The Mavericks have a four-game winning streak after Saturday’s 114-113 thriller over the Sacramento Kings.
That matches their second-longest win string of the season and gives them 10 wins in their last 12 games.
This team is rolling. And their latest success came without Luka Dončić, who missed his first game in two months because of a sore toe.
Presumably, the superstar point guard will be back for Monday’s critical meeting with Utah at American Airlines Center.
But these Mavericks are working on some serious mojo right now. No reason to think they can’t keep it going under any circumstances.
Here’s a look back at the scintillating win over Sacramento with or second-chance points.
DOE-DOE FOR THE WIN: No, not just because Dorian Finney-Smith made the game-clinching 3-pointer with scant seconds left on the clock. He drained a shot from one of his favorite spots on the floor, which was impressive and put the Mavericks up 114-111 before a meaningless follow-up tipin by the Kings at the Buzzer. But what was more impressive from Finney-Smith was the way he defended Sacramento center Domantas Sabonis in the fourth quarter. The 6-11 Sabonis took just two shots in the period, missed them both, had a turnover and also missed both his free throws in going scoreless over nine minutes of playing time. Considering he’d made seven of eight shots through three quarters, Finney-Smith’s shutdown defense was huge.
HEALTH CONCERNS: The Mavericks have been getting along without some key personnel, but as the price of poker goes up against some higher-quality competition, they will need their big guns back soon. Presumably, Dončić will be back against Utah on Monday. But they could also use the services of Maxi Kleber, who has started 20 of the 45 games he’s played this season and qualifies as their best interior defender with Kristaps Porzingis no longer with them. They also could use the services of Marquese Chriss, who would help their depth at center.
DIDDIE-WAH-DIDDIE: With apologies to Leon Redbone fans, his song from the ‘70s seems appropriate after Spencer Dinwiddie dropped 36 points on the Kings. He got the start in place of Luka and turned in a superstar performance, hitting half of his 22 shots and getting to the free-throw line 13 times, making 12. In five games since the All-Star break, the 6-5 guard has averaged 22.2 points, 6 assists and shot 57 percent from the field (46 percent from 3-point land). He certainly appears to be rejuvenated after getting out of Washington.
KINGS AREN’T BAD: The big trades Sacramento made before the deadline have changed their look, but they have a handful of high-quality players in Sabonis, De’Aaron Fox, Harrison Barnes and promising rookie Davion Mitchell. They are taking their lumps now, but their future looks better now, even if they did lose Tyrese Haliburton in the trade with Indiana.
BRING ON UTAH: The Mavericks have been lodged in fifth place in the Western Conference since Jan. 5, despite winning 23 of their last 30 games. They’ll get another crack at the Utah Jazz on Monday, and so far, it’s been tough sledding against the Jazz as the Mavericks lost their two trips to Utah by a combined nine points. Now, the Jazz will make two stops at AAC in the final 18 games of the season. With the Mavericks just two games behind the Jazz in the loss column for the fourth playoff spot, these games obviously will be beyond critical.