Everybody knows about the dirty work that Dorian Finney-Smith does and that’s certainly his calling card.
What goes under-recognized is that the Mavericks now are 18-7 when he scores 10 or more points. That includes his 16-point (and a career-best 16-rebound) effort Tuesday afternoon in a 109-105 victory over the Sacramento Kings as the Mavericks improved to 1-2 at the NBA bubble.
Finney-Smith had a couple of blah games as the Mavericks lost to Houston and Phoenix. He epitomized their victory on Tuesday, however, with typically gritty play. And his scoring came in handy, too.
“He’s been great for us,” Luka Doncic said of Finney-Smith. “Sometimes, you’re not going to see it in the statistics. He’s been one of the most important players for us. Just playing amazing defense, rebounding the ball, scoring.”
Scoring. Not usually something that is prominent in the third-year forward’s tool box. He’d averaged 5.5 points in the first two games of the restart. But he was very efficient down the stretch against the Kings. After Kristaps Porzingis fouled out, Finney-Smith got rolling.
He had 13 points and seven rebounds in the fourth quarter and overtime. He played all 17 minutes and the Mavericks outscored the Kings 39-28 in that span. Finney-Smith was 4-of-8 from the field after missing all five of his shots in the first three quarters.
“He was a force,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “Defensively, he was great. On the boards, he was great. Big free throws down the stretch. And he had some pretty good looks from 3 . . . when it really counted he knocked in a big one in the second half.
“He was doing the things that he’s kind of earned the reputation for. The dirty work.”
While nobody’s expecting Finney-Smith to become a scoring machine, every once in a while, it’s nice to see a “dirty work” guy get some love offensively. And while he was active offensively around the basket, he said he wasn’t making a conscious effort to pick up the slack after Porzingis left.
“I’d say it was a team thing,” he said. “Guys did a good job of stepping up. When Luka’s in a spot like that (without Porzingis), that’s when role guys got to step it up and find a way to win.”
Which the Mavericks did.
Finney-Smith also showed that he was feeling better physically. Carlisle said he’s been fighting a right hip problem – the same one that kept him out of three of the last four games before the NBA shutdown on March 11.
“He’s been a little bit hobbled with the hip issue,” Carlisle said. “It’s kind of come back a little bit. Our medical staff has been working with him on it. It was clear today that he felt much better.”
Said Finney-Smith: “I’m getting my legs back. It takes a lot of energy crashing every time. We ain’t played for a long time, so (I’m just now) getting my legs back.”
Curry sits: Carlisle made it clear after the win that the Mavericks will not take any chances down the stretch with aches and pains.
Shooting guard Seth Curry was held out of Tuesday’s game when he experienced right leg soreness. He was replaced in the starting lineup by J.J. Barea.
Curry has had both of his legs surgically repaired in his basketball career. He missed all of the 2017-18 season to have surgery on his left tibia.
But he played all of 2018-19 with Portland relatively injury-free. He had missed only one game this season because of problems with his right leg.
“We’re going to give him (a day),” coach Rick Carlisle said before the loss. “We held him out of practice (Monday) and we’re going to hold him out today and hope that he’s ready to go on Thursday (against the Clippers).”
After the game, while stressing that winning remains the major priority, Carlisle reiterated that the Mavericks will “look at everybody medically on a game-to-game basis. We’re not going to take any risks medically. We’re going to try to get ourselves ready to play in the playoffs.”
Briefly: The Mavericks made a living at the free-throw line, shooting a season-high 50 times from the stripe. They made 39 . . . Kristaps Porzingis had 22 points in just 27 minutes before fouling out . . . Sacramento’s Bogdan Bogdanovic had a forgettable day. He missed his first 14 shots from the field before finally knocking in a 3-pointer with just 6 seconds remaining in the overtime.