After losing a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder where both Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis sat due to 'load management', the Dallas Mavericks bounced back in a big way by beating the Denver Nuggets on the road, 116-103.
Despite falling behind by 10 points early in the first quarter, the return of Doncic and Porzingis provided a major spark for Dallas after that, pushing the team back to three games over .500, which ties a season-best mark. Doncic finished the game with 21 points, 12 assists and five rebounds while shooting just 7-of-16 from the field. Porzingis led the Mavs by scoring 25 points to go with six rebounds and three blocks.
This marks the second straight really good game for Porzingis, who has started to look more like the player we all saw in the NBA Bubble last season. If Porzingis can bring that type of effort on a nightly basis, the Mavs are going to be extremely tough to beat the rest of this season if they remain relatively healthy.
“KP got the defensive (player of the game) belt tonight really because of three or four very timely plays,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “A couple of block shots, a couple of times he switched out onto (Jamal) Murray and (Michael) Porter (Jr.) and prevented those guys from getting threes in critical situations. And he was a presence at the rim all night. Not to mention the fact that he was terrific on offense.”
Josh Richardson, who led the Mavs with 27 points in Thursday's loss to the Thunder, saw his hot offense carry over in this game as well. Richardson pitched in 20 points to go with four rebounds, four assists and two steals. He shot 6-of-11 from the field and 4-of-5 from deep.
Richardson, who was forced to spend over a week in a Denver hotel due to the NBA’s Covid-19 protocols last time he was in town, is counting down the minutes until the team plane gets back to Dallas.
"Oh, man, I don't want to go back to that hotel,” said Richardson. “I'm just glad I get to leave it on time now.”
The Mavs will now return to Dallas to prepare for what could be the biggest week of their season when it comes to potential playoff positioning. Starting on Monday, Dallas will play the Los Angeles Clippers for two consecutive games, followed by two games against the Portland Trail Blazers that will carry into the weekend. The Mavs are currently 8th in the Western Conference standings, but they're only two games back of the 5th seed.
“I think we’re starting to figure out how to play for each other,” Richardson said. “We have so much talent on our roster. ... I’m proud of how (when down early) nobody was yelling, nobody was freaking out. We just sat down and came together ... We were professionals about it, so I’m proud of us.”