For nearly three and a half quarters Sunday night, the Dallas Mavericks looked dead in the San Fransico Bay waters.

Spencer Dinwiddie must have been a lifeguard because he came to the team’s rescue when Dallas was down 21 points by the fourth quarter. Behind his play, Dallas won in come-from-behind fashion over the Golden State Warriors 107-101.

“There is no quit in this team,” Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd said. “Spencer was big for us… He just knows how to win.”

Where Dinwiddie made his scoring presence felt was in Dallas’ blistering 23-1 fourth-quarter run. He tallied 10 of his 24 points in the final frame. And between big-time 3-pointers and forrays to the rim, Dallas offered a glimpse at a prospective three-guard lineup between Luka Doncic, Jalen Brunson and Dinwiddie that may cause problems in a seven-game playoff series.

“I knew he can score the ball,” Doncic, who scored 34 points, said. “You can see that he’s a baller. We are just glad to have him.”

Dinwiddie’s production shouldn’t be a surprise

With Brunson and Doncic, Dallas had good creators. But with Dinwiddie added to the mix, the options are plentiful.

“We’ll use it a lot,” Kidd said of the three-guard lineup. “I want to make sure we have ball handlers out there.”

After the game, Dorian Finney-Smith eluded to Dinwiddie’s production in the three-guard lineup as him being the player he was in Brooklyn. When Dinwiddie arrived in Dallas, he explained how his lack of production early in the season was due to him returning to play sooner than he needed to. He’s always thought of the game as a team-first event. And as a result, he’s averaging 22 points in the last two games.

“Luka and JB are the first and second playmakers,” Dinwiddie said. “I have a cheat sheet. It makes it simpler out there for me.”

With stability in his knee and endearing confidence in his own game, Dinwiddie adds a refreshing wrinkle to what felt like a tapped-out Mavericks team. Yes, Dallas objectively got worse in giving up Kristaps Porzingis. But Dinwiddie is a move for the future, who just so happens to be giving his best now.

“Everyone is doing their job,” Dinwiddie said.

What the comeback means 

Dallas coming back from 21 points down registers as the team’s largest comeback of the season. The previous largest comeback win was against San Antonio, on Oct. 28, where Dallas came back from a 20-point deficit.

The driving factor in Sunday night’s comeback was Dinwiddie, but behind that was also the defense. In the fourth quarter, the Mavericks held the Warriors to 13 points. Yes, you read that right.

It’s hard to imagine a Mavericks team holding Steph Curry and his bunch to barely over 10 points, but it happened. And it speaks volumes to how well Dallas has defended since the start of January.

It’s no surprise that since Jan. 1, Dallas holds the second-best defensive rating in the league (105.5). The only team better than the Mavericks during that stretch is the Boston Celtics.

Winning with defense isn’t pretty, but Dinwiddie’s offensively explosion provided a silver lining to what, at one point, looked like a bleak outcome Sunday night. And at this point in the season, a win is a win — regardless of how it looks.

Related Dallas Mavericks reading

“Mavericks: Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans shine in playoff-like loss to Utah.” 
“Mavericks: The late-stretch run is about staying cool when things don’t go right.” 
“Three ways the Dallas Mavericks gets better after the All-Star break.” 

Feature image via  Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports.