The Dallas Mavericks finally got back on the court on Monday, and they played liked they never left. Behind strong defense and a big-time performance from Tim Hardaway Jr., who scored a game-high 29 points off the bench, the Mavericks defeated Memphis at home 102-92.
Dallas had not played since February 14 after two games were canceled due to severe weather hit Texas last week.
The defense set the tone for the Mavericks early in the game. Dallas held Memphis to 13 points in the first quarter, tying a season-low in points allowed in any quarter this season.
“That was one of our best defensive games of the year, and that was great to see,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said after the game. “I just thought we had a real presence from the beginning. The ending was not what we wanted. You want to close out games better than that, but we talked about it a little bit afterwards, and we just have to concentrate a little bit better.”
During their short break, Carlisle and the team worked on their defense, which he discussed after the game.
“It was a long wait,” he said. “It was probably the longest stretch between games ever in the NBA. I don’t even know if any COVID teams have had an eight-day break, but I may be wrong. It is a long time. Our practices worked out well this week, and it was clear that our guys were anxious to get out on the floor and compete. The work that we put into defense this week, I thought, paid off tonight. It is all about being able to sustain.”
Hardaway Jr. gave Dallas a big boost off the bench against Memphis, and he contributed 20 of his 29 points(7-11 three-point range) in the first half; the Mavericks improved to 6-1 when Hardaway Jr. goes for 20+ points and a perfect 3-0 when he hits 25+ points.
“I’ve said previously before when I see one or two go in; it’s pretty much an ocean for me, I feel like,” Hardaway Jr. said. “The game just comes naturally, and I just really pride myself in being one of our top shooters. When I check into the game, I just want to be that sparkplug for the team, anyway, shape or form I can, and just make sure I bring that attitude.”
Boston comes to town on Tuesday night, which won’t be an easy task for Dallas. The Mavericks are 5-2 on their current homestand and have a chance to get to .500 with a win over the Celtics.
-Luka Dončić recorded 21 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, marking the first game without 25+ points in his last 15 games. Now finished, Dončić’s streak of 14 consecutive games with 25+ points stands as the longest streak in franchise history and the second-longest streak in the NBA this season, behind Bradley Beal’s streak of 17 consecutive games with 25+ points.
• Kristaps Porzingis (lower back soreness) missed tonight’s game and Maxi Kleber (left ankle sprain) left the game in the fourth quarter and did not return.