got better as we went on,” Rick Carlisle said after the game. “We held them to under 25 in the fourth quarter, which we needed to do to be able to win.”
“We just executed down the stretch,” Tim Hardaway Jr. said after the game. “We’ve been in this same situation plenty of times and we let it get away from us — even against this same team. We just had to make sure we got stops and stayed together. Just try to push it back at them when we had the opportunity.”
The dagger came courtesy of who else… Luka Doncic.
LUKA SEALS THE WIN, HITTING THE STEPBACK DAGGER 🗡 😤 pic.twitter.com/c8YjG0VkCu
— ClutchPoints NBA (@ClutchPointsNBA) January 18, 2020
Doncic finished with 35 points on the night, but he had five huge points in the final 1:10 to help Dallas be able to comfortably hear the final buzzer go off.
The Mavericks will now be lucky enough to have three days off in Dallas before the return to the court to host the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.
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