In the Mavericks’ hard-nosed overtime win over Denver late Thursday night, coach Rick Carlisle played nine players 10 minutes or more.
Six of them were either second-round draft picks or not drafted at all.
All six played major roles in the 124-117 win that leveled the Mavericks’ record at 4-4.
Yes, Luka Dončić was the beacon. His 38 points made everything else possible.
But take a look at what the deep supporting cast accomplished:
These are prime examples of players that help you win games. Carlisle and his staff have done a commendable job of cultivating talent on which other NBA teams passed.
“There’s many ways that there are to improve your team,” Carlisle said. “Internally is one way, by developing players. We’ve had some good luck here by developing guys like Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, Brunson and others.
“And then, free agency, the right chemistry move, the right skill move can be very, very important. Everything’s in play.”
Clearly, players that aren’t lottery picks can be valuable assets. The Mavericks are cashing in the dividends earned by those sorts of players.
Is it the hair? James Johnson started the season with a blond hair color, but that changed before the Denver game on Thursday.
He got a trimmed-up cut and went back to his natural hair color. It seemed to agree with him.
Johnson only played nine-plus minutes against the Nuggets. But he came up with seven points, all in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter when the Mavericks really needed it.
“That was another stretch of the game that energized our whole team,” Carlisle said. “We had him in for a defensive possession to end the third. We kept him in, he hit a three, he hit a drive, hit a difficult jump hook on the baseline with a guy in his face.
“That was a huge stretch for us. Luka wasn’t in the game. A lot of our other starters weren’t in the game. Those were big plays. Every little thing matters in an NBA game. That contribution of 4, 5, 6 minutes were really big.”
Briefly: Trey Burke still is listed as questionable for Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. game against the Orlando Magic at American Airlines Center. There will not be fans allowed into the game, nor on Monday against New Orleans . . . In two games back since missing the Chicago contest with a quad injury, Luka Dončić has averaged 35.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 12 assists – more than enough to overshadow the 16 turnovers in those two games.