In a span of six days, home has definitely been very sweet for Tim Hardaway Jr.
Back in the city where he graduated from Palmetto High School in 2010, Hardaway poured in a game-high 36 points Tuesday night as the Dallas Mavericks overcame another slow start before erupting to a convincing 127-113 victory over the Miami Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The win enabled the Mavs (37-28) to move into fifth place in the Western Conference going into Thursday’s home game against the Brooklyn Nets. It also was the 20th road victory of the season for the Mavs, tying them with Portland for the most wins away from home this season.
Hardaway was almost unstoppable as he was 13-of-24 from the field and a remarkable 10-of-18 from 3-point land. The 10 triples ties the franchise record for 3-pointers made in a game that was co-owned by George McCloud in 1995 and by Wesley Matthews in 2015.
It follows last Thursday’s career-high 42 points Hardaway scored against Detroit, where he played his college ball nearby at the University of Michigan.
“I just wanted to put on a show,” Hardaway said. “Put on a show for my love ones.”
During one span of three minutes and seven seconds, Hardaway popped in 13 of the Mavs’ 18 points – including three three-pointers – as the Mavs stretched a 73-67 lead to 91-72 with 2:57 remaining in the third quarter. And all of that theatrics came with Hardaway being able to look up in the rafters and see that the No. 10 jersey his dad – Tim Hardaway Sr. – wore as a member of the Heat from 1996-2001.
“I know it’s there forever,” Hardaway said. “Every time I go out on the floor, with that name up in the rafters you have nothing else to do except go out there and compete and play your tail off.
“Just having that honor and that privilege to play under that jersey up there in the rafters, it’s special.”
It also was a special night for Josh Richardson, who was a second-round draft pick by Miami in 2015 and played for the Heat through the 2018-19 season. Richardson was 6-of-11 from the field and finished with 17 points.
In addition, Luka Doncic was his usual dominating self as he terrorized the Heat defense for 23 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists without even playing in the fourth quarter. It was 11 points by Doncic that helped the Mavs stay within striking distance of the Heat, who jumped out to a 14-3 lead less than three minutes into the game.
And it was the energy rookie Josh Green and reserve center Dwight Powell provided in the first half that helped stall the Heat’s offensive attack. Green finished with four points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals, and Powell collected seven points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks.
“As great a night as Tim Hardaway had and as great a night as Luka had offensively, the guy that changed the game was Josh Green with his energy in the first half, particularly in the second quarter,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We got off to a terrible start.
“But the first two minutes you get down 12-2, there’s still 46 minutes left and that’s what we talked about, and we responded well. We were able to finally get some traction with some stops, and then better things started happening.”
Carlisle was so impressed with what Green and Powell gave the Mavs in the first half that he started them in the second half in place of Willie Cauley-Stein and Richardson.
“It’s been rare that I’ve started a different group to start the second half – I usually go back to the starters,’ Carlisle said. “But it was clear to me tonight that these guys needed to be out there.
“They earned it and they carried it forward, so it was great to see. They picked it up where they left off (in the first half) and did a lot of great things and we were able to finish the game down the stretch.”
Green, who played 24 minutes, was just delighted his number was called as the Mavs swept the season series with the Heat.
“I think it’s getting to that stretch of the season now where it’s just finding where I’m able to help the team,” he said. “For me it’s just doing whatever I can do for the team to win.”
Meanwhile, when Richardson got back on the floor in the second half, he shined at both ends of the court.
“By the way, Josh was tremendous in the second half off the bench, and that’s not easy to not start the second half,” Carlisle said. “He was into it defensively, he made shots, he made the right plays, he was tremendous.”
As was Hardaway, who tossed in 18 of his points in the third quarter as Dallas parlayed his hot hand into a 98-77 lead entering the fourth quarter.
“I do know it’s special when you go back home,” Carlisle said. “This is a special game for not only Tim, but for Josh Richardson.
“While Tim never played for the Heat, his dad did. He grew up as a big part of the Heat family/culture, and he does live here. He’s had a terrific year and I know that playing in Miami is something that’s important to him.”
Hardaway already had 30 points and eight 3-pointers by the end of the third quarter. He buried his franchise-tying 10th triple with 7:01 remaining in the game that increased the Mavs’ lead to 115-91, but said no one told him he was in position to outright own the team’s 3-point record.
“I promise you no one said anything,” Hardaway said. “When you have it hot like that and you have it going, you’re not really focused on any records or anything like that. The game was just naturally coming to me.
“If they would have told me that, then I probably would have just been hoisting up shots that were meaninglessly and not in the flow of the offense. So I’m happy they didn’t tell me.”
The Mavs won for the seventh time in their last nine games. And they also got solid contributions from Jalen Brunson with 19 points and Dorian Finney-Smith, who scored 12 points on his 28th birthday
The Mavs finished the game shooting 52.9 percent from the field and also converted 22-of-48 shots from behind the 3-point line. Now, the Mavs will take this huge victory into Thursday’s home game against the Brooklyn Nets.