Eighty-two.

That is how many points Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis produced for Dallas in a 143-130 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

The young stars on the floor in Friday’s game gave NBA fans a real show. Zion Williamson tallied a smooth 36 points on 14-15 from the field. Brandon Ingram pitched in 30 points – 14 of which came in the first quarter. And Dallas’s two-headed offensive monster ripped the hearts out of Pelicans fans everywhere.

“Luka was phenomenal. (Porzingis) was phenomenal,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said after the game. “Williamson was ridiculous. I mean, unbelievable, what he can do on the basketball floor. The ESPN crowd got a real treat tonight in terms of entertainment. But it was a pillow fight on defense.”

The game by the numbers:

The three-point bugaboo that has haunted Dallas all season, finally went running for the hills on Friday night.

As a team, the Mavs made 25 threes on 45 attempts – good enough for 55 percent from behind the arc. The 25 made three-point attempts marked a team record for the Mavs. And now Dallas fans can rest easy knowing that the outside jump shot is finally coming around.

Part of the three-point explosion is thanks to Porzingis who hit a career-high eight three-pointers in the game. After logging reduced minutes against the Atlanta Hawks, he came to prove a point offensively. The seven-footer put up 11 shots in the first quarter – nine of them being threes. He made four of his three-point attempts, shooting over various defenders and taking advantage of Steven Adams in key matchups.

“Tonight was one of those games where things were just clicking for both of us,” Porzingis said. “He was finding me open on the 3-point line. It gives both of us energy and just builds the momentum for both of us and the team.

Doncic was no slouch in the three-point assault either. 15 of his career-high 46 points came from behind the arc, going 5-8 in the game. He looked like the MVP everyone billed him as to start the season. Coming into the game, he exuded confidence. And at the opening tip, Doncic was primed for a big night. His efficiency changes this team. When he makes shots from the perimeter, it opens everything up for Dallas offensively.

Defensive questions:

The Mavericks’ defense continues to be a primary concern. Though Porzingis played sensational on offense, he routinely failed to protect the rim from various slashers looking to score. Carlisle went to Willie Cauley-Stein for 13 minutes during the game, and the results with him weren’t much different.

Williamson got to the rim at will. And once there, he hardly ever ran into a secondary defender to deter him from a layup/dunk attempt. He wasn’t the only Pelican to find success offensively. As a team, New Orleans shot 53 percent from the field and 45 percent from three. And on a night where the opposing team’s best players don’t combine for 82 points, the Pelicans probably win.

To succeed, Dallas has to want to defend at a high level. The Mavs can’t routinely give up an efficient 130 points and expect to simply outscore opponents. Tonight was an aberration, not the norm. Bad defensive habits in the regular season lead to early playoff exits. Dallas has to confront its defensive issue in order to truly vault itself into Western Conference contention.

Looking ahead:

Friday’s win was fun. The way Doncic and Porzingis dominated the game, reminded everyone watching of just how good Dallas is offensively when both of its star players are engaged.

It’s an impossible task to ask both stars to play like they did Friday, every game. However, Dallas will need the same level of effort offensively, if it hopes to contend nightly. The result probably won’t be a championship this season, but with two guys as good as Prozingis and Doncic, Dallas is a threat on any given night.

Feature image via Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

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