It came down to the final five minutes, but Tim Hardaway Jr. clearly didn’t care.

On a night where the Dallas Mavericks boasted a skeleton roster in the Motor City, Hardaway Jr’s 42 points led the way in a 115-105 victory over the Detroit Pistons Thursday night.

A young feisty Pistons team made life difficult for Dallas all night. Between Frank Jackson, Isaiah Stewart, and Saddiq Bey Detroit scored 58 points. Dallas couldn’t buy a stop for a majority of the fourth quarter, but that didn’t matter as Hardaway Jr. scored from every angle possible throughout the frame.

Outside of Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke scored 15 points, and Jalen Brunson added in 13. On a night with a limited Kristaps Porzingis (knee soreness) and an unavailable Luka Doncic ( rest), Dallas won. And with the Portland Trail Blazers less than three games back from the Mavericicks’ six seed standings, every win matters.

Key observations:

1.) Hardaway Jr.’s father being in town might have helped in his offensive performance.

The 42 points mark a career-high for Hardaway Jr. It’s only fitting that it happened in front of his family. His father played a huge role in his basketball life. And it’s monumental that he played the best game of his career in front of those he cares about the most. You couldn’t write a better script than this.

2.) Porzingis’ night was disappointing at best. All season we have seen Doncic without Porzingis. What we haven’t seen a lot of was Porzingis without Doncic. Tonight was an opportunity for the 7-footer to showcase how good he is without Doncic. That wasn’t the case. After 21 minutes of game action, he left the game with knee soreness. He scored 11 points and grabbed one rebound. It wasn’t memorable at all.

At some point, durability is a skill. And it clearly isn’t a skill Porzingis possess. His inability to stay on the floor mitigates the immense talent he possesses. Seeing him put together a long stretch where he isn’t held out of back-to-backs or out due to some injury is needed before anyone can truly assess how good he and Doncic together can be.

3.) Trey Burke’s ability to stay ready is breathtaking. After being out of the rotation for 14 days, he has put together an impressive three games averaging 13.6 points per game. He’s a crafty shot-maker who has a knack for cultivating instant offense. Burke proved himself in the bubble last season. Now, he is doubling down on those efforts. Every time Rick Carlisle has called on him to produce, he answers.

Looking ahead:

Thursday’s win moves Dallas to 35-27 – staving off Portland, for now. And as the calendar flips to May on the Mavericks season, they look to take on the streaking Washington Wizards who feature a two-headed monster in Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook. In the last 10 games, Washington is 9-1. And with every game counting towards their play-in status, the Wizards are sure to take Dallas to the distance.

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Feature image via Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports.
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