Sometimes you just have to lean on your best player to win a game.
Sometimes your best player is 19 years old and named Luka Doncic.
Here are the three biggest takeaways from Wednesday night’s Mavs 104-94 win over the Phoenix Suns.
The re-emergence of Maxi Kleber
Mavs Twitter has been begging for Rick Carlisle to give more minutes to Maxi Kleber. With both Dennis Smith Jr. and Dirk Nowitzki missing tonight’s game, the opportunity was there for the second year big man. Carlisle inserted him into the starting lineup and definitely gave him some minutes. Kleber finished with 34 minutes on the night, only trailing Luka Doncic and Harrison Barnes in that category, and responded with 13 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Even though he played just five minutes in Monday night’s loss to the Lakers, Kleber knows to always be ready when playing for Rick Carlisle.
“When you play you want to be out there to help your team, but some nights you get more minutes and some nights you get less,” Kleber said postgame. “I just have to be ready all the time. I can’t think about it.”
Winning the third quarter
The Mavericks looked just as flat as they did on Monday throughout the first half of tonight’s game. They ended up trailing 50-46 at halftime and there wasn’t much for the AAC to cheer for besides some Luka Doncic highlights.
They started out the third quarter by being outscored 5-2 to fall behind 55-48 before something must have just clicked. Dallas would go on a 16-2 run over the course of about four minutes in the third quarter. This push gave the Mavs a 32-19 scoring edge in the third and a lead that they wouldn’t give up the rest of the game.
Luka Doncic scored 8 of his 30 points and Wesley Matthews scored 9 of his 14 points in the third quarter.
Another great Luka performance
The Mavericks would not have won this game without Luka Doncic’s level of play in the first half. While the rest of the team seemed to play with little energy, Doncic scored 16 points in the first half and Dallas needed each and every one of those points to hang with the scrappy Suns.
While his teammates undoubtedly picked up their play in the second half, it was still Doncic who shined brightest on the night with another 30 point performance.
Luka even left 6 points at the free throw line by shooting just 10/16 at the charity stripe. He was feeling it from deep shooting 4/9 from three (including a ludicrous heave at the end of the game in response to the Suns shooting and scoring when the Mavs had tried to dribble out the clock) and 8/14 overall.
There were a couple step-back threes, but this exclamation point late in the 4th was the best one as it got him to the 30 point mark.
The capital of Texas has officially changed to the exact spot where Luka made this step-back 3. Sorry, Austin. pic.twitter.com/spBWctzJbC
— Jason Gallagher (@jga41agher) January 10, 2019
With the win, the Mavs improve to 19-22 on the season. They’re now on pace to finish with 38 wins this season; 14 more than their 24 win 2017-2018 season.
Dallas travels up north to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves on Friday before heading back home to host the defending champion Golden State Warriors on Sunday.
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