Resilience best characterizes the Dallas Mavericks’ 103-95 bounce-back win over the Toronto Raptors Saturday night.
With Dallas facing the proposition of ending the first road trip of the season winless and trailing big through a majority of the first half, the Mavericks put together a 12-0 third-quarter run, which spurred the team on to the eventual and impressive comeback win.
“It’s a 48-minute game,” Kidd said after the game. “You don’t lose the game in the first three minutes or the first six minutes, and it just showed early in the season. We were tested in Atlanta, and we didn’t respond well, but the guys responded well tonight.
“It’s hard to win in this league. To win on the road is big. You’re not given the win by showing up. You got to play the game.”
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) October 24, 2021
The second half effort:
In the driver’s seat during the Mavericks’ red-hot third quarter was Tim Hardaway Jr., who went 3-3 from 3-point range after struggling to find his rhythm through the first half. His third-quarter hot streak carried over to the fourth, where he scored 13 of his 25 total points for the game.
Driving his hot hand was his will and want to respond to adversity in the way he didn’t during the regular-season opener against Atlanta. In that game, on Thursday, Dallas went down big early and never fought back. Against Toronto, Hardaway wasn’t going to let it happen again.
“We were in this situation before, two days ago,” Hardaway said. “I just want to come out and have a really really great third quarter.”
Hardaway’s copilot in steering the second-half comeback was none other than Luka Dončić. After playing deferential for the first 24 minutes of game time, Dončić asserted himself through the third and fourth quarter, scoring 16 of his team-high 27 points in the second half.
Through an array of offensive moves and a commitment to running in transition, Dončić found the comfort on the floor that eluded him against Atlanta.
“In the second half we picked it up, unlike the first game,” Dončić said. “That was the key. In the first game, we didn’t make shots; our energy wasn’t there. Today we stayed together and we pushed each other. That was the key to the win.”
As for Dončić’s offensive burst in the second half, he attributes it to the committed team defense Dallas played in the third quarter.
“From defense, we went to offense,” he said. “That is the best game plan you can have.”
The game by the numbers:
Hardaway’s 25 points were an early indicator of success for Dallas. Last season, Dallas went 13-5 when he scored at least 20 points in a contest. And when he scored at least 25 points, Dallas went 7-2. Additionally, when he made seven or more 3-pointers Dallas was 5-1. This year, Dallas is 1-0 when Hardaway performs at a high level.
“Shooters shoot,” he said after Saturday’s game.
Tim Hardaway Jr. went 7-of-11 from deep en route to scoring 25 points in tonight’s win at Toronto. The Mavs were 13-5 last season when Hardaway Jr. tallied 20+ points, including 7-2 when he went for 25-or-more. Dallas was also 5-1 last season when he connected on 7+ 3FG. pic.twitter.com/Pf80thizNR
— Mavs PR (@MavsPR) October 24, 2021
Dončić finished one rebound shy of a triple-double, marking the 15th game he’s done so in his career. It would have been fitting for Kidd to win his first game and the Mavericks point guard register a triple-double, but both are just happy to record the win.
Kristaps Porzingis struggled shooting the ball (7-20 from the field), but he found ways to impact the game on the defensive end. He recorded four blocks and 10 rebounds, and after the game, he made it known that he wants to affect the action on the floor at all levels – not just offensively.
“I am trying to be a presence,” Porzingis said. “I am able to help my teammates [by] blocking shots and just contesting shots. I am trying to be as good as I can [be].”
Dallas enjoys a few days off before playing the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night. Splitting the first road trip on the year wasn’t the ideal position Dallas wanted to be in, but it gave this team an opportunity to learn about each other. Dropping game one of the regular season to Atlanta hurt, but the resilience shown in coming back against the Raptors inspires hope that things will be different than years prior.
“Great teams don’t have two bad games,” Hardaway said. “We just want to make sure that we finish strong and play hard on both ends of the floor.”
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Feature image via Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports.