Ever had one of those days where you hit every green light, find an extra $10 in the pocket of your jeans and get a visit from the boss where he tells you to take the afternoon off?
Yeah, me neither.
But Kristaps Porzingis had one of those magical nights on Wednesday when pretty much everything went right.
And, by extension, the Mavericks had a lot of things turn out great, too.
Porzingis tossed in 27 points to go with 13 rebounds as the Mavericks halted their three-game losing streak with a 124-112 victory over the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Playing just his fifth game since returning from rehab after right knee surgery in October, Porzingis made his first 10 shots from inside the 3-point arc, most of them from point-blank range as he and Luka Dončić worked the lob passes and baseline cuts to perfection.
Porzingis was starting at center for the first time after working as the power forward alongside Willie Cauley-Stein the previous four games.
The difference was clear. The Mavericks had a season-best 68 points in the paint. And while their long-range shooting was lagging early, it came alive in the fourth quarter when the Mavericks took charge of what had been a tight ballgame.
“When I play at the five (center), it’s so much easier for me,” Porzingis said. “When I roll (to the basket), there’s more space. And Luka did a great job of getting everybody involved.
First quarter, four of my five baskets were layups off of great passes from my teammates. So I didn’t really have to do much, set a good screen, roll to the basket and finish. Tonight, it came easy, a lot of good looks.”
And yet, the Mavericks didn’t break open the game until the fourth quarter – when Porzingis and Cauley-Stein were on the floor together. Coach Rick Carlisle made the decision to go with a smaller lineup to start the game when it was learned that Indiana’s Myles Turner, the NBA blocked-shot leader, would be out with a hand injury.
“It made a huge impact on our offense, for sure,” Carlisle said of the smaller lineup. “With all the different defensive looks we expected and the fact that Turner wasn’t playing, we were going to go smaller. If Turner had played, we probably would have stayed big, but we probably would have gotten small pretty quick.
“The five-out spacing definitely helps. But I think KP and Willie proved down the stretch of the game that you can still score points and get stops playing with two bigs. That was great to see and really the difference in the game when we were able to get a string of stops with Willie in the game.”
The Pacers scored just 20 points in the fourth quarter as the Mavericks turned a one-point lead into a 118-104 advantage with under five minutes to play.
In support of Porzingis, Trey Burke had 22 points off the bench.
Oh, and Dončić? All he did was post another triple-double, his fifth of the season and 30th of his still-young career. With the Indiana defense throwing multiple defenders his way, Dončić only had 13 points, but he also had 12 assists and 12 rebounds.
“Obviously, I couldn’t do much because every time down the court, I had two or three players on me every time,” Dončić said. “But that’s why the paint was so open. I think they forget we got five players on the court. That’s why we had a season high points in the paint.”
Though the Mavericks led most of the way, the game had gotten nervy in the third quarter and the Mavericks were only up by a point going into the fourth.
Then Burke came to life. He knocked in a couple of 3-pointers after the Mavericks had made just 4-of-21 through three quarters. They made four of six in the fourth quarter, which included Tim Hardaway Jr. hitting four of five shots overall and both of his 3-pointers. This after shooting 0-for-12 in the loss to Toronto on Monday.
“It was a great win for us,” Carlisle said. “I don’t think we lost more than two in a row all last year. And all of the sudden this season, we went from fifth place in the West to 10th place. So we needed to get back on track somehow. It was going to be all about the fight.
“And Porzingis was terrific. I think it’s great when we can get situations where we can get the spacing so he can mix rolls and pops.”
All of which led to the flood of points in the paint.
“We always want to get the ball in the paint,” Carlisle said. “Every team in this league is scoring more points per possession when they get the ball in the paint first. It’s just a fact of life.”