The Dallas Mavericks took care of business against a Brooklyn Nets team missing Kevin Durant (hamstring) and Kyrie Irving (shoulder) in a 115-98 win on Saturday night. Kristaps Porzingis returned for his first game in two weeks, to score 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting which complemented Luka Doncic‘s 27 points on 11-of-21 shooting with seven assists and six rebounds.
The win put Dallas back at .500 a year after they finished 43-32 as the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference which bodes the question: Is this Mavericks team built to outlast its prior iteration which fell in six games to the Clippers?
Saturday’s routing was impressive despite two glaring Nets absences. James Harden was the Mavs lone All-Star opponent of the night, and after an impressive 25-point first half, Dallas held him to just four in the second. Brooklyn’s offense stalled completely to score just 34 second-half points in total. Everyone filled in their role as the Mavs came firing away on the other end. Dorian Finney-Smith camped the wing to score 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting, and five additional Mavs made at least one 3-pointer including Josh Richardson, Jalen Brunson, Maxi Kleber, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Trey Burke. Porzingis didn’t make a single outside shot but found success with low-post touches.
The Mavericks’ offense is currently built to last only if Luka Doncic is spectacular, and if his teammates are making the open shots he creates for them. Porzingis is the potential missing piece, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy for long enough to fully evaluate what wrinkles he adds to their gameplan. Saturday was a warm-up and while he didn’t dazzle, he did impress. Maybe this is just the beginning?
Hopefully, for Dallas, the All-Star break is the perfect rest period to get everyone healthy and back on track. The team stands 16-16 largely because of injuries and medical protocols, and it finds itself 1.5 games out of the No. 8 seed (which, of course, this season, would still qualify them for a play-in game.) Regardless, it isn’t where Dallas wants or needs to be, but every win before the break will be important to make sure this is a true year of growth for a team trying to find its footing as a title competitor.
Now let’s talk about all seven games from Saturday night.
Cavaliers 112, Sixers 109 OT
Joel Embiid — Despite the loss, the MVP candidate was the best player on the floor. He made 13-of-22 shots including two 3-pointers for 42 points with 13 rebounds, six assists, two blocks, one steal, and just three turnovers in 40 minutes.
Ben Simmons — Save for his seven turnovers, Simmons had a nice night which included him making a 3-point shot! He scored 24 points on 11-of-17 shooting with eight assists, seven rebounds, and one steal.
Collin Sexton — Sexton only made 11-of-27 shots, but he scored 28 points with five rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
Shake Milton — Milton only scored 11 points on 3-of-8 shooting, but he did a bit of everything else. He finished with six rebounds, two assists, one steal, two blocks, and just one turnover in 32 minutes.
Darius Garland — Garland shot very poorly, making just 9-of-24 looks, but he scored 25 points with nine assists, two rebounds, and two steals. He also had four turnovers in 42 minutes.
Jarrett Allen — Allen double-doubled with 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting with 10 rebounds, three assists, and one block. But most importantly, he’s now made a 3-point shot in his last three consecutive games. He has just 15 makes for his entire career!
Wizards 128, Timberwolves 112
Karl-Anthony Towns — As usual in Wolves losses, Towns was great while his team struggled. He scored 23 points on an OK 7-of-19 shooting with 11 rebounds, five assists, three blocks, and five turnovers in 32 minutes.
Bradley Beal — Beal led the Wizards for their seventh win in the last eight games with 34 points on 12-of-23 shooting (two made 3-pointers, 8-of-8 free-throw shooting). He also added eight rebounds, six assists, one steal, and just three turnovers in 30 minutes.
Davis Bertans — Bertans returned after missing one game with a sore right knee to score 19 points off the bench in just 20 minutes. He made 5-of-11 shots from range, and 6-of-13 overall.
Anthony Edwards — Edwards only made 9-of-22 shots, but three of them were 3-pointers for 21 points, six rebounds, one steal, and two blocks.
Jarred Vanderbilt — In the start, Vanderbilt double-doubled for 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting (3-of-5 free-throws) with two blocks, two assists, but three turnovers in 23 minutes.
Russell Westbrook — He only made 7-of-19 shots and 5-of-10 free-throws, but he triple-doubled with 19 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists, two steals, and five turnovers.
Spurs 117, Pelicans 114
Zion Williamson — It wasn’t enough, but Williamson scored 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting with 15 rebounds, five assists, one block, and four turnovers in 35 minutes.
Brandon Ingram — Ingram made 11-of-23 shots (two 3-pointers) for 29 points with five assists, four rebounds, and just one turnover in 36 minutes.
DeMar DeRozan — DeRozan scored 32 points on 11-of-18 shooting (10-of-12 from the free-throw line) with 11 assists, one rebound, two steals, and just one turnover in 38 minutes.
Dejounte Murray — Murray scored 18 points on 7-of-16 shooting in the win, including two made 3-pointers, seven assists, seven rebounds, three steals, and a block.
Eric Bledsoe — Bledsoe scored 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting (two made 3-pointers, 5-of-6 free-throws) with six rebounds, four assists, two steals, one block, and one turnover in 34 minutes.
LaMarcus Aldridge — Off the bench again, Aldridge scored 21 points on 5-of-10 shooting, making a 3-point shot and all 10 of his free-throw attempts with five rebounds, one block, and no turnovers in 23 minutes.
Josh Hart — With J.J. Redick sidelined to a sore hamstring, Hart looked primed for a big night. But in 31 minutes, he missed all eight shots he took and finished with two points, nine rebounds, one assist, and one steal.
Knicks 110, Pacers 107
T.J. McConnell — McConnell replaced the injured Malcolm Brogdon (knee soreness) in the starting lineup and played a full 46 minutes. He double-doubled with 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting, 12 assists, six rebounds, two steals, and just three turnovers. If Brogdon misses any more time, McConnell’s going to be a fantasy must-play.
Julius Randle — Randle led the Knicks with 28 points on 12-of-22 shooting (two made 3-pointers), 10 rebounds, six assists, four steals, and five turnovers in 42 minutes.
RJ Barrett — Barrett sunk four 3-pointers and 8-of-17 shots overall for 24 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and just two turnovers in 34 minutes.
Doug McDermott — McDermott had a nice night scoring 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting (two made 3-pointers) with five rebounds and no turnovers in 22 minutes.
Myles Turner — Turner only made 5-of-14 shots from the field (one 3-pointer) for 11 points and only grabbed four boards, but he did block four shots and had a steal, too.
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Jazz 124, Magic 109
Donovan Mitchell — Mitchell led Utah in the win, scoring 31 points on 10-of-19 shooting (five made 3-pointers, 6-of-8 from the free-throw line) with six assists, four rebounds, and just three turnovers in 35 minutes.
Rudy Gobert — Gobert made all six of his shots from the field for 12 points with 16 rebounds, three assists, one steal, and two blocks. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Nikola Vucevic — That’s All-Star Nikola Vucevic to you. He scored 34 points on 14-of-26 shooting (five made 3-pointers) with eight rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block, and just one turnover in 35 minutes.
Jordan Clarkson — Off the bench, the likely Sixth Man of the Year scored 18 points on 7-of-16 shooting (two made 3-pointers) with six rebounds, five assists, and two turnovers in 28 minutes.
Mo Bamba — Bamba only played 13 minutes off the bench, but he scored 11 points on three made 3-pointers on three tries. He also grabbed four boards and added a block and one turnover.
Nuggets 126, Thunder 96
Nikola Jokic — Jokic only played 30 minutes in the blowout win yet triple-doubled with 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting (one made 3-pointer) with 13 assists, 11 rebounds, two steals, and no turnovers. This man might be the MVP.
Jamal Murray — Murray scored 26 points on a great 9-of-15 shooting including four 3-point makes and 4-of-4 shooting from the free-throw line. He also added five assists, two rebounds, and just two turnovers in 31 minutes.
Michael Porter Jr. — MPJ’s slump seems to be over for good. He double-doubled with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting (five made 3-pointers) with 10 rebounds and just two turnovers.
Darius Bazley — The Thunder were rough to watch, but Bazley had a nice game, scoring 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting (three made 3-pointers) with four rebounds, one block, and no turnovers in 32 minutes.
Isaiah Roby — Off the bench, Roby was in triple-double range. He scored 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting (one made 3-pointer) with nine rebounds, seven assists, and two steals. He did turn the ball over six times in 28 minutes, though.
Luguentz Dort — Dort’s having a great season, but this was his worst showing by far. In 21 minutes, he made just 1-of-6 shots for two points, one rebound, and one block. That was it.
Mavericks 115, Nets 98
James Harden — Harden had 25 first-half points but cooled down to only score four in the second. His 29 points came on 9-of-21 shooting (four made 3-pointers, 7-of-8 from the free-throw line), with seven rebounds, six assists, one block, and six turnovers in 33 minutes without Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving.
Kristaps Porzingis — KP returned for 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting (4-of-5 free-throws) with four rebounds, two assists, one steal, three blocks, and two turnovers in 26 minutes.
Luka Doncic — A day before his 22nd birthday, Doncic scored 27 points on 11-of-21 shootIng (3-of-10 from 3-point range, 2-of-6 from the free-throw line) with seven assists, six rebounds, two steals, and just one turnover in 34 minutes.
Bruce Brown — Brown’s been tremendous in Brooklyn, and had a solid 12-point night on 5-of-9 makes with nine rebounds, three assists, and just one turnover in 32 minutes.
Dorian Finney-Smith — Finney-Smith scored 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting (two made 3-pointers) with eight rebounds, four assists, two steals, one block, and no turnovers in 35 minutes.