Thursday’s result: Dallas Mavericks 115, Los Angeles Lakers 110 ... and we've got Mavs Donuts
DONUT 1: DORIAN DOES IT, AGAIN Luka Doncic, of course, dominated the ball and did Dallas’ heavy lifting with 30 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in the win at the AAC.
But it was Dorian Finney-Smith who hit the night’s biggest shot.
His corner 3-pointer salvaged a disjointed possession and pushed the lead to 113-106 with 2:02 remaining.
Once reluctant to take – and rare to make – 3-pointers, since the birth of his child one month ago Finney-Smith is shooting 44 percent from beyond the arc.
Oh, and he can still some good things inside, too.
DONUT 2: KP KO’D For the second time this week, Kristaps Porzingis awkwardly rolled his ankle without any contact. He sort of stepped on his own foot Sunday against Sacramento, and Thursday night landed wonky on his left ankle and left the game in the third quarter.
"Uncertain as to severity,'' said coach Rick Carlisle. "With ankles a lot of it is about how a player feels the next morning. He was in pretty good spirits after the game and he is walking. He's not in a boot at this point."
Let’s face it: Porzingis, who was playing the second game of a back-to-back for only the fourth time this season, is becoming the Mavs’ version of Sean Lee. Productive and at times elite when healthy, but … He’s questionable for Saturday’s rematch.
DONUT 3: NO BANG FOR BUCK The hype surrounding this one was the return of Lakers’ star Anthony Davis. But he only played 17 first-half minutes, missing eight of his 10 shots. Yawn.
DONUT 4: TNT TONGUE TWISTER National play-by-play man Kevin Harlan called him “Donchich”, while analyst Reggie Miller ping-ponged between “Donchick” and “Donkich”.
Can’t we just make it easy and force them to go with “Luke-uh”?
DONUT 5: BIGGER RETURN While Davis’ cameo had minimal effect on the outcome, the Mavs are elated to see their big man contributing again.
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Willie Cauley-Stein was sidelined in health and safety protocols March 18-April 10. Against the Lakers he was back to being his athletic, energetic, disruptive, productive self, scoring 11 points, grabbing eight rebounds and blocking two shots in 31 important minutes.
To me, a healthy (and focused) Cauley-Stein dramatically alters the Mavs’ playoff DNA.
DONUT 6: STARTING STRONG Mavs led, 31-26, after the first 12 minutes. They are now 20-0 when leading after the first quarter. Seems like a simple strategy, right? Of course, they’re also 28-5 when leading after three quarters. So maybe just “lead” is the way to go.
DONUT 7: NO THANKS I know I’m supposed to like the Lakers’ Alex Caruso. For his effort and unselfishness and maxing out his potential and local ties and … nope, can’t do it. Not sure if it’s the high socks or too-thick headband or his passive-aggressive body language or the fact that he’s delusional enough to think he’s big enough and good enough to check Luka one-on-one, but something – everything – about Caruso bugs me.
Let’s call him my least favorite player in the NBA.
DONUT 8: MADDENINGLY MAGNIFICENT True to an identity which has them playing at the level of their competition, the Mavs are now 21-14 against teams with winning records and 11-12 vs. losers.
Getting up for the Lakers is fine and well, but you have to supplement it with similarly focused effort against the Kings (twice) and Pistons in the next 10 days.
Said Luka to TNT’s post-game gang, “You have to play hard every game. We have to take every game seriously. Sometimes we just relax too much.”
DONUT 9: DELICIOUS RECIPE Mavs attempted a season-low 24 3-pointers and shot 36 free throws (second-most this year). That’s a winning formula going forward.
DONUT 10: REVERSE KAELIDASCOPE The Lakers wore their traditional home gold uniforms while the Mavs wore their traditional road blues. The game was played in Dallas. I give up.
DONUT 11: PLAYOFF PROMISE Obviously the Mavs have to get – and keep – Porzingis healthy or they’re going nowhere fast. But promising signs abound elsewhere with Cauley-Stein and also J.J. Redick.
With Porzingis limping to the locker room and Luka on the bench, Redick kept the Mavs afloat with a dazzling three-possession stretch late in the third quarter. He made a no-look assist on a Cauley-Stein dunk, nailed a wing 3-pointer and then scored on a nifty lefty layup.
Just a glimpse of what he can, and will, do in the playoffs.
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD Yes, Davis was “back” for the Lakers. But this was a game the Mavs had to – and did – win. With 14 games remaining they are tied with the Blazers at 32-26 and can now get a healthy whiff of finishing in 6th place to avoid the problematic play-in puzzle.