One of these days, they’ll find a way to win a game on the road.
It has now been a month since the Mavericks beat the Rockets in Houston, 128-108, for their most recent victory on the road this season. It feels likes a lifetime ago. Dirk Nowitzki still hadn’t made his season debut. Having not bought any Christmas gifts yet was still socially acceptable. “Bird Box” memes were still weeks away.
You get it. It has been a long time since the Mavs have won away from the American Airlines Center. That will not change until at least Monday night when they travel to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder since Dallas dropped a game it most definitely should have won in New Orleans on Friday night, 114-112. The following are the three biggest stories from the game:
Career night for Luka but completely unmotivated or uninvolved on the last play of the game.
The rook was otherworldly in the Big Easy on Friday night. Doncic had a new career high in points with 34 on 10-16 shooting overall. An incredibly efficient night from the field. The most encouraging sign? His three point shot was back. A 7-10 from deep shooting performance was outstanding but it is an outlier in a month of December where he is only shooting 30% from beyond the arc.
Doncic called his own number for a couple huge plays down the stretch. He drilled a stepback three over Jrue Holiday late and nailed a game-tying floater over a momentarily hobbled Anthony Davis. Unfortunately, Rick Carlisle did not call effectively Doncic’s number when the Mavericks needed a basket the most.
Considering his clutch prowess, I’d like Luka Doncic to be a bit more involved in this play than stuck at halfcourt. Curious to hear Rick Carlisle’s explanation. pic.twitter.com/ucyJbYWPm9
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 29, 2018
MacMahon would later tweet that Rick Carlisle simply stated it was his responsibility that the play “was unsuccessful.” I guess we can take that to mean that Luka was intended to be involved in the play somehow. Perhaps Dennis getting the ball in that spot and driving would have taken Holiday off of Luka and freed him up to create a shot off a pass from Dennis Smith Jr. However, there were four seconds left and simply not enough time for shenanigans like what Carlisle drew up.
Do whatever it takes to get the ball into your best player and use your seven foot center to set a screen to open up a quality shot.
Dennis Smith Jr. not getting a shot off before time expired was not excusable, but THAT play coming out of a timeout with the game on the line was simply unacceptable from a coach of Carlisle’s caliber.
Dennis Smith Jr. impresses in return from wrist injury
Coming into Friday night’s game, the second year guard had missed 1o of the last 11 games due to a lingering wrist issue. Smith Jr. not getting a shot off on the final possession of the game might leave a negative taste in fans’ mouths after this game, but he had a very good game overall with 14 points, 4 assists and 2 steals in 30 minutes.
He shot an efficient 5-9 from the field and found multiple ways to contribute without shooting the ball, including a continuance of his newfound love for defense.
— MavsHighlights (@MavsHighlights) December 29, 2018
Of course, DSJ also mixed in some of what he’s best known for: dunks that make you get off your couch when you’re watching the game alone in your living room.
Wanted: Dennis Smith Jr.
Crime: 1st degree murder
Victim: Julius Randle pic.twitter.com/83Cm8Vq7nD
— Isaac Gutierrez (@ByIsaacG) December 29, 2018
Dennis Smith Jr. doesn’t have to be an MVP candidate to be valuable to this team moving forward. He can do a lot to help them now and at just 21, still has a lot of time to develop into more.
Anthony Davis is not a bad NBA player
“Thank goodness that’s over.” – Every Mavs big man who has tried to defend Anthony Davis over the last two games.
The MVP candidate certainly boosted his resume on Friday night with a season high 48 points and added 17 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Whether it was DeAndre Jordan, Maxi Kleber or especially Dwight Powell, the Mavs simply had no match for Davis tonight or Wednesday in Dallas.
The Mavericks shouldn’t feel too bad. Davis has had a career year so far by averaging 28 points and 13 rebounds a night. Even with the win tonight, the Pelicans are just 16-20 and hanging on tightly to playoff hopes. It’s hard to even imagine how terrible they would be without the heroics of Davis night in and night out.
Dirk Nowitzki had a season high 11 points on Friday night while shooting 4-7 from the field in 11 minutes… The dynamic duo of J.J. Barea and Devin Harris that combined for 32 points on Wednesday night combined for just 6 on Friday with Barea accounting for all of those… Rookie Jalen Brunson was a DNP-CD for the second consecutive game. The guard is averaging 25 minutes and 10 points per game in December… Thankfully, the Mavericks will have close to three months to gameplan for the next time they see Anthony Davis. Dallas won’t play New Orleans until a March 10th tilt at the AAC… The Mavs return home for their final 2018 home game Sunday against the OKC Thunder. Tip-off is at 6 PM.
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