The Dallas Mavericks got back to their winning ways on Friday night, securing their second consecutive victory in a 122-117 win over the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center.
The Mavs, who were up big for most of the game, were able to hold off a late push from the Spurs after they cut the Dallas deficit to just three points with less than a minute to go.
"We easily could have folded and let the them come back and take a win at home,” said Jalen Brunson. “I think if this was the (Mavs’) team last year, that maybe would have happened, but we’re growing.
“I see that one way that we’re growing and becoming better is by making key plays at the end of the game in order to win games.”
Of course, it was once again superstar Luka Doncic who led the way for the Mavs and finished the game with 36 points, 11 assists, and nine rebounds, just one board shy of yet another triple-double. It was the third time this season that Doncic came up just one rebound or one assist shy of a triple-double.
Not only were the stats impressive, but Doncic showed why he is the MVP favorite down the stretch by scoring a clutch turnaround shot off the backboard over LaMarcus Aldridge and then weaving through the lane and dishing the ball to a wide-open Brunson for a corner three that essentially put this one away.
Brunson finished with 16 points in this game and hit 3-of-5 from the three-point line. Since coming back from his NBA Covid protocol hiatus, Brunson has been a key reason the still-shorthanded Mavs have gotten back to their winning ways.
Tim Hardaway Jr. was the next man up for Dallas offensively, ending the game with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting, in 38 minutes.
Kristaps Porzingis, who continues to improve each and every night since his return from injury, also had a solid outing, scoring 21 points of his own, to go along with eight rebounds and two blocks.
As a team, the Mavericks shot 48.4 percent from the floor, and 35.9 percent from three, and were out-rebounded 49-42 by San Antonio. Meanwhile, the win means a "Heavyweight Champ'' award on defense, which here goes to Wes Iwundu.
Said Luka: “The biggest thing is we’re making better decisions ... We kept together, we kept defending and we just needed to win that game and show what a team we are.”
Following the win the Mavs (8-7) will have a short turnaround, as they come home to face the new-look Houston Rockets at the American Airlines center on Saturday night.
It will be the second matchup of the season between the two teams, with the Mavs winning 113-100 in Houston on January 4, when James Harden was still with the team.
The Rockets, however, no longer have Harden and have dropped five of their last seven games without him. Rockets' big man Christian Wood might also not be available. All in all, it seems there's a chance Dallas could continue to apply its "clutch learning'' on the second night of a back-to-back.
“We’ve gotten a year older and a year wiser,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We spent more time working on crunch time situations, talking about it, understanding that if that’s a big part of where we want to go as a team we need to execute and keep our poise.
“But the biggest thing was we really just kept our cool.''
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