The Fast Break: Mavs vs. Hawks

Final: Mavs 111, Hawks 113

Box Score | Highlights

Behind the Box Score

Tonight was the first game of Dirk Nowitzki’s 20th season, and the German became just the second player ever to play as many seasons for just one team, joined only by Kobe Bryant. The legend has etched his name in the history books once again, this time joining probably the single-most exclusive club in pro sports.

Dennis Smith Jr. became the youngest player in franchise history to start a game (Dirk was the previous youngest) and the second-youngest to ever appear in a game for the Mavericks. It’s important to remember throughout this season that he’s only 19 years old. There will be ups and there will be downs, but it’s already clear that there’s plenty to be excited about.

Notebook

  • Dennis Smith Jr. put on an absolute show in his NBA debut, finishing with 16 points and 10 assists. He became the youngest player ever to record a points-assists double-double in his career debut. (Scroll down for some highlights.) From the alley-oop on the opening play to scoring and fancy handles, he played a solid all-around game and flashed much of what he’s capable of at this level. He’s got almost unheard-of explosiveness for a point guard, and when combined with his speed, shooting, and playmaking ability, he’s got a pretty rare skill set that’s already pretty developed for a player his age. This season is going to be a process, but he started it off on the right foot.

  • One thing that’s really stood out about Smith’s floor game to this point is his patience and composure in traffic. During one sequence in the first half, he took on three defenders without panicking and ended up finding a wide-open Dirk for 3.

    This play more than any other demonstrates his ability to lead an offense. It’s not always about doing cool, flashy stuff. Sometimes it’s just about the simple matter of accepting defensive pressure and finding the open man. Smith probably isn’t going to see this kind of aggressive coverage all too often because he’s not the kind of player who’s going to crumble under all of this attention. Plus, he’s playing with guys who can knock down open shots. But seeing him able to do it is encouraging.

  • It wasn’t all pretty, however. At one point in the second quarter Smith rose for what would have been an incredible dunk but he was drilled pretty hard in mid-air by fellow rookie John Collins.

    Smith very briefly left the floor with a trainer before returning to the bench just a few seconds afterward.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (0-1) will play the Sacramento Kings (0-0) on Friday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.