Wednesday’s result: Dallas Mavericks 115, San Antonio Spurs 104 ... and we've got Mavs Donuts ...
DONUT 1: UNHAPPY ANNIVERSARY A year ago (March 11, 2020) the Mavs beat the Denver Nuggets at American Airlines Center and then … the lights went out.
Late in that game, the NBA announced it was suspending play because of COVID-19. A year later, the Mavs are playing in a state whose governor just reopened all businesses and events sans masks. Go figure.
DONUT 2: DAK THEN DONCIC While the Dallas Cowboys rewarded Dak Prescott with a four-year, $160 million contract this week, it’s getting that time – yes, already – for the Mavs to do the same with Luka Doncic.
After the season, the 22-year-old will be eligible for a five-year, $195 million max-extension, provided he makes All-NBA First-, Second- or Third-team or wins MVP.
In other words, pay him.
DONUT 3: DYNAMIC DUO Critics keep crowing that the Mavs need “one more star” to be a legit contender. But when Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis combine for 50 points, 26 rebounds and 13 assists, those critics should sit this one out.
Same with the idea of dumping KP. Do NBA execs think Dallas wants to do that? Maybe. But the timing of thinking that, this morning? Not good timing.
“Porzingis was great,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “My feeling is that he’s trending up all the time.''
DONUT 4: LOSING LAMARCUS Long gone are the days when Dirk battled Duncan for trips to the NBA Finals. But Wednesday night it wasn’t even Luka vs. Lamarcus because, well, the Spurs abruptly announced before tip-off that the perennial All-Star will be traded before the March 25 deadline. (Or dumped after.)
The move made the game easier for Dallas, and also cleared its path to the playoffs going forward.
Oh, it also makes our Step Back guys work late into the night figuring out ways to steal talent from the Spurs.
DONUT 5: RADICAL REBOUNDING Can probably count on one hand the games in which the Mavs have out-rebounded their opponent by 21, but Wednesday night added to the bizarre stat.
Led by Porzingis (14) and Doncic (12), Dallas out-rebounded San Antonio by a whopping 51-30. Enough to frazzle Gregg Popovich’s hair even more, if that’s possible.
DONUT 6: PORZINGIS IN THE PAINT On the Mavs’ first possession, Porzingis actually looked – and played – like a man who stands 7-foot-3. On a play that certainly looked designed, Josh Richardson dumped the ball in the lane to Porzingis, who split and dwarfed two Spurs for an easy layup and a 2-0 lead.
Makes you wonder why we don’t see more of that. Actually, we did. Porzingis followed his early hoop with a driving layup and then another point-blank shot in the lane. It’s as good of a game as Porzingis has played this season.
Said Carlisle: “He’s really adapting well to teams putting smaller guys on him. ... We’re seeing a lot of different situations. Smaller guys, liberal switching, trying to bait him into situations that aren’t great for the team. ... He was just tremendous.''
DONUT 7: DENYING DEROZAN When star DeMar DeRozan scores 24+ points he Spurs are 8-0 against the rest of the NBA but 0-2 against the Mavs. Don’t ask me to explain that one.
DONUT 8: COACHING CONSISTENCY The game featured two of the three longest-tenured head coaches in Popovich and Rick Carlisle. Popovich has led the Spurs for an almost unfathomable 25 seasons while Carlisle has been on Dallas’ bench since 2008. Only Erik Spoelstra, who took over the Miami Heat one month before Carlisle was hired, belongs in that rare company of longevity.
DONUT 9: TRIPLE (YAWN) DOUBLE Some of us are old enough to remember when Jason Kidd’s triple-doubles were front-page headlines. Of course, some of us also remember front pages. Despite his slow start, Luka recorded his eighth stat-stuffer of the season and 33rd of his career with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 12assists.
It’s become ho-hum.
DONUT 10: SLOW START All-Star hangover? Nah. But Luka did have his lowest-scoring first half of the season with only six points. So what did he do out of the locker room? A couple of aggressive drives and a step-back 3-pointer to fuel a 17-4 Mavs’ run.
DONUT 11: PRESSURE PUSH This was a typically tight Mavs-Spurs game, with neither team leading by more than seven midway through the fourth quarter. But the Mavs’ defense clamped down, holding the Spurs without a basket for almost nine minutes. At the other end, Porzingis hit a straightaway 3-pointer, a foul-line jumper and converted an effort three-point play in which he beat three Spurs to a rebound and an ensuing layup to push Dallas’ lead to 10.
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD The Mavs’ second half begins like their first half ended, with a victory. With the gritty win, they tied the Spurs in the standings for 7th in the West, secured the season tiebreaker against San Antonio and moved to three games over .500 (19-16) for the first time this season.
Having won 10 of 12 heading to Oklahoma City Thursday night, Dallas is clearly playing its best basketball of the season.
“Our goal is to take the momentum that we built up before the break and carry it into the second half,'' Carlisle said. "It won’t be easy. There’s going to be a high density of games ... Everybody really is competing hard this year in the league, so we’re going to have our hands full, but we’re really looking forward to the opportunity.”