LOS ANGELES – It’s no secret that the Dallas Mavericks desperately needed a win to stop their three-game losing streak.

Enter Luka Doncic.

After missing the previous three games due to sprains in his left knee and left ankle, Doncic returned Tuesday and delivered a masterpiece. Admittedly tired after playing 41 grueling minutes in his first game in over a week, Doncic was the catalyst the Mavs used to emerge from STAPLES Center with an impressive 112-104 victory in overtime over the Clippers.

As forward Kristaps Porzingis so aptly put it, a lot of the intangibles works so smoothly for the Mavs on the offensive end of the court because of all the attention defenses have to give Doncic.

“Honestly, it’s just easy opportunities because of Luka,” Porzingis said. “When Luka’s out there, he makes the game so much easier for everybody else.”

And because of Doncic’s return to the lineup, the Mavs will wake up on Thanksgiving with a 10-7 record and owners of the Western Conference’s No. 4 seed.

Here are our five takeaways from the victory over the Clippers.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A LUKA MAKES: If case you didn’t know, now you know how valuable Luka Doncic is to the Mavs. When Doncic is on the court, it’s like the Red Sea parts. Suddenly, teammates who are usually defended very closely find themselves with a bunch of wide-open looks. That’s because Doncic attracts more attention than flies at a barbeque cookout. And he also has the skill-set to beat double-teams. The Mavs went 0-3 when Doncic missed three games with sprains in his left ankle and left knee. He returned Tuesday and collected 26 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and two blocked shots in 41 minutes. Enough said.

PORZINGIS TOOK OVER: All those critics who questioned Kristaps Porzingis, how you like him now? When the Clippers managed to use an 11-1 run down the stretch to get this game to overtime, it was Porzingis who personally made sure the Mavs were going to get out of town with a win. In the overtime session, Porzingis scored six of the Mavs’ nine points, and also grabbed a pair of critical offensive rebounds that kept possessions alive and kept the ball out of the hands of the Clippers. In all, Porzingis scored a team-high 30 points, snatched seven rebounds and was a giant-sized headache for the Clippers. The big fella was 9-of-16 from the field as he continues to look so comfortable, as he said, playing for Jason Kidd.

LOCK-DOWN DEFENSE: For years, the Mavs talked about how they were going to step up their game and pay more attention to the defensive side of the court. It looks like this year that talk has been more than just lip service. Case in point, when Tuesday’s game reached the overtime session, the Mavs rolled up their sleeves and denied the Clippers time and time again. The Clippers had a total of 10 possessions during the five-minute overtime period, and they all ended in disaster. In overtime, the Clippers were 0-of-8 from the field and turned the ball over two times. Overall, the Clippers made just 41.2 percent of their field goals and 31.3 percent of their three-point attempts. Case close.

FINNEY-SMITH THE WARRIOR: On a night when the Mavs snapped their three-game losing streak, forward Dorian Finney-Smith was a warrior. The undrafted six-year veteran played a massive 49 out of a possible 53 minutes and spent most of the night shadowing Paul George. Although George buried the dramatic three-point bucket at the regulation buzzer that sent the game into overtime, once the game reached overtime he was 0-of-3 from the floor and scored the only point the Clippers put on the board. George finished the night with 26 points, but he took 23 shots and missed 16 of them thanks to the heady defense by Finney-Smith. And, oh yeah, Finney-Smith scored 17 points on 7-of-14 shots.

GROWING AS A TEAM: After the way this game got away from them in the waning moments of regulation, no one would have blamed the Mavs if they would have folded the tent in overtime, packed their bags and flew back home to celebrate Thanksgiving. The Mavs led the Clippers, 102-92, with 3:27 remaining in regulation. But the Clippers outscored the Mavs, 11-1, down the stretch, and had the crowd all worked up when Paul George’s three-pointer at the buzzer shifted this game into overtime. But from there, Kristaps Porzingis said the Mavs didn’t blink because: “We’re growing as a team mentally and we kind of knew that, ‘OK, if it’s five more minutes, then we’ll go out there and prove that we’re the superior team.’ “

Twitter: @DwainPrice

Share and comment

More Mavs News