Dallas Mavericks: At the All-Star Break

Dirk Nowitzki is ready for the All-Star Game festivities. Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch

By Joel Montgomery

The All-Star break is finally here, and the Dallas Mavericks are eager to take this period to replenish their ranks to be able to finish the season strong. With a slew of playoff-eyeing opponents in-tow, here’s how the team wrapped things up going into a weekend of festivities in Charlotte:
 
vs Charlotte Hornets (2/5)
Dallas started a 3-game home stand against the host city of this upcoming All-Star Weekend, with Luka Doncic and company showing up to play with their new former-Knicks teammates making their debuts. 
Luka (19 pts, 10 rebs, 11 asts) notched another triple-double on the season, as he’s getting a lot more accustomed to crossing that threshold rather than coming up short as he did often early in the year. With Doncic asserting lead role, the rest of the team was able to follow suit, as all but one on the active rotation managed 5 or more points. Both Dwight Powell (11 pts, 12 rebs) and Dorian Finney-Smith (15 pts, 10 rebs) got crucial double-doubles that contributed to the win. Tim Hardaway Jr. (12 pts) did well in his Mavs’ debut.
 
Kemba Walker (30 pts, 11 rebs, 6 asts) continued to show out as Charlotte’s one domineering force, which makes the trade rumors all the more questionable. But if the Hornets feel like they can’t go any higher with Walker at the center of their franchise, what will they do next?
 
FINAL: Dallas 99 (25-28), Charlotte 93 (26-28)
 
vs Milwaukee Bucks (2/8)
On Friday night, the Mavs hosted the current top dog of the Eastern Conference in the Bucks, where Giannis and company came in full force with the offensive firepower. Despite some solid offense by Dallas in the 1st and 3rd quarter, they couldn’t keep up with the consistency of Milwaukee’s attack.
 
Luka (20 pts) led in scoring, but couldn’t facilitate and be as much of a presence as he wanted. Trey Burke (18 pts, 5 rebs, 5 asts) had his first standout performace as a Maverick, proving his worth as a scoring asset for the future. Dirk (6 pts) couldn’t really make an assertive mark on the game, but it was notable that he managed to play 18 minutes against one of the league’s top teams. It’s hopeful progress.
 
Giannis Antetokounmpo (29 pts, 16 rebs) performed with his usual dominance, and Brook Lopez (20 pts), Malcom Brogdon (18 pts), and Eric Bledsoe (18 pts) all provided ample support in the scoring department. Even for a great team like the Bucks it was a better-than-normal game, so Dallas can at least salvage that much from the tough loss.
 
FINAL: Milwaukee 122 (41-13), Dallas 107 (25-29)
  
vs Portland Trail Blazers (2/10)
On Sunday, Dallas wrapped up the brief home stint against a fellow conference adversary in Portland where a nail-biter ensued. Despite both teams having a slew of great performances, the Mavs managed to come out on top in the close 1-point victory.
 
Damian Lillard (30 pts) and Jusuf Nurkic (18 pts, 10 rebs) did their things for the Blazers, but the team as a whole completely sunk in the entire 4th quarter; that tends to null good individual performances.
 
Luka (28 pts, 9 rebs, 6 asts) bounced back with a fury as he led the team on their 24-9 run against Portland in the final quarter. Tim Hardaway Jr. (24 pts) showed he’ll have absolutely no problem being a great scoring option for a team that appreciates the role he fills and output he brings.
 
Dallas’ scoring run to close the game in the final quarter was a good showing of the team’s potential as a defensive threat, especially against a great-playoff team such as Portland.
 
FINAL: Dallas 102 (26-29), Portland 101 (33-22)
  
@ Houston Rockets (2/11)
On Monday night, the Mavs traveled down I-45 to take on one of their in-state rivals in the Rockets, who behind James Harden’s scoring tear of historic proportions, are managing to stay near the top half of the conference standings. Harden’s streak of games with 30+ points was able to continue, and Dallas had trouble keeping up with Houston’s overall pace of play.
 
Luka (21 pts, 10 rebs, 8 asts) managed to have a great performance and a near triple-double, but the scoring wasn’t enough on a day everyone else was struggling to be personally satisfying for Doncic. There were times Luka looked clearly gassed during the contest, as it seemed apparent the gauntlet of the 82-game season is finally taking a toll on the electrifying rookie. Thankfully, with the All-Star break here, Luka and the rest of the team will be able to rest and get rid of that built up fatigue. 
 
Harden (31 pts, 8 rebs, 7 asts) did his usual thing as one of the best in the world, and Chris Paul (17 pts, 11 asts) did well as he continues to work his way back into the Rockets’ scheme. Now just waiting for Clint Capela to return, Houston looks eager to enter the postseason with a fully healthy team ready for a chance to do battle with Golden State once more.
 
FINAL: Houston 120 (33-23), Dallas 104 (26-30)
  
vs Miami Heat (2/13)
To wrap things up before the break, the Mavericks hosted their long-storied rival in the Miami Heat. With both teams young and retooled, being completely new slates from when they met in the Finals nearly 8 years ago, they went at it. A strong 3rd quarter by the Heat, outscoring the Mavs 32-16, led to their victory in the end. 
 
Dwyane Wade (22 pts) led Miami in scoring against the team he’s pretty used to battling at this point. Dion Waiters (20 pts) and a double-double by Justise Winslow (11 pts, 11 rebs, 6 asts) rounded out the great backcourt play that kept the Heat’s offense on top.
 
With nearly yet another triple-double, Luka (18 pts, 12 rebs, 9 asts) filled the box score once again, but didn’t get as much opportunity to score as he probably wanted. Tim Hardaway Jr. (20 pts) had yet another great showing, and Dirk (12 pts) performed well in his time off the bench despite the loss. As both superstars of yesteryear are in the farewell seasons of their career, they exchanged jerseys in a heartfelt moment after the game. It’s the end of an era, and we were honored to watch these two battle in some amazing NBA Finals bouts.
 
FINAL: Miami 112 (26-30), Dallas 101 (26-31)
 
Falling a bit behind where they probably want to be, the Mavericks have a very difficult uphill battle to come post-All Star break if they want to have a chance at making the postseason. With not that much time left, the team will need to act fast if they don’t want their season ending early.
 
Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
 
2/14-2/17                 NBA ALL STAR WEEKEND
2/22 vs Nuggets      7:30 p.m.
2/23  @ Jazz            9:00 p.m.