There is a saying in basketball along the lines of “when it rains it pours,” and for the Dallas Mavericks, that proved true in a thrashing of the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday night.
As a team, Dallas tallied 30 assists and made 16 three-pointers en route to a 127-106 win, ending a two-game losing skid and improving the team’s overall record to 24-21 on the year.
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) March 30, 2021
The first quarter displayed the pace and effort Dallas played with throughout the entirety of the game. The Mavs jumped out to a 33-24 lead, and star big man Kristaps Porzingis reached double-figures in scoring (12) by the end of the frame. A forgettable second quarter quickly turned into an aggressive third. And with seven minutes left in the fourth head coach, Rick Carlisle emptied his bench, signaling a Mavericks win.
“I thought we played to our level and our capabilities,” Carlisle said. “We were able to take care of business. Porzingis got the defensive belt for his work against Moses Brown … We got some good performances and a much-needed win.”
And “much-needed” from Carlisle is an understatement. Dallas sits in the packed bottom end of the Western Conference standings. As of Monday night, the Mavs sit in seventh in the west, separated from 10th place by just 2.5 games. Every game, for Dallas, is a must-win, even when the matchup is against the lowly Thunder. That is what made the previous two losses sting. Dallas is running out of time on the year to afford any more losses. with that being said, let’s get into what we saw from Monday night’s action.
1.) Dallas finally ended its 10 game streak of trailing after the first quarter. With the 33-24 lead at the end of the first, Dallas showcased that it is possible for them to get out to a fast start. Yes, it helped that the Mavericks played the Thunder, but it provided necessary reps for how the team wants to start games.
2.) 30 team assists gave a breath of fresh air for Carlisle, the team, and its fans. In recent games, the ball “stuck” offensively for Dallas. A bevy of offensive possessions came down to one, or two passes, before a shot. That wasn’t the case Monday as Porzingis tied a career-high in five assists, and the team had one of the better passing nights on the season.
“30 assists, that’s a damn good number,” Carlisle said. ”
3.) Nicolo Melli played his first minutes for the Mavericks, and he showed a great potential fit within the offensive scheme. In 11 minutes he shot 3-4 from the field and scored six points. He was also a plus 12 in his box-score plus-minus. And after the game, he could only sing praises of playing alongside Luka Doncic instead of against him.
“It feels great,” Melli said. “I felt good out there.”
4.) When both Luka Doncic and Porzingis play, Dallas is a special team. Tonight the two combined for 45 points and 12 assists. When these two play together, the sky is the limit. But it’s the act of getting them on the floor at the same time that seems difficult. Hopefully down the stretch, Dallas will find continuity with both of them.
A win over the Thunder isn’t something to write home about, but the large margin of victory got some end-of-bench players key minutes. And after the game, Carlisle spoke of the necessity of getting those guys minutes in order to help the team.
“It gets those guys experience which they need. It allows our higher minutes guys much-needed rest,” Carlisle said. “A lot of good things happened really because of the way we played in the third quarter and how we carried it into the fourth quarter.”
That same late-game execution has to be carried over into Wednesday’s game against the Boston Celtics. The last time these two teams met was when Doncic hit a game-winner. Now the hope is he won’t have to do it again. Only time will tell.
Feature image via Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports