DALLAS – With the chance to clinch a playoff spot entering Friday’s matchup, the Dallas Maverick got the job done with a 114-110 win over the Toronto Raptors.
“Getting a win is important,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “It solidified either a six- or a five-spot, depending on what happens on Sunday. And avoiding the play-in (tournament) is significant.”
Without Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Kyle Lowry, Gary Trent Jr., or O.G. Anunoby, the Raptors were light on key players but nearly overcame being short-handed. The two top scorers in this outing featured Jalen Harris (31) and Malachi Flynn (26) but a team effort put the Mavericks over the top in this one.
Toronto held their own in the first quarter as the Mavericks led 31-26 through the initial frame. In fact, the Raptors even came within one-point early in the second frame at the 10:04 mark.
While the opposite is almost always the case, the Mavericks managed to do their best work with Luka Doncic on the sidelines in the first half. In fact, Dallas caught fire from deep and produced a staggering 21-5 run in the second quarter while he was on the bench.
Perimeter shooting was a critical element to the Mavericks’ early success. Dallas went 13-of-24 (52.2%) from deep and more than doubled up the Raptors in makes. Doncic made it a point to get his teammates involved, particularly from the perimeter. He recorded 8 assists during this stretch with all of them being for made three-pointers.
After exceeding the 30-point mark in each of the game’s first two quarters, the Mavericks held a 66-52 advantage at halftime. The hot offensive results certainly did not last for Dallas as they failed to reach the same 30-point mark in any of the remaining two frames.
Facing sluggish execution on offense throughout the third quarter, the Mavericks still managed to hold a double-figure lead for much of this stretch. It wasn’t until the Raptors put together a 6-0 run to close the third quarter that this became a single-digit contest again.
The Mavericks’ underwhelming offensive execution carried over into the fourth quarter – resulting in a game-low 22 points within the frame. All Dallas had to was maintain their lead and they did so…but not without a few close calls down the stretch.
Toronto stayed within striking distance as the final period went on. However, Dorian Finney-Smith shifted the momentum – coming up big on multiple corner three-pointers. Additionally, Doncic seemed to have put the game out of reach when he got downhill coming off a ball screen and capped off his drive with a one-hand slam…which wasn’t quite the case.
Despite extending their lead to 110-102 with under two-minutes to go, the Mavericks had another close call left in them. After scoring 6 consecutive points, the Raptors cut the deficit they faced to just two-points with 4.9 seconds left to play and Dallas had the ball coming out of the timeout.
Josh Richardson was fouled upon making the catch and converted on both of his free throw attempts. Dallas led 114-110 with only 3.9 seconds to play – putting the game out of reach, once and for all.
Doncic finished his outing with a triple-double as he recorded 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists. Both he and Tim Hardaway Jr. sorely struggled to convert from the perimeter as they each went 1-of-8 (12.5%) from deep.
Much of the Mavericks’ roster more than made up for the off shooting night of their top two options. In fact, the rest of Dallas’ roster went 15-of-26 (57.7%) from deep.
It was a truly balanced scoring outing for the Mavericks with five players exceeding the double-figure threshold. Kristaps Porzingis (21) led the way while Jalen Brunson (19), Dorian Finney-Smith (17), and Josh Richardson (10) each achieved this, too.
By winning this game, the Mavericks will avoid having to participate in the NBA play-in tournament. Dallas will either hold the fifth or sixth seed in the Western Conference depending on how the final game of the season goes for them and the Portland Trail Blazers.
To end the regular season, the Dallas Mavericks return on Sunday to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center.
“I remember that tough stretch when we were like in the 12th or 13th spot,” said Doncic of Dallas’ early-February situation. “Everybody had us out of the playoff, but now we’ve made the playoff and we’re going to have a couple of days off.
“That’s what we needed.”