CLEVELAND – Point guard Kemba Walker described it as a pride thing.
This past Wednesday, the Cleveland Cavaliers went to Dallas and defeated the Mavs, 105-90. So with the rematch Saturday in Cleveland, the advantage went to the Cavs. Particularly since the Mavs were playing without starters Luka Doncic (right quad strain). Spencer Dinwiddie (right knee, injury recovery) and Dwight Powell (left thigh contusion).
The Mavs also were without two of their main reserves — Josh Green (right elbow sprain) and Maxi Kleber (right hamstring tear). However, with that backdrop, the Mavs fought the Cavs down to the very last second before losing, 100-99, in overtime.
“Pride,” Walker said, explaining how the Mavs hung tough on the road with one of the NBA’s better teams. “Just pride. We wanted to come out and do what we can to try and win.
“We executed our game plan pretty well. We just came up short.”
Coach Jason Kidd took it a step farther, saying: “I think it’s just the character of all the guys that participated (Saturday). The guys played hard. There was no excuse. We put ourselves in a position to win a game against a very good team on the road.
“We had our chances. We just can’t get the ball to go in the basket for us right now coming down the stretch. But the guys played well. If we can play that hard, we’ll put ourselves in a position to win a lot of games.”
Here are the three takeaways from the one-point loss to the Cavs.
WALKER WAS BALLING OUT: It’s a good chance Mavs’ fans are going to fall in love with Kemba Walker. The veteran point guard showed Saturday why he is a four-time All-Star. The moment was never too big for Walker as he kept making big shot after big shot before he finished with a game-high 32 points, five rebounds and seven assists in 42 grueling minutes. Walker scored the Mavs’ first nine points of the game and never looked back.
BACK-TO-BACK SOLID GAMES FROM WOOD: One night after Christian Wood scored a season-high 32 points and grabbed a season-high tying 12 rebounds during that 20-point win over Portland, he followed that up with 26 points and a season-high 14 rebounds against the Cavs in 43 minutes. After making 11-of-17 shots against Portland, Wood was 9-of-18 from the field against Cleveland as he continues to be an important part of the Mavs’ offensive machine.
DEFENSE ON MITCHELL: Donovan Mitchell came into Saturday’s game in a groove. Just this past Wednesday in Dallas, he torched the Mavs for 27 first-half points en route to a 34-point night. And on Friday, Mitchell fired in 18 of his game-high 41 points in the fourth quarter during a win over the Indiana Pacers, who scored 18 points in the fourth quarter. But in Saturday’s rematch with the Mavs, Mitchell was held to only 25 points on 9-of-21 shooting, including just 1-of-9 from downtown.
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