Dear Mavs Diary: legend has it Jalen Brunson is still on fire, even after the game.

The Villanova product proved instrumental in the Dallas Mavericks’ 118-117 comeback win against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.

Dallas staged the comeback by limiting quality offensive possession for the Hawks. In the second half, Trae Young couldn’t find a rhythm as Dallas threw routine double-teams at him, forcing the ball out of his hands.

On the opposite end, Brunson scored 11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter. He created shots off the dribble, got to the rim at will, and mitigated any run Atlanta tried to make. He was a matchup nightmare for the Hawks. And without his offensive production, Dallas wouldn’t be riding high on its third-straight win.

Just look at this shot fake into a reverse layup. Brunson was sensational.

The game by the numbers:

The battle between Luka Doncic and Young is always the main draw when these two teams meet.

On the game, Doncic tallied another triple-double with 28 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. He shot 9-18 from the field and 2-7 from three.

In Young’s case, he scored 25 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and tallied 15 assists.

For both stars, scoring the ball in the second half slowed down in comparison to the first-half output. However, both remained active in setting their teammates up for open shots while also keeping the ball moving.

In both player’s cases, there has been growth in on-court maturity. Doncic is making it a point to complain to the refs less and lead by example more. Meanwhile, Young has dialed back his long-range shots that came early in the shot clock. He is allowing the offense to come to him, picking his spots and not forcing the action. For both teams to find sustainable success, they need more of the good found in each player. Both Young and Doncic possess generational talent, but it’s going to be the one who learns to lead better than the other who will find more success.

The unusual:

Dallas big man Kristaps Porzingis played just six minutes total in the second half of Wednesday’s contest.

After a great game against the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves, Porzingis struggled again both offensively and defensively against Atlanta. In the first half, he shot 4-11 from the field and struggled to take advantage of mismatches in the post. Yet, this isn’t out of the ordinary for the big man during this season. He’s struggled with consistency, and on Wednesday it looked as though he was played off the floor.

In Porzingis’ 19 minutes, he was a -10 while on the floor. The Hawks hunted him in pick-and-roll matchups wanting to get him switched on to their perimeter-oriented shot creators. He also struggled to defend Hawks forward John Collins, who finished the game with 33 points on 13-18 shooting from the floor.

The struggles with Porzingis are concerning. Every time it looks as though a step forward is taken, a few steps back occur. The question going forward should be when will Mavs fans see some consistency from him?

Looking ahead:

Dallas gutted this win out. At times it wasn’t pretty, but it was just enough to get by. In the words of Al Davis,” just win baby!” And that is what Dallas has done in this three-game stretch. The hope for the Mavs now is that with each win, the team climbs up the Western Conference standings and into a secure playoff spot. And next up for Dallas is another home game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday. Hopefully, the team carries the same mentality it had tonight – just win.

https://atozsportsdallas.com/dallas-mavericks-journal-another-mavs-instant-classic-win-over-atlanta/
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