DALLAS - The Dallas Mavericks received a career-high 42 points from Tim Hardaway Jr. to lead them to a 115-105 win over the Detroit Pistons.
With Luka Doncic and Dorian Finney-Smith sidelined, the Dallas Mavericks needed players to step up against the Detroit Pistons. To make matters worse, Kristaps Porzingis was ruled out after 21 minutes of action due to knee soreness.
In any game that Doncic doesn't play, the Mavericks are expected to have to scrap to get a win. That was certainly the case in this one as there were 18 lead changes and 17 times tied.
Aside from a sluggish start for the Mavericks and their strong effort to pull away late, neither team held a substantial edge throughout this game. The only double-figure lead occurred when Josh Richardson converted on a pair of free throw attempts with 8.6 seconds remaining in the game.
The Mavericks needed someone to shoulder the role of closer for the night with Doncic sidelined. Hardaway Jr. certainly answered the call for the short-handed Mavericks. With his father in attendance, he made sure to put on a show and certainly did not disappoint.
"We really just rode him to the win. It was a very difficult game," Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said. "Detroit's a hard-playing team. They kept getting to the rim."
Perhaps most impressive of all was that Hardaway Jr. scored 17 straight points for the Mavericks in the fourth quarter. He raised his game when Dallas needed it most and help the team to break a tie and pull away from the Pistons in the clutch.
It was a timely performance from Hardaway Jr. when considering most of the Mavericks' guards struggled to execute. Richardson, Jalen Brunson, and JJ Redick combined for just 26 points while going 9-of-34 (26.5%) from the field and 4-of-12 (33.3%) from deep.
Trey Burke provided a needed lift off-the-bench for the Mavericks as well. He chipped in 15 points and was the team's second leading scorer - continuing his recent impressive play.
The focus for the Mavericks now shifts to the health of Porzingis. It was a boost to get him back in the lineup for this game but having him go down again this close to the playoffs is far from a favorable situation. It's too early to have much information about his injury status but more should be known in the coming days.
“I don’t know really anything else, but he seemed to be walking fine afterwards and was in good spirits,” Carlisle said. “We’ll see how he’s feeling in the next day or so.”
The expectation is that Dallas will at least get Doncic and Finney-Smith back into the lineup this weekend. Facing a tanking team without its best players was just too good of a resting opportunity for the Mavericks to pass up.
Next up for the Mavericks is a home matchup with the Washington Wizards on Saturday. This will mark the first game of a back-to-back series.