For Dallas Mavericks fans, NBA Opening Night couldn’t have been much more fun, at least in theory, than having your team play against the Atlanta Hawks, given the Luka Doncic vs. Trae Young debates that have swirled since that fateful NBA Draft night in 2018.
On Thursday, though, it was Young's Hawks who came out on top over Doncic's Mavericks in the latest installment of the forged rivalry, as Atlanta out-gunned Dallas, 113-87.
“It was a terrible game,” Doncic said. “We couldn’t make nothing. But 81 to go.”
Doncic finished the game with 18 points on 6-of-17 shooting to go with 11 rebounds and seven assists. Off the bench, Jalen Brunson was the Mavs second-leading scorer with 17 points to go with three rebounds and three assists.
Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. were the only other Mavericks to score double-digits.
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After crushing the New Orleans Pelicans on the road on Wednesday, the Dallas Mavericks look for a similar outcome in the friendly confines of American Airlines Center in Dallas on Friday night.
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New head coach Jason Kidd and the rest of the gang fell flat, to put it kindly, starting their 2021-22 by shooting just 33 percent from the field.
And the defense that Kidd vowed would be much-improved from what it has been the last couple of years? Aside from the first couple of minutes of the game where the Mavs jumped out to a 10-2 lead, that new defensive identity will have to wait for another day.
The good news for Dallas? It's only one game of 82. But that's about the only good news that came from this night.
The Mavs will now quickly shift focus to the second game of the season, as they fly to Toronto to take on the Raptors and Doncic’s good buddy Goran Dragic.
Maybe Dallas GM Nico Harrison and his Raptors counterpart Masai Ujiri can do some business together while the Mavs are in town.