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Smith Jr. and Nowitzki’s performances headline Mavs win over Knicks

Smith Jr. and Nowitzki’s performances headline Mavs win over Knicks

After the Mavericks fell to the contending Toronto Raptors at home on Sunday night, their win-loss record fell to 22-27.  While the loss was disappointing and hurt them in the standings, there was a golden opportunity up next for Rick Carlisle and the Mavericks: a three game road-trip against three Eastern Conference teams that are under .500 on the season.

The first game on the trip for Dallas was a stop at the Big Apple to take on the New York Knicks at the legendary Madison Square Garden.  In what was rookie Luka Doncic’s first trip and potentially Dirk Nowitzki’s last game at the historic venue, the Mavericks had an exciting opportunity to get things back on track on a big stage.  After securing the second career triple-double for DSJ and a season-high 14 points from Dirk, the Mavs were able to put their best foot forward to start this trip with a 114-90 win over the lowly Knicks.

DSJ notches second career triple-double
In just his fourth game back from his highly-covered six game absence, the second year guard was able to put together one of his best games of the season.  Smith scored 13 points on 5-12 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds in addition to his career high 15 assists.

DSJ seemed to get a little help on his tenth rebound with Rick Carlisle putting him in for the final few minutes of a blowout and then his teammates were definitely help him be in the best spot for his final board or two.  However he needed to get it, it still counts.

Smith Jr. was very effective with his drives tonight and made several pretty finishes in the paint. His ability to get to the rim has never been an issue in his first season and a half in Dallas, but his effectiveness when he gets there has been iffy due to a lack of body control and foul calls.  While he continues to work through his jump shooting (0-3 from deep tonight), his ability to finish a rim will be absolutely vital if he hopes to keep his scoring numbers up.

Dirk puts on a show in his potential Garden finale

It’s been well chronicled how effective Dirk Nowitzki has been at Madison Square Garden over the years.  Whether it be averaging close to 25 points per game there for his career or his memorable buzzer-beater over Carmelo Anthony there back in 2014, it has definitely been one of Dirk’s favorite places to play away from the American Airlines Center.

While Dirk has struggled for most of his first seven or so weeks this season, tonight stood out as a sign that his jumper could come back at any moment and have a big impact on a game.  For a few isolated moments, Nowitzki looked like his old self by draining fadeaway jumpers on the baseline and calling for a postup over a smaller defender.  His 14 points in 12 minutes resembles an old first half of his than anything great, it’s the version of Dirk we have to appreciate in his 21st season and it’s still pretty awesome when he gets it done.

The win improves the Mavericks to 23-27 on the season and gets them just one win away from matching their total from all of last season.  Dallas won’t have to wait long to try to get win number 24 as they quickly head to the frigid city of Detroit for a matchup with the Pistons tomorrow night at Little Caesars Arena.  Dallas has been very poor in the second game of back-to-backs so far this season, just one victory coming last week over the Los Angeles Clippers, Rick Carlisle was able to keep all of his starters under 30 minutes tonight so they could conceivably have more in the tank in Detroit.

Tip-off is set for just after 6 PM from Detroit on Wednesday night.

Editor-in-Chief for Dallas Fanatic| Born and raised in Dallas, I received my Bachelor's Degree from the University of North Texas in 2014 after majoring in Radio/TV/Film. I'm a lover of all sports and support every DFW team. For random sports and other thoughts, find me on Twitter: @DylanDuell

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