Another game netted another win for the Dallas Mavericks. Saturday’ business-like 108-92 triumph over the Orlando Magic was the Mavs’ ninth in their last 11 games, including the eighth in their past nine contests.
One of the losses over the past 11 games was that heartbreaking 95-94 setback at Sacramento on Dec. 29 when Kings forward Chimezie Metu drilled a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer. The other loss occurred Wednesday (108-85) in New York against the Knicks.
“I think were clicking,” guard Jalen Brunson said. “It’s been a little bit of a weird year, but we’re finally clicking at the right time. We just got to keep it going.
“We can’t be satisfied with what we’ve been able to do these past couple of weeks. We got to just keep pushing the same way we have been.”
Here are our five takeaways from the win over the Magic.
PORZINGIS RETURNS: Kristaps Porzingis had a triumphant return Saturday night against the Orlando Magic. In his first game since Dec. 31, the seven-year veteran scored 19 points and snatched seven rebounds in 28 minutes. That includes firing in 12 of those points in the first quarter, capped by a buzzer-beating three-pointer when the opening quarter ended. Porzingis was 4-of-8 from the field, 2-of-3 from three-point range and 9-of-12 from the free throw line. Prior to Saturday, Porzingis missed seven straight games – one for resting purposes and six due to the health and safety protocols.
MAVS REMAINED FOCUSED: A night after going to Memphis and snapping the Grizzlies’ 11-game winning streak during a 27-point victory, the Mavs kept their focused and methodically ran past the team with the worst record in the entire NBA. Sometimes it’s difficult to remain focused when playing – on paper — a lesser opponent. That’s particularly true on the very first night after easily smashing the team everyone in the NBA was talking about. But the Mavs didn’t let their guard down against the Magic and have now won for the eighth time in their last nine games.
ALL HANDS ON DECK: It may have gone unnoticed by many, but Saturday was the first time since the first three games of the season that the Mavs went into a game with everyone healthy. That was made possible after Kristaps Porzingis was removed from the health and safety protocols list in preparations for Saturday’s game, in addition to the Mavs waiving center Willie Cauley-Stein, who hasn’t played since Nov. 27 due to personal reasons. Even head coach Jason Kidd was back on the sidelines after missing four games because of the health and safety protocols.
DEFENSIVE FIELD GOAL STREAK CONTINUES: One way to tell how well a team is playing defensively is to look at the shooting percentage of the other team. In the Mavs’ case, they’ve gone 20 consecutive games without allowing anyone to shoot 50 percent from the field against them. That’s currently the longest active streak in the NBA. The Mavs are 13-7 over those last 20 games, and held the Magic to 48.1 percent shooting. The last team to shoot 50 percent or better from the field against the Mavs were the Brooklyn Nets, who made 50.6 percent of their shots on Dec. 7 during a 102-99 win in Dallas.
BRUNSON SOLID AGAIN: The very efficient Jalen Brunson continued his steady play with 19 points, five rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals. It’s the 24th straight time Brunson has scored at least 10 points in a game. The streak started on Dec. 1 against New Orleans when Brunson poured in 17 points in only 24 minutes on 7-of-9 shots off the bench during a 139-107 triumph over the Pelicans. Against the Magic, Brunson was 8-of-11 from the field, converted his only three-point attempt and made both of his free throw tries in 28 minutes.