Mavs’ Richardson: ‘I think we have a lot of talent from the top to the bottom’

In January, the Dallas Mavericks(28-21) went to Utah to play the Jazz(38-12) in a two-game set, and it was not pretty. Dallas was defeated by double-figures in both games, and was down by 20 points or more in both contests.

Two months later, the Jazz traveled to Dallas to battle the Mavericks on Monday, and this time, it was a much different story. Dallas had five players in double figures led by Luka Doncic’s game-high 31 points to go along with nine rebounds and eight assists. Also, Dorian Finney-Smith had a season-high 23 points, and Jalen Brunson added 20 points off the bench as the Mavericks defeated the Jazz 111-103.

Dallas snapped Utah’s nine-game win streak with the win, which was the longest active win streak in the NBA.

“Every win gives you confidence,” Doncic said. “Any NBA team can beat you, so every win gives you confidence. Obviously, this team is first place in the West, and so it is a big win, and we just have to keep rolling like this.”

The Mavericks are rolling right now. They have now won five straight games, marking their longest win streak of the season. Dallas has won those five games by an average of 13.8 points. In addition, the team has won 13 of its last 18 games and 20 of its last 28 games.

“I like what we’re doing,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said after the game. “I like the direction that we’re going. But if you ask the guys in that locker room, they’re going to tell you we haven’t done anything yet; there’s a long way to go here. There’s a lot of ground to make up that we lost early. We’re trying to get into the top six. We’re really not looking at the standings, but we’re just looking game to game.”

Dallas was without their second-leading scorer Kristaps Porzingis(wrist), but without KP, others stepped up and got it done, which speaks to the Mavericks’ depth. Josh Richardson, who had 17 points against the Jazz, discussed how deep Dallas is this season.

“I think we have a lot of talent from the top to the bottom,” he said. “Anytime you got a guy like Tim [Hardaway], JB [Jalen Brunson], Trey [Burke], guys who can shift the whole momentum of a game coming off the bench, and that’s always a big help. I think we have the personal that anybody any night can really hurt you.”

Dallas is getting it done, and hopefully, they can get Porzingis back sooner than later, but for now, they enjoy a big win over the best team in basketball.

Popovich on Luka: ‘His skills are top-notch’

The Dallas Mavericks got out early against the Spurs on Friday night in San Antonio, and because of the greatness of Luka Doncic, they were able to hold the lead and defeat the Spurs 122-117.

Doncic finished the game with a near triple-double and had 36 points, 11 assists, and nine rebounds. Dallas led the Spurs by as many as 18 points in this contest, and led by ten going into the fourth quarter.

However, the Spurs, who lost starting PG Dejounte Murray to a sprained ankle in the first quarter, were able to cut the lead to one late in the fourth, but Doncic hit a beautiful short bank shot to put Dallas up three, and on the next possession, Doncic drove to the lane and passed it out to Jalen Brunson who hit a dagger three to cement the game. 

After the win, Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle talked about Doncic’s playmaking down the stretch of games. 

“It’s clear that Luka has great trust in his teammates,” Carlisle said. “The Denver game was another very close game. Milwaukee game was very close. In those situations, he made the right basketball play, got the ball to his teammates, and his teammates stepping into shots with force and confidence.”

Brunson, who had 16 points against San Antonio, added this about Doncic: “He does a lot for our team, makes a lot of plays for himself and for everybody else. I was ready just in case he wanted to dish it out to me, and I was ready to knock it down.”

Dallas was in the bottom half of the league in terms of winning close games last season. In this game, things got tough down the stretch against San Antonio, and Doncic and the Mavs executed.

“I think the biggest thing is making better decisions,” Doncic said about late game situations. “I think, give up a good shot for a better shot. I think that’s the key.”

Doncic is a stud, and it is a joy to watch when he is at his best. Before the game, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich talked about what makes Doncic so good.

“He is a quintessential basketball player,” Popovich said. “He has an intrinsic feel for the game. He was built for this game… At that size to have that passing ability, that vision of the court. The confidence he plays with. He shoots the ball well. He competes; he’s just in love with the game of basketball, and his skills are top-notch, so he’s just a joy to watch.”

After losing three straight, Dallas has now won two in a row and will go for three consecutive wins at home against the Rockets on Saturday night.

Watch as Pop talks Luka Doncic: