Final: Mavs 113, Suns 108
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
The Mavericks offense went ballistic in the first and third quarters. In the opening frame, Dallas hit 11 consecutive shots at one point. In the third, meanwhile, the Mavs opened up on a 19-4 run. Hot shooting played a big role in that, of course, but the other thing those two runs had in common was all the turnovers Dallas forced in the process. At one point in the third, the Mavs forced six turnovers in less than six minutes.
Harrison Barnes has scored in double-figures in 39 consecutive games to begin his Mavs career. Per the FSSW broadcast, that’s tied for the fourth-longest streak in NBA history for a player beginning his career with a new team. He’s also shot at least 56 percent from the field in four of his last five games. What a run he’s been on as of late.
Every single Mavs starter scored in double-digits. It’s the first time this season that’s been the case.
How about Dorian Finney-Smith hitting both free throws with under 15 seconds left? He hadn’t taken a free throw in 2017, and had taken just six from the charity stripe since Dec. 5. Clutch stuff from the rookie.
The Mavs’ veterans carried the day tonight. Count Harrison Barnes as a veteran, too, because while he’s still only 24 years old, he looks like a player firmly in his prime. The Mavs starting five was +17 as a unit tonight, with a strong third quarter buoying that number. Whenever you get them, though, those points were more than the difference in the game. The Mavericks’ starting group hasn’t had a game like this one in some time; in fact, the unit’s plus-minus was the best it’s been all season. It’s obviously extremely difficult to outplay the opponent’s starting group so thoroughly across an entire game, but that’s what the Mavericks did tonight. Reserves made contributions too, as has been the case in each of the other Mavs’ wins this season, but the starters paced this one. However Dallas can get the wins these days, the Mavs have got to get them. And tonight, it came because of the starting five.
Deron Williams was scorching from the field tonight, even more so than the rest of his teammates. The veteran point guard finished with 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting, hitting four 3-pointers as well, and dishing out 12 assists. Williams now has three 20-point outings in his last five appearances. The return of Dirk Nowitzki has given him another pick-and-roll partner, and the fact that Dirk plays a lot of 5 now has helped Williams even further, as the German pulls big men away from the rim, thereby opening driving lanes for Williams to get into space and attack the bucket facing minimal resistance. The Dirk/Williams pick-and-pop was the Mavs’ best weapon last season, and since his return it’s been fruitful for this season’s club, too. Until now, we haven’t really seen the Mavericks play much 5-out basketball in the Rick Carlisle era, but Dallas routinely spaces the floor to the extreme these days, and the offense is starting to heat up because of it.
The NBA is all about player safety, and I think one of the next things the league should take a look at to help that cause is discouraging players from fouling big men going up for alley-oop lobs by awarding two free throws whether it’s before or after they jump to receive the pass. Dwight Powell falls victim to guards either grabbing him with two hands or just flat-out body-checking him before or while he leaps to catch the pass and throw down the dunk. That’s a very dangerous play and can result in some seriously awkward falls for the offensive player. However, it’s not considered a shooting foul unless he’s already airborne, which encourages little defenders to hit them — and hit them hard. In the coming seasons I suspect the competition committee will consider penalizing that foul with two free throws automatically. You’d hate to see them make that violation an automatic flagrant, but given the risk involved — and the fact that bear-hugging a player is a non-basketball play — I wonder if that might be a possibility, as well.
It was just the German’s second dunk of the season, in 14 games. He’s actually ahead of last season’s pace, when he threw down only five slams in 75 appearances. He’s got some time to top that mark, but the pursuit to really keep an eye on is his approach to 30,000 career points.
The Mavs (12-27) play the Minnesota Timberwolves (13-26) on Sunday at American Airlines Center at 1 p.m. Central.
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