DALLAS - The Dallas Mavericks beat the Brooklyn Nets, 113-109, at home in a star-studded matchup with star-studded observers in the crowd. Dallas is now 10 games over .500 for the first time this season with only six games left in the regular season.
The excitement was palpable in the American Airlines center. Right before tip off, Mavs owner Mark Cuban jogged over to give legendary NBA star Dirk Nowitzki and President George W. Bush (sitting court side) a fist bump.
The Mavs grabbed a 37-32 first-quarter lead, displaying one of their most explosive starts, Dallas going 4-of-4 from beyond the arc. Luka Doncic and Tim Hardaway Jr. each accounted for two three-pointers. Hardaway picked up right where he left off in his record-breaking game in Miami, leading the Mavs with 10 first quarter points and finishing with 23 points.
The game featured some magical Doncic moments, in which it almost seemed he was showing off for Nowitzki and President Bush. Doncic was close to becoming the fourth-youngest player to reach 5,000 points for his career.
He did, however, reach another impressive milestone... 200 career steals.
Doncic led the Mavs with 24 points, including five three-pointers. While Kevin Durant (often guarded here by"Defensive Belt'' winner Dorian Finney-Smith) and Kyrie Irving combined for 65 of Brooklyn's points... Irving totaled 45 points. The Nets were without James Harden.
There was a scary moment in the third quarter when Hardaway Jr. hit the floor, grabbing his lower left leg. He looked to be in pain when his ankle turned, but stayed in the game.
Neither team could extend their lead beyond seven points. With the game coming down to the wire, the Mavs led 104-99 with 3:36 left. Dwight Powell, rookie Josh Green and Jalen Brunson played impact minutes late in the fourth quarter, providing a needed offensive boost to Dallas. Although Doncic's scoring went nearly silent, netting only two field goals in the second half, a few of his assists were jaw-dropping, totaling eight for the game.
The Mavs held onto the win, upsetting the 2-seeded Nets in the Eastern Conference.
Maxi Kleber (right Achilles soreness) and Kristaps Porzingis (right knee soreness) missed the game against Brooklyn.
“Time is of the essence. We can’t rush Mother Nature, ever. That’s a given. But we're looking to get him back when he’s ready to be back,” said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle on if Dallas will hold out Porzingis until the playoffs.
Next up, the Mavs play the second night of a back-to-back, hosting the Cleveland Cavaliers at 7:30 p.m. CT Friday. Dallas, currently in fifth place in the Western Conference, needs to keep winning to stay out of the NBA Playoff play-in tournament.
"Everybody knows what time it is" It's that postseason energy, that postseason atmosphere and that postseason grit that you have to be willing to have,'' Hardaway said.