The Fast Break: Mavs vs. Nuggets

Final: Mavs 122, Nuggets 105

Box Score | Highlights

Behind the Box Score

Tonight the Mavericks had their highest-scoring first quarter (39 points) since dropping 39 on Feb. 28, 2016 against the Timberwolves, and they built their biggest lead after the opening frame since Feb. 4, 2015, when they led Golden State by 17 points. Not a bad way to start a game.

Dallas held a 17-point advantage at halftime, 64-47. It marked the team’s first time leading by 15+ points at the break in consecutive games since November 2014 when the Mavs did it in three straight games, one of which included the 123-70 win against Philadelphia. That night, Dallas led 73-29 at the break, the team’s biggest halftime advantage in franchise history.

The Mavericks are now 178-3 in the Rick Carlisle era when leading by double-digits after three quarters, per Basketball-Reference.

Notebook

  • Dennis Smith Jr. has had a lot of “good at this” games lately, where he really shines in one or two areas of his game. Tonight he showed a ton of ability getting downhill, both in the open floor and in halfcourt situations. First, he was able to attack early in the shot clock by pushing the ball off misses.

    And once he established that he could get to the basket, the Nuggets defense began crashing down to stop this attempts at the rim. That only opens up shots for his teammates, though, if he’s able to find them.

    Finally, Rick Carlisle has said one area he’s still improving in is his decisiveness with his dribble. That might seem like a pretty abstract concept, but what he means is Smith sometimes takes a couple more dribbles than he needs to when sizing up a mismatched defender, and that can allow the opponent to begin crowding the lane and gearing up for a drive. This was a great example of a drive timed right.

    Kenneth Faried is a good player but he doesn’t have the speed to stay in front of Smith. Once Smith drew the switch, he took a dribble or so to read the situation and then attacked immediately, mixing in a pump-fake to give himself some extra breathing room before finishing with a baby hook. He reached the 20-point plateau for the first time since Nov. 14. All in all, this was an awesome game from the rookie.

  • After going nearly a month without blocking more than five shots in a game, the Mavs have now swatted at least six in two straight games. Maxi Kleber is improving in that regard, and we already know what Salah Mejri is capable of. Blocked shots are always good, but the act of trying to block one can sometimes compromise your position for a rebound or put you at risk of committing a foul on a pump-fake. Nevertheless, it’s good to see their big men returning more shots to sender and starting an extra fast break or two in the process.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (7-17) will play the Boston Celtics (21-4) on Wednesday at the TD Garden at 6:30 p.m. Central.