5 TAKEAWAYS FROM THE 120-113 WIN OVER SUNS
LUKA RULED THE NIGHT: Who says Luka Doncic’s game doesn’t play well in Phoenix? In the Mavs’ two games in Phoenix as a rookie last season, Doncic combined to finish with just 23 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. In the first and third quarters on Friday, he combined to score 30 points, snatch seven rebounds and hand out 10 assists. Overall, in another in a laundry list of outstanding performances, Doncic finished Friday’s game with a career-high tying 42 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists. It’s been like taking candy from a baby for the second-year point guard from Slovenia as coaches have rarely been able to devise a defensive scheme to slow him down. Doncic beat the Suns with his exceptional scoring, with his impressive passes, and with his sheer ability to attack the glass as he missed out on collecting his eighth triple-double of the season by only one rebound. After what he’s accomplished in his first 90 NBA games, any superlative you want to attach to his name would be absolutely valid.
LUKA RULED THE MONTH: OK, the elite company Luka Doncic is keeping right now is a Who’s Who of basketball. Following Doncic’s outlandish show-stopping performance against the Suns, he has joined Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook as the only players in NBA history to average a 30-point plus triple-double in a calendar month. In 14 games in November, Doncic averaged a whopping 32.4 points, 10.3 rebounds and 10.4 assists per contest. Indeed, those are some eye-popping off the chart numbers. Robertson accomplished this task five different times, and Westbrook has done it on two occasions. Elsewhere, Doncic has as many 40-point, 10-assist games over the past six games (three) as any other Mavs player has 30-point, 10-assist games in a single season. He also had five other 30-point, 10-assist games in November. In other words, Doncic is just putting up some jaw-dropping numbers that are usually reserved for NBA Most Valuable Player candidates.
PORZINGIS CONTRIBUTED IN OTHER AREAS: As far as scoring goes, the basketball wasn’t very kind to Kristaps Porzingis on Friday. The 7-3 power forward put up eight shots – six from 3-point range – and missed them all while finishing the night with just two measly free throws. Nevertheless, Porzingis didn’t fret. Simply out, he found other ways to be a constant contributor on the court as he wound up with game highs in rebounds (13) and blocks (threes), and also recorded a game-high tying two steals. Here’s what Suns coach Monty Williams had to say when he glanced at the final stat sheet and saw his team held Porzingis to just two points. Williams said: “If you told me Porzingis was going to score two points, you would have thought we had a chance to win by four, five, maybe 10.” However, the Mavs proved on Friday they can still win games – even road games — if Porzingis has an off night scoring points.
HARDAWAY TICKLNG THE TWINE: Tim Hardaway Jr. continued to showcase a hot hand since he was placed in the starting lineup five games ago. When the Suns were threatening to run and hide from the Mavs after Phoenix built a 10-point lead with 5:08 remaining in the third quarter, Hardaway was part of the Dallas contingent that helped keep the Suns at bay. Overall, Hardaway finished the game with 26 points and was 8-of-14 from the floor and an even more impressive 6-of-9 from 3-point territory. He also – along with Dorian Finney-Smith – helped contain Devin Booker, who scored just 18 points on 6-of-16 shooting. “Tim’s not only a helluva player, he’s the leader for us out there on the floor,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s just doing a lot of good things – not just scoring the ball.” During the last five games, Hardaway is averaging 20.2 points and is 33-of-55 from the field for 60 percent, and 20-of-33 from 3-point land for 60.6 percent.
MAVS CAUGHT THEIR SECOND WIND: Just when it appeared as though the Mavs were going to leave the Valley of the Sun without a victory, they suddenly caught fire and ran their record on the road to an impressive 6-2. After Tim Hardaway Jr. drained a 3-pointer to give the Mavs a 56-52 lead less than two minutes into the third quarter, the Suns rallied and went on a 22-8 run to take a 74-64 lead with 5:08 left in the third quarter. But after scoring just 64 points in the game’s first 31 minutes, the Mavs suddenly caught fire and poured in 56 points over the game’s final 17 minutes. Some 19 of those points came from Luka Doncic, 12 came from Hardaway, and eight came from Seth Curry as the Mavs’ backcourt did a number on the Suns. “We showed great composure and we kept our aggression and we kept together,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “The game got snippy, which is not surprising. We did a lot of good things. I’m real happy, obviously, with the win, but really proud of our guys for sticking together and finding a way.”