The Dallas Mavericks were without Luka Doncic for a third straight game due to a sprained ankle. But the Mavericks were able to bounce back to avenge their Saturday loss to the New Orleans Pelicans earlier today. Thanks to a historic performance from Kyrie Irving and Tim Hardaway Jr.
Dallas Mavericks: Duo Make History Without Luka Doncic and Trade Notes
Trailing by seven points midway through the fourth quarter, Dallas outscored New Orleans 19-9 over the last 5:46 to pick up a 125-120 comeback victory. Hardaway drilled two 3-pointers, including one that put the Mavs up for good with 4:16, and the Mavericks went 4-fo-4 from the free throw to secure the victory.
Irving led the way for Dallas with 42 points, while Hardaway finished with 41 points, marking the second time in Mavericks history that teammates scored 40 points. Irving was involved the other time when he and Doncic reached the plateau last March against Philadelphia.
Irving, who has been tremendous over the last five games, connected on 13 of 28 shots from the field, including 3 of 9 from the 3-point line and 13 of 15 from the free throw line. It was Irving’s fifth straight game of 30-plus points and second, 40-point out during this stretch and season. Irving added seven assists.
Meanwhile, Hardaway missed tying his career-high (42) in points and three-pointers (10) with nine. Hardway finished 11 of 25 from the field, 9 of 15 from beyond the arc, and 10 of 10 from the charity stripe. Like Irving, Hardaway has played well recently, scoring at least 24 points for the third straight game.
With the win, Dallas ties the season series with New Orleans at 2-2. The Mavericks fell to the Pelicans 118-108 at home two days ago. The Mavs and Pels combined for more than 226 points in each of the four games, with New Orleans scoring at least 120 points three times and Dallas twice.
The win victory improves Dallas’ record to 3-4 without Doncic. In these seven games, the Mavericks have been outscored by 1.9 points a game (116.1-114.3). Not surprisingly, the Mavs aren’t nearly as good without Doncic as they are with him.
On a positive note, Irving and Hardaway step up their production without Doncic. Irving is averaging 30.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 6.6 assists while shooting 46.5% from the field and 37.8% from the 3-point line in five appearances. Meanwhile, Hardaway compiles 27.3 points on 47.8% shooting from the field and 45.3% from beyond the arc in six games.
Prior to being officially declared out tonight, Doncic was listed as doubtful. But it wasn’t unexpected that the 24-year-old sat out. His next chance to play is when Dallas faces the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.
While Doncic was unable to go, Dereck Lively II did return after sitting out five straight games. Lively contributed six points and 12 rebounds (7 offensive), marking the 10th time the rookie has grabbed double-digit boards.
Dante Exum has missed seven straight games with a heel injury. His status is unknown for Wednesday.
Will The Mavericks Be Buyers At Trade Deadline
After finishing 11th in the Western Conference a year ago, Dallas appears to be a playoff team. The Mavericks are sixth in the conference with a 24-17 record at the NBA halfway point with a +1.7 scoring margin.
Dallas has been very good at home but just average on the road. Defense is a problem for Dallas, and they have 12 10-point losses, which is the second most among teams in the top 10 standings in both conferences. The Mavericks are only 8-13 against teams with a .500 or better record.
Dallas has been looking for upgrades at backup center forward. And HoopsHype, Michael Scotto, on his latest HoopsHype podcast with ESPN’s Bobby Marks, has heard that the Mavericks also want to upgrade forward.
“Certainly, Dallas wants an upgrade at the four slash three, I’ve heard.”
On that end, Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam has been linked to Dallas recently. But there is a strong belief that the Indiana Pacers have the inside track on Sam Vecenie of The Athletic top trade target.
However, The Athletic’s Tim Cato isn’t sure that Dallas will make a move despite saying the front office will definitely make calls to other teams.
The Mavericks aren’t yet a complete team. But while the Dallas front office is certain to explore opportunities to continue improving its roster, it’s just as likely that none arise at this trade deadline, with this summer — when the team should have three first-rounders available to trade — being the likelier opportunity to make its move. If that’s the case, it’s patience that the team will need most.