Final: Mavs 119, Wizards 100

  • The Mavericks put together as complete a 48 minutes as they have played all season long in this game, winning three of the four quarters by double-digits. Washington outscored the Mavs 29-17 in the third, in part fueled by a particularly fiery run of shot-making toward the end of the frame. But Rick Carlisle has talked many times about the importance of stringing together 48 solid minutes, and the Mavs did that tonight as well as they have in any game this year. The results were strong: Four Mavericks scored at least 19 points, Dallas assisted on 25 of its 39 makes from the field, and the Mavs produced 17 fast break points, many of which were generated by Dennis Smith Jr. hustle plays.

  • Luka Doncic compiled 23 points, six rebounds, and three assists, and it’s pretty ridiculous that these are basically already his season averages. Per Mavs PR, Doncic has totaled 198 points, 65 rebounds and 44 assists through his first 10 career games. The only other player in NBA history to reach those numbers through 10 games is Oscar Robertson. Now, the Big O grabbed way more rebounds and handed out way more assists, but the fact that literally no other player of all-time has ever reached those numbers tells you at least a little something about Doncic’s start. He’s making impressive plays look easy and is doing things statistically that frankly we have not seen in Dallas, let alone around the NBA.

    His scoring game is coming along very nicely. The step-back 3 is a fun move…

    But he’s mixing in more floaters and crafty finishes around the rim, too. Doncic only shot three free throws in this game but, but on the season he has a higher free throw rate (free throws attempted per field goal attempt) of any perimeter player on the team. (Speaking of free throws, Dennis Smith Jr. shot five of them, as did Harrison Barnes, which are both good signs.) The step-back 3 poses a threat to defenders who sag too far off, and once they begin fearing the shot he might be able to dupe them into three-shot fouls, but for now Doncic is just shifty enough in the pick-and-roll to occasionally earn a trip to the charity stripe. All in all, the Mavs attempted 27 free throws, their second-most in any game this season, and converted a season-high 26 of them. They also only conceded 20 free throw attempts, the second-fewest any opponent has earned against them all season. Generally, when you shoot (and, more importantly, make) more free throws than your opponent, good things will happen.

  • The court of public opinion wasn’t kind to most of this team throughout the course of the six-game losing streak, and while some criticism is always warranted during a string of losses, sometimes the negative can simply blind you to the positives. For example, tonight was one of Smith’s best games of the season, or possibly even his best. The other game that comes to mind was his performance against Utah, in which he scored a career-high-tying 27 points and scored from all over the place, but unfortunately the Maverick lost that game. Then, Smith followed it up with another strong game against San Antonio before having a couple rough outings against the Lakers and Knicks. Fandom can often be a “what have you done for me lately?” proposition, but ultimately Smith has now played pretty solid games in three out of five trips, and it’s important to remember he hasn’t yet even played 82 career games. He’s learning. The entire team is still learning to play together, and hopefully now we’re beginning to see the fruit of their labor. This was an exciting performance, and hopefully we won’t have to wait six more games to see another one like it. I suspect we won’t.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (3-7) are heading to the mountains for a quick back-to-back, where they’ll take on the Jazz. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. Central.

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