In the fourth quarter of a game that they were trailing by six points with under seven minutes to go, the Mavericks’ leading scorer was Spencer Dinwiddie with 11 points.

Their leading assist man in the final 12 minutes was Tim Hardaway Jr. with three.

Luka Dončić? Oh, he was awesome, as always, in the Mavs’ 117-112 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. But the Mavericks are learning that the more help their superstar point guard gets, the more likely they are to get a victory.

And the more likely it is that they will have a Luka with some gas left in the tank come April and May.

Dinwiddie addressed that situation very eloquently in his postgame interview. He was talking about making key shots, which he did with two three-pointers in the last three minutes.

But he could have been referencing all sorts of things that were important for the Mavericks in the fourth quarter. And remember, this is a player who has not always been on the court in crunch time.

“You trust the work,” he said. “You try to knock them (shots) down for the team. Whether you’re in the closing lineup or not, obviously, there’s a certain level of pride being there, but at the same time, you trust your guys to get the W.

“This is a marathon and everybody’s going to contribute to our success in some form or fashion.”

That’s the essential attitude that every Maverick needs – from Dinwiddie to Christian Wood to Maxi Kleber to JaVale McGee. Just keep working and trust that the opportunity will come, later if not sooner.

And with that bit of wisdom courtesy of Dinwiddie, here’s our takeaways from Saturday’s impressive win over Portland.

A HELPING HAND: All you need to know about this game is that the Mavericks came into it dead-last in the NBA in assists at under 20 per game. They dished out 26 helpers against the Blazers, their season-best mark. And in the fourth quarter, they had eight assists, three of them by Hardaway, who was nearly flawless in the final 12 minutes, of which he played every second. Everybody will talk about Luka’s triple-double, but he had a ton of help in the fourth quarter. And their ball movement led to a lot of relatively easy shots. “It’s a byproduct of our team, our style,” Spencer Dinwiddie said. “You take more good shots than bad shots.” That’s what it boils down to. The Mavericks are better when the ball swings. “Swing, swing,” as Dinwiddie said. Luka had his share of hockey assists in addition to the 10 he got credited for. That’s the true proof of trusting the teammates.

LUKA’S BACK: OK, while the assists were nice, the triple-double Dončić amassed was nothing short of ridiculous. He had 42 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. It was the fourth time he’s had a 40-point triple-double. Only five players are on the list ahead of him: Oscar Robertson, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Wilt Chamberlain and LeBron James. That’s heady company. “It’s nice to have (triple-doubles),” Luka said. “I’m not going to lie. They’re special.” It’s worth noting that he also had 18 free-throw tries. He made 15. On the two-game trip (both losses) earlier in the week, he had only 16 combined free throw tries. “Attacking the paint,” he said. “The (last two) games I didn’t get to the free throw line, I wasn’t efficient because I wasn’t going into the paint. We have to get to the lane. By the way, Luka also said he expects his technical fouls from the last two games to get rescinded. We’ll see about that. But at the moment, he’s on pace for about 27 technicals this season, which would get him suspended for about the last 10 games or so. Plan on that pace getting reduced.

STARTING THE HOMESTAND RIGHT: Remember a couple weeks ago when the Mavericks opened a five-game home stand with a lousy loss to Oklahoma City? They would respond by winning the last four games of that stretch at American Airlines Center. This time, they got a win to start the five-game stay at AAC. And the Mavericks have been very good at home, not only this season (6-1) but they were strong to finish last season, too. Beware: the December schedule (and late November, too) is a beast. The Mavericks would be well-served by handling this homestand with the utmost focus. And three of the remaining four opponents are fashion themselves as strong playoff teams.

Twitter: @ESefko

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