DALLAS – Despite no Luka Doncic for the second straight game, the Dallas Mavericks finally found some semblance of an offensive rhythm against the Charlotte Hornets Monday night.

What, on the surface, looks like a rudimentary 120-96 blowout by Dallas realistically marks a linchpin offensive moment for this team.

“This was a fun game to be a part of,” Kristaps Porzingis said after the game. “Everyone brought it.”

It’s no secret to those who have watched, Dallas’ shooting has been the team’s Achilles heel all season. The team’s 32.5 percent from three on the season is bad enough for 28th in the league. The teams behind Dallas are Detroit and Oklahoma City, who have a combined 12 wins.

From the floor, things are no different. Dallas is shooting 44 percent on field-goal attempts. That is good enough for 22nd in the league. All the teams ranked behind Dallas are .500 or worse on the year.

Against Charlotte, Dallas (14-13) finally found its groove, shooting 46 percent from three and 51 percent from the floor. The win granted Dallas a glimpse at what this offense was supposed to be when the season started in October.

Kristaps Porzingis’ offensive onslaught

Part of Dallas’ big offensive night was tied to Porzingis’ offensive production. For the game, he tallied 24 points and 13 rebounds on 7-16 from the field.

Though Porzingis slowed down in the second half, it did not matter because his first two quarters of action set the tone for the rest of the team to follow.

“I felt good,” Porzingis said. “It was a good night for us. I started off shooting really well and it carried over to everybody.

“We are playing free out there.”

It was clear from the opening tip that Porzingis was looking for his offense. Through a series of cuts and duck-ins around the basket, he got going. From there, he worked his way out to the perimeter — the rest was history.

It’s scary how good Porzingis can be for stretches during a game. What other 7-footer puts the ball on the floor constantly and has no fear of shooting from anywhere? The list isn’t long.

The defensive effort complemented the offensive production

Outside of shooting the ball well, Dallas managed to translate the offensive effort to the defensive end of the floor.

Charlotte was held to 39 percent from the field and 35 percent from three. This was a team that, coming into Monday night, was the No. 1 ranked 3-point shooting percentage team in the NBA (38.4 percent).

Dallas prioritized making Charlotte uncomfortable, collecting eight blocks — five of which came by way of Porzingis — and four steals throughout the game.

One sequence that highlighted Dallas’ defensive effort was when Porzingis contested and blocked a push-shot attempt by Charlotte. That block then turned into a fastbreak lob dunk for Porzingis on the offensive end.

 

When Dallas defends at a high level, transition opportunities almost throw themselves at this team. Not all nights are going to be like Monday night, offensively, for Dallas. However, what can carry over is defensive effort. That doesn’t require 3-point shots to fall, it just needs all five guys on the floor to buy into what needs to be done.

“When the ball moves on offense, it trickles down to our defense,” Dorian Finney-Smith said. “We did a good job of helping each other.”

The recipe for success 

After Dallas’ win over Oklahoma City, we discussed the recipe for sustainable success with the roster’s current construction. On the second night of a back-to-back, Dallas followed that recipe to the letter while also providing perimeter shot-making.

The Mavericks owned the rebounding battle throughout the game (50-38 in Dallas’ favor). Dallas also owned the assist battle with 28.

Everyone got involved offensively. Dallas had five double-digit scorers — two of which came off the bench. This time, the bench tandem was Trey Burke (22 points) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (19 points).

Two games aren’t enough to say I told you so, but they do indicate a positive trend. To win, Dallas needs to touch the paint — playing inside out. The Mavericks started the game going downhill, so it’s not surprising that outside looks opened up because of that approach.

 Looking ahead

Dominating against Oklahoma City and Charlotte is one thing. Dallas has to bring the same level of effort against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.

In terms of record, Dallas and the Lakers somewhat mirror each other. Both teams are hovering around .500. And both teams are still searching for an identity. But if Dallas comes out with the same energy it had against the past two opponents, things could be heading in the right direction.

“This should be one of our prototype games as far as how we come out and the energy that we come out with because that’s been the issue of not only this year but last year as well,” Burke said. “We’ve got to come out with the energy we did tonight and we’d give ourselves a chance every night.”

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Feature image via Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports