The Fast Break: Mavs at Sixers

Final: Sixers 109, Mavs 97

Box Score | Highlights

Behind the Box Score

Maxi Kleber started this game 3 of 3 from the field, giving him a 13-of-14 shooting line during a run that stretched across four games. During that time, Kleber’s field goal percentage on the season climbed from 46.6 percent to 48.8 percent. The German big man missed a jumper to break the streak, but you’re going to be hard-pressed to find a run of efficiency like that too often. It wasn’t like Kleber was only dunking it, either, as six of his makes during that time came from beyond the arc.

Notebook

  • This was a very good Dennis Smith Jr. game. He showed more crafty finishes…

    …and mixed in a nifty step-back jumper (his to was on the line) to beat the halftime buzzer.

    Smith finished with one of his more stuffed stat lines of the season, finishing with 20 points, a career-high-tying 11 assists, five rebounds, three steals, and two blocks. Unfortunately it came in a loss, but this was the kind of game where you could see his total impact on the game. He made so many plays on both ends to help his team, but his rookie opposition in Ben Simmons did the same for Philly. Those two are incredible, and Markelle Fultz is rounding back into form for the Sixers, too. These teams are going to have some fun battles in the coming years.

  • Early on in this one, we saw a play that should look awfully familiar.

    Kyle Collinsworth found Doug McDermott with a backdoor bounce pass for a layup. J.J. Barea has popularized — and almost immortalized — that exact play this season with a variety of partners, most commonly Yogi Ferrell and, previously, Devin Harris. McDermott is much bigger than those two, so it’s tougher for him to slip through the cracks in the defense. But he’s proven himself to be an excellent mover away from the ball, using quick bursts along with playing the angles to find open spaces when they’re there. It’s easy to look at a guy who shoots a ton of 3s and think that’s all he can do, but McDermott has shown time and time again in his brief-ish run in Dallas that he can cut with the best of them. If anything, the fear of his jumper opens up even more cutting alleys for him, because defenders would never want to be caught on tape giving him an easy look from beyond the arc. It’s been fun to watch McDermott play here, and it’s also been impressive to see Collinsworth continue to squeeze passes through tight spaces.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (24-57) will play the Phoenix Suns (20-60) on Tuesday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs at Pistons

    Final: Pistons 113, Mavs 106

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    Maxi Kleber’s streak of consecutive made field goals ended tonight at 10, a span that stretched across three games. I’m not sure how to even track something like this, but I have to believe it’s one of the longer streaks we’ve seen around Dallas in a very long time. Even back in the day when Brandan Wright was shooting almost 80 percent from the field, he was still missing one out of every five shots. Making 10 in a row is really, really tough.

    Dorian Finney-Smith set a new season-high tonight with 15 points, one game after matching his season-best mark of 14.

    Notebook

  • Johnathan Motley had the most productive game of his career tonight, compiling his first ever double-double by scoring 26 points and pulling down 12 rebounds, including hitting a game-tying 3-pointer with 10.1 seconds left. He set a new career-high for scoring and rebounds for the second game in a row and put together one of the most robust stat lines we’ve seen in a long time. The only other Mavs to meet Motley’s stat lines tonight since 2004 are Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, and Josh Howard.

    Motley faced no easy task tonight, having to bang on the block with the super-sized Andre Drummond for most of the game. But the first-year pro proved up to the challenge and often got the better of the Pistons center. One of his most impressive plays of the night was also one of the simplest: After Dwight Powell grabbed a rebound, Motley sprinted down the floor like a tight end up the seam, and collected a pass for the layup.

    It’s pretty exciting to see a big man take off like that, but Motley has shown many times that he’s got the athleticism and agility to make plays like that on a fairly regular basis. He’s got energy and the willingness to hustle, and when you combine that with scoring ability and talent in the post, you have the ingredients to what could be a nice player in the years to come.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (24-56) will play the Philadelphia 76ers (48-30) on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center at 12 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs at Magic

    Final: Magic 105, Mavs 100

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    Dorian Finney-Smith tied his season-high with 14 points. Coincidentally, both his earlier season-high and career-high (17) came against Sacramento.

    Notebook

  • Johnathan Motley got the first start of his career and he responded in a big way, tallying a career-high 14 points and eight rebounds in a whopping 41 minutes. Motley made a name for himself in the G League as a guy who can post up and crash the boards, and he did plenty of that tonight. He also had a couple really nice rolls to the rim which produced some big-time dunks.

    Motley has nice touch around the rim and can bust out a bevy of post moves in isolation, but most of his touches within the Mavs’ offense, especially when playing with J.J. Barea, will generally come within the flow of pick-and-roll or on put-backs. He made some nice plays in those situations tonight, which was big to see. With a few of his teammates at the center spot out for a while, Motley will likely get plenty of minutes the rest of the way, where he’ll get more opportunities to put together strong performances like this one.

  • Maxi Kleber is now 7 of 15 from beyond the arc in his last five games. It’s been a welcome return to form for the first-year NBA player after connecting only 19.2 percent of his attempts in the 19 games preceding this run. Kleber’s shot looks more comfortable coming out of his hand, and he’s putting better arc on the ball. Simultaneous improvements in both form and confidence can do wonders for a player. It helps, too, that Kleber has received an increase in minutes lately due to a suspension to Nerlens Noel and knee soreness in Salah Mejri that has kept them out of games. The German rookie figures to receive plenty more run down the stretch this season, and continuing to develop that outside shot is going to be pivotal for him heading into the offseason.

  • Kyle Collinsworth is capable of stuffing the stat sheet. He’s the Division I all-time leader in career triple-doubles for a reason, and tonight he showed us why. The rookie scored a career-high 14 points and added nine rebounds and a career-high six assists in a busy night. He always finds ways to be around the ball and make plays. Usually it’s through a combination of smarts and creativity, but there’s no doubt that Collinsworth can soar, too. This play didn’t count, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t cool anyway.

    Collinsworth’s big summer project is going to be continuing to work on his 3-pointer — just like Kleber, and just like most other players in the NBA these days. He can already do everything else. If that shot ever comes, watch out. In the meantime, he’s already a pretty good player.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (24-55) will play the Detroit Pistons (37-40) on Friday at Little Caesars Arena at 6 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs vs. Blazers

    Final: Mavs 115, Blazers 109

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    The Mavs have been getting off to impressive defensive starts lately, and tonight they limited the Blazers to only 22 points in the opening frame. It marked the fifth time in the club’s last six games that the defense allowed 22 points or fewer in the first quarter.

    Notebook

  • Dennis Smith Jr. is amazing.


  • There were two other instances in this game, outside of normal scenarios, where we saw how extraordinarily high Dennis Smith Jr. can jump. The first helped him get a rebound, and the second time counted for nothing, but it’s fun to talk about it anyway. Here’s the first.

    That’s a center who’s nearly a foot taller than Smith, and the rookie soars right past him like he’s not even there. That was one of Smith’s eight rebounds tonight. (He added 18 points and eight assists, as well, flirting with his second triple-double.) The second play came earlier in the game, when Damian Lillard drew a foul on the perimeter. After the whistle, Lillard pulled up for a jumper just to find some rhythm. As is kind of customary around the league, Smith sailed in to swat the shot, only he had to get up pretty darn high to get there. Normally we see big men block it, not a point guard. And then something else amazing happened.

    That three-second exchange counted for nothing and will never show up on a box score, but it showed you exactly why none of us will ever play in the NBA. Those guys are just messing around and one is jumping four feet in the air to block a shot, while the other responds by throwing a 30-foot rainbow in the air and catching nothing but nylon. It’s little stuff like that about the NBA that makes it even greater.

  • J.J. Barea made his return to action tonight after missing the previous four games due to personal reasons. It was nice to see him perform some magic; it’d been too long.

    Barea got the start tonight and put up 15 points and five assists in just 21 minutes. He didn’t look like a guy who hadn’t played in a week.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (24-54) will play the Orlando Magic (22-54) on Wednesday at Amway Center at 6 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs at Cavaliers

    Final: Cavaliers 98, Mavs 87

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    This was a meeting of two of the top-seven scorers in NBA history in Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron James. Both have surpassed the 30,000-point plateau, making it only the second unique pairing of two members of the 30K club in nearly 30 years. It was the fifth-most combined points of any two players in a game in NBA history, trailing only Karl Malone’s final four face-offs with Michael Jordan in the early-2000s. So outside of MJ and the Mailman, this was the highest-scoring matchup of all-time. Pretty cool to think about.

    The Cavs scored just 18 points in the first quarter, which ties for their second-lowest output in the opening frame all season. It’s the second consecutive game the Mavs have kept their opponent under 20 in the first, after limiting the Wolves to just 16 on Friday night.

    Notebook

  • Harrison Barnes might have had his best offensive game as a Maverick tonight. Barnes scored 30 points on an easy 10-of-19 shooting clip, including knocking down five of his 10 3-point attempts. He added five made free throws on as many attempts and five assists. He’s now averaging 21.7 points per game in his last 15 contests on nearly 45 percent shooting and 43 percent from beyond the arc, plus 2.8 assists. Those are spectacular numbers. A big source of his efficiency has come from the pull-up 3-pointer, which he’s beginning to shoot more and more. I lost track of how many he took tonight (I believe most if not all of his attempts were off the bounce) but heading into this one he was 8 of 18 on off-the-dribble treys since the All-Star break. If he really was 5 of 10 on them tonight, that bumps him up to 13 of 28 since the break, which is absurd efficiency.

    He just steps into that shot so easily. Last season he said he sometimes just didn’t have the legs to shoot the 3-ball consistently, but now that he’s playing more small forward and banging with the bigs less often around the rim, maybe he’s got a little more spring in his step. He also ran another pick-and-roll as the ball-handler with Dennis Smith Jr. and the Mavs got a bucket out of it.

    He’s really come a long way these last 15 games.

  • Any reason is a good reason to show a Dennis Smith Jr. dunk.

    There isn’t much more to say about this play other than wow, that guy is really good and exciting and can jump extremely high. It was a nice move, obviously, spinning off his defender and then rising for the strong finish over the help. But yeah. It was awesome.

  • We know Doug McDermott can shoot it, but who know he had this kind of footwork and touch?

    McDermott smoothly and easily strode into a one-legged fadeaway with some really nice footwork and body control. That’s not an easy move to pull off at half-speed, let alone nearly at full speed. He’s got so much talent and is still only in his mid-20s. It’s gonna be really interesting to see the kind of player he can become with two or three more years of work and experience.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (23-54) will play the Portland Trail Blazers (47-29) on Tuesday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs vs. Timberwolves

    Final: Timberwolves 93, Mavs 92

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    Tonight was Dirk Nowitzki’s 75th appearance in the 2017-18 campaign. He became the first player in NBA history to play at least 75 games in his 20th season or later, passing the mark shared by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Robert Parish. It’s another testament to Dirk’s extraordinary longevity and willingness to put in extra work before and after practices that he’s been ready to play so many games at this age.

    Notebook

  • It’s been a relatively quiet month or so for Dwight Powell after he went on a tear in the middle of February, but Powell had a very loud third quarter in this game. During one stretch that couldn’t have been much longer than two or three minutes, Powell stripped Karl-Anthony Towns in the post then blocked his shot, hit a corner 3-pointer, found a cutting Dorian Finney-Smith for a dunk, and grabbed an offensive rebound and laid it back in. Powell is at his best when he’s active and plays with energy, and tonight he had to bring as much of that as possible to hang with the incredibly talented Towns. Powell finished with six points, seven boards, and two assists in 21 minutes. Likewise, Maxi Kleber had a pep in his step in this one, swatting four shots and scoring 10 points, which matched his highest output in a game since December.

  • In a bit of a role reversal, Harrison Barnes was the one who benefited from a Dennis Smith Jr. pick during one play in the first half.

    Plays like this really put the defense in a precarious position. No point guard wants to switch onto a bigger player coming full speed off a screen, and even if he’s able to stop Barnes, Barnes can easily post him up and get a pretty good look. At the same time, switching a big onto Smith isn’t a great idea, either. What’s more, neither player is really used to defending pick-and-rolls from that particular position. We saw Cleveland do this a lot with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving while those two played together to create a little bit of chaos. I wonder how much more we’ll see things like this the rest of this season.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (23-53) will play the Cleveland Cavaliers (45-30) on Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena at 5 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs at Lakers

    Final: Lakers 103, Mavs 93

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    Yogi Ferrell scored in double figures once again tonight. He’s now scored at least 10 points in seven of his last eight appearances, despite only starting one of those games. He averages 9.8 points per game off the bench. Lately he’s been playing more backup 1 minutes with both Dennis Smith Jr. and J.J. Barea having missed games. If he can provide consistent scoring at point guard, he’s going to carve himself a nice role in this league.

    Notebook

  • Dennis Smith Jr. got off to a roaring start from beyond the arc in this one, hitting four 3-pointers in the first half, including three in the first quarter.

    Smith also had another nice floor game, handing out eight assists. His biggest highlight of the night, though, came on a fast break.

    Maybe it was a coincidence — or maybe not — that literally only a matter of seconds before Smith came up with the ball on the breakaway, his buddy J. Cole emerged from the Staples Center tunnel and onto the floor. Cole hadn’t even made it to his seat by the time Smith threw down the 360 dunk, which led to the rapper celebrating and cheering right in the middle of the aisle. It was a pretty cool scene. Anyway, Smith is making plenty of exciting plays while also developing the meat and potatoes elements of his game. Enjoy the growth while it lasts, because his peak might arrive sooner than you think.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (23-52) will play the Minnesota Timberwolves (43-33) on Friday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.