Dallas Mavericks: Back on Bottom of the Division

Mavericks PF Maxi Kleber rose to the occasion against the Rockets with a double-double. Photo Courtesy: Dominic Ceraldi

By Joel Montgomery

With the regular season wrapping up, the Dallas Mavericks continue to develop their young core to prepare for next year’s hopeful big break. With rumors now starting to swirl that the Mavericks are a “real threat” to make a play at Hornets PG Kemba Walker (via The Charlotte Observer), could Dallas form the league’s newest Big 3?
 
@ Washington Wizards (3/6)
Dallas began their week traveling to the capital, taking on an equal opponent who was also missing a star for the remainder of the season in John Wall. With the Wizards not having any certainty on their future, being tied by some complicated contracts, for now they’re playing in a quandary unlike the rest of the league. This wasn’t enough to prevent them from beating out the Mavs however, as star Bradley Beal (30 pts, 7 rebs, 8 asts) and Trevor Ariza (22 pts, 6 rebs) managed to score in droves, and even newest acquisition Jabari Parker (20 pts, 9 rebs) was able to get in on the fun, as it was overall a big offensive night for Washington.
 
In this offensive shootout, Dallas did have some standout performances despite the loss. Luka Doncic (31 pts, 11 rebs, 7 asts) had a great outing, as has come to be expected on a nightly basis from Doncic. He continues to be one of the most exciting young players in the league. Dwight Powell (26 pts, 10 rebs) performed solidly with his starter minutes, resuming his uptrend of development. Newest team member Justin Jackson (18 pts, 5 rebs) had his first significant outing as a Maverick, showing potential to be yet another reliable role player.
 
FINAL: Washington 132 (27-37), Dallas 123 (27-37)
 
@ Orlando Magic (3/8)
The Mavs traveled to Orlando to take on another retooling East team in the Magic on Friday night. And just like the Wizards, they came prepared, with balanced offense across the board.
 
Nikola Vucevic (20 pts, 13 rebs, 6 asts) dominated the paint while Terrence Ross (22 pts) led in scoring. With six players scoring in double digits and a 29-19 advantage after the 1st quarter, Orlando kept the lead and held it throughout.
 
Luka (24 pts, 8 rebs, 5 asts) manned the front for Dallas, and Jalen Brunson (18 pts, 9 asts) had a great game in both scoring and distributing. Despite the loss, it’s always good to see the rookies performing well and beyond expectations.
 
FINAL: Orlando 111 (31-36), Dallas 106 (27-38)
 
vs Houston Rockets (3/10)
Coming back home to face an in-state rival, the Mavs wanted to show out big against a contending squad in the Rockets. It was a close, rough, defensive-oriented bout. In the end though, Houston barely made it over the top.
 
James Harden (20 pts, 5 rebs) was held to one of his lowest scoring performances of the entire season, and was actually not Houston’s primary scorer in a blue-moon instance. That accolade goes to Eric Gordon (26 pts), who led the team, and Clint Capela (17 pts, 12 rebs) who was all over the boards. Chris Paul (9 pts, 9 asts) was restrained to a distributor role in his 33 minutes.
 
Luka (19 pts, 15 rebs, 9 asts) had a great stat-stuffing night, but not without a little scare, as Doncic felt a ‘pop’ in his knee, for now labeled as a mild knee strain. Brunson (18 pts, 7 rebs) performed amply yet again, and Maxi Kleber (10 pts, 11 rebs) earned a coveted double-double. 
 
In a gritty game fought to the end, a late charge by Dallas couldn’t bring them all the way back. It was a great contest though in what will surely be great experience for the young Mavs squad.
 
FINAL: Houston 94 (41-25), Dallas 93 (27-39)
 
With a few injury frights here and there, Dallas might be thinking about sitting Doncic for the final part of the season. Will the Mavericks play things safe and get ready for next season, or risk it for the biscuit and get some final doses of regular season experience and grind for the youthful franchise? Stay tuned…
 
Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
3/12 vs Spurs           7:00 p.m.
3/14 @ Nuggets      9:30 p.m.
3/16 vs Cavaliers     7:30 p.m.