Monday morning Mavs ... Dallas Mavericks 132, Portland Trailblazers 92 (game story here) ... and we've got Donuts that include a new trade rumor ...
DONUT 1: EIGHT IS ENOUGH Luka Doncic simply grabbed this game by the horns by making his first 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-Eight 3-pointers. By the time he missed, he throttled the Mavs to a 30-point lead in the third quarter.
Sunday in just three quarters of work, the 22-year-old MVP candidate scored 37 points and was 8-of-9 from beyond the 3-point arc. ... and did all his damage in just the first three quarters.
“It was special when you feel like this,” Doncic said of his hot hand.
His high-arcing bombs looked effortless, as if we were watching a programmed video game. Reminded me of another similarly surreal 3-point shooting performance against Portland. Guy goes by the name Michael Jordan. Ring any bells?
DONUT 2: BOUNCEBACK BOYS The Mavs this week rebounded from two tough losses with a couple of their best wins of the season. Losses to the Clippers and Blazers were followed by resilient blowouts (by 16 and 40 points) of the same opponent.
A good trait for team character. A great omen for a playoff series.
Of course, Dallas would like to make its roster better for the NBA Playoffs, right? That's why they are involved, in some degree, with trade-deadline talks (Thursday is that deadline) that touch on Andre Drummond, John Collins and now, reportedly, Dorian Finney-Smith.
And DFS? I can see why teams are asking about him. He is as close to a "stopper'' as exists on the Dallas roster (he won the Defensive Belt in Portland), he costs just $4 million per year, and he has taught himself to be a sound perimeter shooter.
Would hate to lose him. Would love for the Mavs roster to be good enough to climb out of eighth, up to sixth and out of the play-in thing ... and win in the postseason.
DONUT 3: COLOSSAL “COMEBACK” Not often you win a game by 40 that you trail after the first quarter. The Mavs were down 30-27 after 12 minutes, but forged a 65-54 lead by halftime. Then out of the break they blitzed the Blazers with a 19-0 run, highlighted by three Doncic 3-pointers. By the time C.J. McCollum made Portland’s first basket of the second half 5:37 into the third, the margin had ballooned to 30 points.
DONUT 4: UNIFORMITY? In the continuing saga of uniforms gone haywire, the Blazers wore their “city” duds which featured – for some reason – a foundation of brown accented with pink and orange. I give up trying to make any sense of any connection.
DONUT 5: LUKA LEGEND Doncic’s remarkable shooting night was one of the best in franchise history. Still the best to me? Dirk Nowitzki’s 48 points – 12 of 15 field goals and 24 of 24 free throws – in Game 1 of the 2011 Western Conference Finals.
And to think, some of us were worried when Luka started the season only 2 of 21 on 3-pointers. Silly us.
DONUT 6: SPRING SLUMP Jalen Brunson has hit a little lull. The backup point guard has failed to score 10+ points in five consecutive games, producing only eight, five, nine, four and four Sunday night on 2-of-7 shooting.
DONUT 7: ASSIST, BLAZERS While Doncic couldn’t miss, Portland’s top three shooters – Damian Lillard, McCollum and Carmelo Anthony – combined to go 0 of 16 on 3-pointers.
“Anytime me, CJ and (Anthony) go 0 for 16 from 3, we’re not going to have much of a chance,” Lillard said.
Thank you very much.
DONUT 8: MADNESS IN MARCH It was a hoops weekend in which Texas teams produced a mixed bag of results. Texas (with some now calling for coach Shaka Smith's job) and North Texas were bounced from the NCAA Tournament, while Abilene Christian, Houston and Baylor survived to continue dancing. While Oral Roberts got its “miracle” to advance to the Sweet 16, the Mavs only needed Luka to earn its split with the Blazers.
DONUT 9: NITPICKING Doncic shot better from the 3-point line (8 of 9) than the free-throw line (3 of 6). Granted, making eight triples will win you a lot of basketball games.
But missing three free throws might also lose you a couple.
Luka, to his credit, does have an idea how he can do more ...
DONUT 10: SCHEDULE SURGE The Mavs just finished survived a bumpy portion of their schedule by beating four teams ahead of them in the Western Conference standings: Spurs, Nuggets, Clippers and Blazers.
The reward? Seven consecutive games against teams – as of Monday morning – without a winning record, starting with a date with 10-32 Minnesota Wednesday night.
Mavs have the NBA’s easiest schedule down the stretch, starting … now. Time for a little Spring surge.
DONUT 11: SHORT AND SWEET Doncic did his damage in just 30 minutes, sitting out the entire fourth quarter of a welcomed blowout. The 37 points through three quarters tied the team record, not surprisingly held by Dirk. If this game was competitive, he could have hung 50 on the Blazers.
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD Luka reminded us yet again that he’s one of those precious, special players that can dominate a game via multiple personas.
Some nights he’s Moses Malone, bullying his way to 15+ rebounds. Others he’s John Stockton, setting up teammates for double-digit assists. And Sunday night inside Portland’s Moda Center, he flashed his Steph Curry by making eight consecutive triples en route to 37 points.
“Luka was just phenomenal,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “When he’s in that rhythm and is mixing in the drives and the threes, he’s virtually impossible to deal with.”
On a night when the Blazers were blah and bad, Doncic was at his superstar best.