Here’s our five takeaways from the Mavericks’ 121-96 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night at American Airlines Center.
Home, sweet home? The Mavericks have been happier on the road this season than on the AAC floor. But that may be changing. Their success against the Grizzlies was their fourth consecutive win at home and they may finally be gaining some traction in front of the friendly crowds. This matches their longest home win streak of the season and they will go for No. 5 on Sunday against Indiana. “It’s something we have talked about and I think at this point, our guys understand that it’s really important,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “And so, our posture and those kind of things have been better. The crowds have been great. Give a lot of credit to the fans. And we’ve just been playing better.”
Help from all sides: The Mavericks have been fighting a war of attrition with multiple players fighting injuries and/or illnesses. That meant that guard Courtney Lee made his sixth start of the season and responded with 13 points, his season-best scoring total, along with five rebounds, two steals and two assists. He hit five of six shots and three of four from 3-point land. In addition, Justin Jackson played a season-high 32 minutes and had 10 points, four rebounds and four assists. “Some of it is metrics,” Carlisle said. “And some of it is gut-feel stuff, too. You get a guy like Jackson, who hasn’t played much, but gets in there and really seizes an opportunity and you look up and he’s played 31 minutes (and change). He was doing really good things on both sides of the ball. (And) Lee tonight was tremendous. He was really, really good. So look, we need everybody.” The Mavericks, by the way, were a massive plus-29 when Jackson was on the court and plus-25 when Lee was playing. Only Kristaps Porzingis had a bigger plus-minus (38).
Porzingis train chugs along: The way Kristaps Porzingis is playing, he’s going to make a serious case for he and Luka Doncic to be included with any duo in the league in terms of efficiency and difficulty to deal with defensively. Porzingis is averaging 32.7 points, 12 rebounds and 4.7 blocks in the last three games. The blocks and overall defensive influence he has are being overshadowed by his big offensive numbers. But Lee, who was with Porzingis in New York before the trade last season, has noticed the spike in the 7-3 Porzingis’ game. “When he was in New York, compared to this last month, I think his numbers are better here,” Lee said. “He’s finally found his confidence and finding his spot in the offense where he can pick and choose where to be aggressive.”
Scoreboard watching: It’s that time of year where every game is becoming magnified and that’s why the Mavericks now are paying a little closer attention to the schedule and the scoreboard. The three teams they are jumbled in the standings with – Utah, Houston and Oklahoma City – all won on Friday night, keeping pace with the Mavericks. It appears these teams are on pace to fight it out down the stretch. Utah is the only one of the four teams in action on Saturday, visiting Detroit.
Injury update: The Mavericks took Saturday as a rest day, but will learn more about the status of Seth Curry leading up to Sunday’s 6 p.m. game against Indiana. Curry twisted his ankle in the first half against the Grizzlies and did not return. The Mavericks don’t believe it’s serious. The Mavericks are hopeful that Dorian Finney-Smith (hip) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (illness) will return on Sunday.