As Kobe Bryant Honored, Mavs Take Down Streaking Thunder With 107-97 Win
DALLAS - After an emotional weekend across the NBA landscape, the Dallas Mavericks hit the court against a red-hot Oklahoma City Thunder team for the first end of a back-to-back.
Thanks to the efforts of Luka Doncic, who was visibly affected before the game, and the Mavs supporting cast, the Mavs were able to take care of business on Monday night, ending the Thunder’s win streak with a 107-97 win at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Doncic did what he could memorialize the victims of the tragic helicopter accident in Calabasas that killed nine people, including former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, in his own way, writing the names of all nine victims on Bryant's own signature sneaker.
““It was very emotional,” Luka. “I broke down after the first quarter. That’s when it really hit me. It was really hard to play tonight.''
With Bryant on his, as well as everyone else’s minds - the game started with the two teams taking eight-second and then 24-second clock violations, observing Bryant's two jersey numbers - Doncic helped lead the way for Dallas in a Mamba-like fashion, scoring 29 points 10-of-24 shooting, and grabbing 11 rebounds to go along with five assists.
Also key in the Mavs win was guard Delon Wright, who scored 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in 27 minutes and hit 6-of-10 shots from the floor, including two of four from behind the arc. Wright also had a handful of timely tip-ins throughout the night that kept the Thunder at bay.
“He was great tonight,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He really impacts the game defensively and with the pace that he brings to the game. The rebounding is a very underrated part of his game. And I love the way he’s putting pressure on the rim (with the offensive rebounds).
“It was great to see and in games like this where there’s a lot of speed, he thrives. He’s gotten better and better as the season’s gone along. He’s a great kid. He’s proud to be a Maverick, so it’s all great to see.”
That "he's proud to be a Maverick'' mention could very well be a nod to the fact that Delon's brother, former NBA Dorrell Wright, recently posted (and then scrubbed) some social-media posts questioning Delon's lack of minutes. That's a no-no in MavsLand.
Kristaps Porzingis also finished with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Tim Hardaway Jr. hit 6-of-12 from the floor en route to 15 points of his own. Willie Cauley-Stein, the recent trade pickup, did not play. The guy he replaces on the roster, by the way, Dwight Powell, underwent surgery on his ruptured Achilles and now faces what could be a 10-month timetable to return.
Chris Paul did not play, so Dennis Schroder led the way for the Thunder, scoring 21 points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists in a hearty 41 minutes of action.
The Mavs (29-17) won't have long to enjoy this one, however, as they will turn around and head back to Dallas for the second half of their back-to-back on Tuesday night against the Phoenix Suns (19-27).
The Mavs got the better of the Suns in their previous meeting in a 120-113 win in Phoenix on November 29 and now look for another bounce-back - a doable thing for a Dallas team that is an impressive 14-3 in games following a loss.
“We pride ourselves on that,” Wright said.