Sometimes, these Mavericks will frustrate the bejabbers out of you.
And then there was Monday night, when they played their fifth game in seven nights, their second in 24 hours and despite those hardships, they put on a show that makes you think this team has a future.
Sooner, rather than later.
The Mavericks stepped on Charlotte’s throat early and never let the Hornets have a gasp of a chance, rolling up a 30-point first-half lead and cruising to a 120-96 victory at American Airlines Center.
Yes, that’s right, it was a win at AAC, the Mavericks’ first one since Nov. 15. They had lost five in a row since then, but they clearly were sick and tired of the home woes.
“We’ve always been a good road team,” said Dorian Finney-Smith, who scored 13 of his 15 points in the third quarter. “But we got to change . . . and protect the house. Move forward and try to get some wins at home.”
Monday was a good start. Kristaps Porzingis made sure the Mavericks would win their second game in a row – the first time that’s happened since Nov. 12 and 15 – with a huge first half. He had 22 points and 12 rebounds before halftime, when the Mavericks went ahead 70-40.
The rest of the night was just for show. But it was a nice chance for Finney-Smith, Trey Burke and others to pick up the slack for Luka Dončić, who missed his second consecutive game with left ankle soreness.
Just about everybody who stepped on the floor made good things happen for the Mavericks, who scored the first 10 points of the game and never trailed.
It was a great night for Porzingis, in particular because he has spent most of his first few seasons with the Mavericks sitting out the second half of back-to-back games.
But after a relatively easy night Sunday at Oklahoma City, he came back with a dominating first half Monday.
“It’s weird but I almost feel better on the second game of a back-to-back than when I have to get my body going for the first one,” Porzingis said. “But I felt good. Obviously, some games are physically more taxing. Yesterday wasn’t one of those games. But I felt better today than I did yesterday.
“It was a good night for us. We started shooting well and then Trey came in and gave us some good spark on offense.”
Porzingis also had five of the Mavericks’ eight blocked shots.
“He was great from the start on the defensive end, great on the help, protecting the rim,” coach Jason Kidd said. “And offensively, he let the game come to him. He was great.”
Burke also had a memorable night. He finished with 22 points, easily his high point game this season, hitting 9-of-14 shots (4-of-7 from 3-point land). He also had six assists and led the Mavericks’ bench to 59 points.
“That second unit was great,” Kidd said. “Trey was at an all-time high for us. ( think it’s great. Those guys (on the fringe of the rotation) have pride and they have egos, too. That group, they’ve been moving the ball. It started last night (in Oklahoma City) and the carryover tonight – everybody’s touching it. It’s just a matter of trusting and being unselfish and you can see that the way the ball’s moving.”
And for a team that had shot 3-pointers at less than 28 percent in three of their previous four games, the Mavericks were positively torrid on Monday, hitting 19 of 41 3-pointers (46.3 percent) as they nosed over .500 for the season at 14-13 going into Wednesday’s visit by LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers (6:30 p.m. tipoff).
And so, the Mavericks got a win against an Eastern Conference team. They came in with a 2-7 record against East opponents, including 1-4 at AAC.
And Charlotte (15-14) is certainly a playoff-contending team in that conference. But the Hornets also came to Dallas with nearly half their roster impacted by COVID-19 over the last week.
They still had star-in-the-making LaMelo Ball and Mason Plumlee, usually starters for the Hornets, out against the Mavericks. So were key reserves Jalen McDaniels and Ish Smith.
The Hornets did get guard Terry Rozier back after he had missed four games because of health and safety protocols.
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