Coming off a disappointing home loss to the Hornets on Wednesday night, which disappointed both the coaching staff and players, the Mavericks were looking to get back on track against the Heat, and they did.
Luka Dončić led the way for Dallas with 27 points, 15 rebounds, and seven assists, Tim Hardaway Jr. added 18 points, and the Mavericks(2-3) would go on to beat the Heat(2-3) 93-83 at American Airlines Center on Friday night.
Bam Adebayo led Miami with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Dončić has struggled with his shot this season, especially from three-point range. The third-year player was only 3-10 from downtown on Friday night, but it’s an improvement when considering he was 2-21 from three-point range coming into the game against Miami.
After all the struggles, Dončić was super excited to make his first three on Friday.
“I was so happy,” Dončić said on making his first three in the game. “I’ve been struggling a lot, so I was happy when I made that three. It made my day.”
Dallas’ win against Miami was about what they did on the defensive end, especially in the second quarter when they held Miami to 15 points, including 16% shooting from the field. Mavericks F James Johnson came off the bench and gave the team a spark on both ends of the court. The former Heat player scored eight points in the quarter, and Dallas led 46-31 at the break.
“(James) Johnson’s given us a big lift off the bench,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said. He’s experienced, he makes impact plays at both ends of the floor and he’s unselfish and gets his teammates involved… He’s a great spirit guy for our team. He’s a great leader as a veteran guy. He talks to everybody; he keeps people up on the bench. He’s been a great acquisition for us.”
After losing to the Hornets 118-99 on Wednesday night, Carlisle’s primary focus at practice was the team’s defense.
“We didn’t even talk about offense the last couple of days,” Carlisle said. “We’re just talking about defense, intensity, playing together hard, effort, and the importance of details. We spent a lot of time on the details heading into this game, and it paid off. The stats will show that their 3-point shooters didn’t get going and that’s because we really put forth a good effort to stay on their tails the whole time. We won the rebounding battle, which is always going to be important because that’s possessions. I don’t know what the deflection count was but it was good. We’ve got to maintain, and we’ve got to sustain.”
Dallas has been up and down this season, but this was a good win for Dallas against the Eastern Conference champions, and now they have to build off this victory. According to Johnson, the team was humbled in the first few games, which should help them as they head out on a three-game road trip.
“All of the games are tough,” Johnson said. “They are so quick. But I think we went through our tough stretch in the first three games, honestly. It really showed us where we were at and humbled us. We are locked in. We are ready to get to work and the guys are always excited to come in.”
Dallas begins their three-game road trip on Sunday against the Bulls.