The Dallas Mavericks, coming off a win against the Detroit Pistons, played a thriller at American Airlines Center against the red-hot Washington Wizards on Saturday night. After trailing by eight points in the fourth quarter, the Mavs stormed back to win the game, 125-124, thanks to the clutch play of Luka Doncic and Dorian Finney-Smith.
Down by two points with 34.9 seconds left, Doncic nailed a smooth mid-range jumper to tie the game at 122-all. After a couple of Bradley Beal free throws to put the Wizards back on top by two, Finney-Smith responded with a cold-blooded three-pointer from the corner to give the Mavs the lead for good with 9.3 seconds remaining. Finney-Smith finished with 22 points, five rebounds and shot 8-of-12 from the field and 6-of-9 from deep.
Coming off of four days of rest, Doncic had an all-time performance in this one, scoring 31 points on 12-of-23 shooting to go with 20 assists and 12 rebounds. According to Mavs PR, Doncic recorded just the fourth game in NBA history with 30-plus points, 20-plus assists and 10-plus rebounds. Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson and Doncic's opponent tonight, Russell Westbrook, are the other three players to have such a stat-line in a game.
Doncic continues to do extraordinary things in just three NBA seasons, but we're not surprised by any of this anymore, we just simply appreciate the greatness that we're fortunate enough to witness immediately following the legendary Dirk Nowitzki era.
Both Wizards stars, Westbrook and Bradley Beal, had some impressive performances of their own tonight as well. Westbrook put up a season-high-tying 42 points on 17-of-30 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and nine assists. Beal finished with 29 points, four rebounds and three assists. Coming into tonight's game, the Wizards were one of the league's hottest teams, having won 10 of their last 11 games. After the Mavs led by 18 points early in the second quarter, the two Washington stars willed their team back before ultimately falling at the final buzzer.
Doncic and Finney-Smith were deservingly the players of the game, but the game took a turn in the Mavs' favor tonight when Rick Carlisle opted to start Trey Burke in the fourth quarter instead of Josh Richardson, who had struggled mightily all game long. Playing the entire fourth, Burke provided a big spark, scoring seven points on 3-of-4 shooting. Burke has looked a lot like the guy who caught fire in the NBA Bubble last season, and it couldn't be happening at a better time for the Mavs.
With the win, the Mavs pulled into a tie with the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference standings. Since Dallas owns the tiebreaker with Los Angeles, the Mavs are now currently No. 5 in the West and control their own destiny with just nine games remaining in the regular season.
The Mavs won't have long to feel good about this win, though, as they turn around and play the Sacramento Kings tomorrow night on the second night of a back-to-back. Dallas will try to avoid being swept by Sacramento in the season series. The Kings will be without star point guard De'Aaron Fox, but he was also out in the Mavs' last loss to Sacramento. With just one game separating the Mavs from seeds five-through-seven in the standings, every game remaining is a big one.
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