After missing Thursday’s overtime win against the Denver Nuggets with an illness, Dallas Mavericks guard Trey Burke wanted to be sure he could make some immediate contributions once he was back on the court Saturday against the Orlando Magic.
Consider Burke’s plan a successful one.
Burke was absolutely on fire against the Magic as he finished with 29 points in just 21 minutes. He also was a very efficient 11-of-13 from the field, including 7-of-8 from behind the 3-point line.
“As far as my contributions, I just let the game come to me,” Burke said after Saturday’s 112-98 victory. “Obviously I’ve been out for 48 hours and you know in this league being out one day you can feel that in your wind out there.”
Apparently, wind was no huge issue with Burke as he poured in 16 points in the first half and kept pouring it on in the second half.
“The ball found me right when I got in and it was a wide-open shot,” Burke said. “So I kind of just locked in and focused on my breathing and hit the shot and I think once I hit that first one I kind of just relaxed.”
Burke is one the key reserve players for the Mavs. His role became even more critical when Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith and Jalen Brunson were forced to miss Saturday’s game due to health and safety protocols.
“He’s a weapon,” coach Rick Carlisle said of Burke. “He’s a shot maker.”
Burke played so well inside the bubble in Orlando last summer that the Mavs rewarded him with a three-year contract. His production also played a role in the Mavs trading Seth Curry to the Philadelphia 76ers for Richardson.
“You don’t lose a guy like Seth Curry in a trade,” Carlisle said. “Being able to pick up a guy like Trey Burke is really important.”
Even after his hot start, Burke felt it was important to continue outing pressure on the Magic in the second half.
“I had a really good first half, but once the second half started that first half is gone,” he said. “The first unit, who we are usually leaning on to bring the intensity and bring that energy to make that push, they were struggling a little bit at the time.
“Orlando had made their push and we came in and I think we picked the intensity up on defense and I tried to pick up full court. I think it’s little things like that which your teammates see that they try to feed off that, and we fed off of it (Saturday). We started stringing stops together and things started going our way.”
Iwundu a factor: During Saturday’s 112-98 triumph over the Orlando Magic, Wes Iwundu probably had one of the most productive games this season by a player who didn’t score a point.
The four-year veteran from Kansas State came off the bench and played 32 minutes, grabbed six rebounds, picked up a pair of steals and handed out one assist. He also played rock steady on the defensive end of the floor.
“Wes Iwundu did a tremendous job off the bench,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I don’t know if he scored a basket, but he’s plus 17 and he chased (Terrence) Ross around, who really was a deadly weapon for them off the bench.
“He deserves a lot of credit for this win.”
The only other players with a higher plus/minus than Iwundu in Saturday’s game were Trey Burke (plus 25) and James Johnson (plus 19).
Defense is very effective: The Mavs are 5-4 on the season, and in three of those five wins they held their opponent under 100 points.
In the other two wins, the Houston Rockets took advantage of some unfortunate technical fouls by the Mavs to score 100 points during a 13-point Mavs victory last Monday. And this past Thursday the Mavs defeated the Denver Nuggets in overtime, 124-117.
The sticky defense has led to three straight wins for the Mavs entering Monday’s home game against the New Orleans Pelicans.
“We’re defending better,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “Look, we’ve got New Orleans coming in here Monday. They just had three rough games.
“We’re going to get their best shot and we’re going to have to be ready and everybody’s going to have to do their job the same way they did it (Saturday).”