Dallas Mavericks: Back to their Winning Ways

Rumors continue to swirl around Dennis Smith Jr. but they haven’t affected his play on the court.
Photo Courtesy: Dominic Ceraldi

By Joel Montgomery

The New Year is imminent, and the Mavericks are starting to bounce back from their 6-game skid that took them out of a playoff spot. With 2019 starting and teams getting ready for the long stretch of the season, it’s time for Dallas to get serious if they want a shot at the postseason:

vs New Orleans Pelicans (12/26) 
The night after Christmas, the Mavs were able to hold off the dominance of Anthony Davis (32 pts, 18 rebs), who had a field day in the paint despite DeAndre Jordan (20 pts, 12 rebs) doing his own work down low on the other side. The Pelicans other key pieces were able to play their usual games, with Jrue Holiday (25 pts, 6 asts) and Julius Randle (23 pts) doing their parts; however, a lack of support from the rest of their starters led to their downfall.
Dallas was able to pull through with a balanced offensive attack. Luka Doncic (21 pts, 9 rebs, 10 asts) had a near triple-double performance as he led the team to the W. J.J. Barea (18 pts, 5 rebs, 7 asts) did his thing as usual providing efficient support off the bench, same with Devin Harris (16 pts).
FINAL: Dallas 122 (16-17), New Orleans 119 (15-20)
@ New Orleans Pelicans (12/28) 
On Friday night, this time visiting Pelicans on their home court, seemed to have some miscommunication on the final play that ultimately led to their defeat. With Dennis Smith Jr. (14 pts) taking a questionable shot on an iso play that didn’t seem to satisfy Luka Doncic (34 pts), who was visibly frustrated at his apparent decoy role on the play. Despite the loss, Dallas this season finally saw some good output out of Dirk Nowitzki, who finished with 11 points in his 11 minutes of playing time. Coach Carlisle is slowly but surely finding a way to integrate Dirk to operate efficiently in this new look team.
Anthony Davis made sure Dallas got their comeuppance with an even more dominating performance this time around (48 pts, 17 rebs). Jrue Holiday (18 pts, 7 rebs, 8 asts) and Julius Randle (22 pts, 12 rebs) had better nights as well leading to their win. While New Orleans didn’t have any other standouts, they had widespread output from the bench.
FINAL: New Orleans 114 (16-20), Dallas 112 (16-18)
vs Oklahoma City Thunder (12/30) 
The Mavericks were able to impress by halting a reeling Thunder team by having a clutch-run late in the 4th quarter. While down 101-95 with under 2 minutes left in the game, Dallas had a last minute surge to pull out the close win against a worthy contending opponent. Luka Doncic (25 pts, 7 asts) led the offense, but it was the redemptive heroics of Dennis Smith Jr. (14 pts) on a go-ahead layup in the final 15 seconds to make up for last game in this win.
OKC got good offensive output from Paul George (36 pts), whose been their catalyst on that side of the ball for the whole start of this season. Russell Westbrook (9 pts, 9 rebs, 8 asts) had probably his worst game of the season so far shooting-wise, going an alarming 4-of-22 from the field. The Thunder have actually been thriving in spite of Westbrook so far this year, so he’ll be hoping to become more efficient before the playoffs roll around.
FINAL: Dallas 105 (17-18), Oklahoma City 103 (22-13)
Grinding back towards a .500 record, Dallas is right in the mix of things in the upcoming battle for playoff seeds. They’ll need to keep their young offensive talent hot, continue to get Dirk back in the swing of things, and keep discipline to the gameplan as they resume their struggle in the tough Western Conference. This week though, the Mavs are taking a road trip as they have some work to do against some of the Eastern Conference’s finest.
Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
12/31 @Thunder   7:00 p.m.
1/2     @ Hornets   6:00 p.m.
1/4     @Celtics       7:00 p.m.
1/5     @Sixers        6:30 p.m.