Tonight was just one of those games.
You know, one of those games where neither team could breakaway from the other and build a nice lead? One of those games where it got real physical and the refs played too big of a role? It was one of those grind it out victories where the losing team went home extra disheartened because both teams could have easily won that game.
Luckily for the Mavs, they played one hell of a fourth quarter to yank this game right from the hands of the Nets, 123-111.
The Maxi Kleber game
Tonight was Maxi’s night. With KP out of the lineup for the second straight game, one of, if not both, Dwight Powell or Maxi Kleber needed to step up. In tonight’s case, it was Kleber.
Kleber finished with a season-high 18 points, four rebounds, and three blocks as well as being a +17 in 30 minutes.
Kleber did it all. Dragging Jordan and Allen away from the basket helped open up driving lanes as Maxi hit 3/4 from deep.
With Porzingis out for the second straight game, Kleber stepped in and defended the rim well with three blocks and earned himself the second half start in place of Powell.
Kleber’s consistent play has certainly continued to turn him into one of the Mavs most important players.
He can flat out shoot that thing. But, we knows that. And he knows that.
But, tonight, Seth was extra aggressive, something Mavs fans have called for all season long. Seth scored 25 points on 5/5 shooting from deep.
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) January 3, 2020
“He was great. He was great,” Carlisle said of Seth. “The players did a great job of keeping him in rhythm and the key was to keep him rested so he could finish the game.”
He was hot all night, though near the end of the third, as the Nets began to build a small lead, Seth took the game over, hitting a handful of threes to end the third all tied at 93.
“Just play with the same aggressiveness. When the ball finds me, make plays,” Seth said if his role changes with Kristaps and THJ out.
If Seth can continue this type of production, even at a smaller clip, that’s huge for this Mavericks bench come playoff time.
Luka’s fourth quarter
Luka is as confident as they come but we already knew that. And though he looked a little sluggish in the first three quarters, he sure turned on in the fourth. Now, let me clarify, his “sluggish” is better than 90% of the league’s “best”.
Luka finished with 31 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists, including 15 fourth quarter points on a flurry of three pointers.
As the shots started falling in the fourth, the smack talk came out, as Luka began chirping at whichever Net was guarding him, letting them know that they couldn’t dare attempt to stop him.
What helped assist Luka’s huge fourth quarter was a rotation change by Coach Carlisle. Luka typically plays the entire first and third quarter but he used more of Dirk’s old rotation pattern tonight citing, “he’s been playing too many long stretches which has compromised him late in games. In the big picture, we need him fresh to close.”
These type of runs that Luka goes on to finish games only makes me imagine these type of moments in big playoff games. Soon come.
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