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Luka Doncic, Mavericks Beat James Harden, Nets 115-98 as Kyrie Irving Rests

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorFebruary 28, 2021

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic shoots during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
John Minchillo/Associated Press

The Dallas Mavericks cruised to a 115-98 road win over the short-handed Brooklyn Nets on Saturday at Barclays Center.

Luka Doncic led six Mavericks who scored in double digits with 27 points on 11-of-21 shooting. That offensive effort helped propel the Mavs' 68-point first half.

The Nets nearly kept pace with 64 points of their own by halftime, but Dallas dominated from there, outscoring Brooklyn 47-34 in the final two quarters.

Mavs big man Kristaps Porzingis returned after missing three games with lower back tightnessand added 18 points for a Dallas team that shot 52.3 percent from the field.

The Nets were without Kevin Durant (left hamstring strain) and Kyrie Irving (right shoulder recovery), and the offense struggled without them. James Harden led Brooklyn with 29 points, but no other Net had more than 12. Brooklyn made just 40.7 percent of its field goals.

The 16-16 Mavericks have won seven of their last nine games, and the 22-13 Nets' eight-game winning streak ended in defeat.

     

Notable Performances

Nets G James Harden: 29 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists

Nets F Jeff Green: 12 points

Nets G/F Joe Harris: 9 points, 7 rebounds

Mavericks G Luka Doncic: 27 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds

Mavericks F/C Kristaps Porzingis: 18 points, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks

Mavericks F Dorian Finney-Smith: 12 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals

     

Luka, KP Put on a Show in Brooklyn

The Mavericks have had their fair share of struggles this year en route to a .500 record, but Saturday they looked more like the team that made last year's postseason and gave the Los Angeles Clippers a tough challenge in Round 1.

Doncic and Porzingis were two big reasons for that, helping the Dallas offense dominate for nearly the entire game.

Dallas Mavericks @dallasmavs

6️⃣ in double figures 📈 Euro-Step Brothers were at it again. https://t.co/42qepcVgg5

Porzingis, who had been out for three games with a back ailment, looked just fine after this dunk.

Dallas Mavericks @dallasmavs

🦄 takes flight https://t.co/UzqgbL6ghT

Doncic soon went to work, nailing this step-back jumper.

Dallas Mavericks @dallasmavs

Signature Luka step-back 🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/HpypGFRlue

He also drew in the defense and kicked it out to Tim Hardaway Jr. for three:

ESPN @espn

True point guard vision from Luka 🎯 https://t.co/rDeXGnXfNP

Sometimes, Doncic took care of business himself, showcasing his phenomenal handles en route to another bucket.

Dallas Mavericks @dallasmavs

Chef Luka 👨‍🍳 https://t.co/OVx8ocB2UP

Dallas' ball movement was crisp all night, and Porzingis ended one excellent sequence with a baseline jumper.

Dallas Mavericks @dallasmavs

Ball movement 💯 https://t.co/kBSLO2y03V

Doncic was once guarded by 6'11" Nic Claxton, but it didn't matter as he got the hoop plus the harm anyway.

Dallas Mavericks @dallasmavs

Big Luka ENERGY 😁 https://t.co/q83QjZYCbE

Dallas was once 9-14 this season, but the Mavs have battled all the way back to a .500 mark. If Doncic and Porzingis stay healthy, a strong second half should be waiting for them on the back end of the ledger.

     

Nothing to Worry About for Nets

The Nets have played three games without two of their three All-Stars since Harden was traded to Brooklyn from Houston in mid-January.

One game resulted in a fantastic comeback win over the Phoenix Suns in which the Nets were down 24 points on the road. The other finished with the Philadelphia 76ers encountering little trouble in a 124-108 home win.

The third game happened Saturday, and Brooklyn simply didn't have the firepower to keep pace with Dallas.

There really isn't much to be upset about after this loss, even if it was noncompetitive in the fourth quarter.

Yes, Dallas did whatever it wanted on offense, and yes, the Nets offense was poor in the second half. But this obviously isn't the team that the Nets will send out for games that matter the most come the spring and summer.

Durant, Irving and Harden will all hopefully be healthy in the postseason, which means they'll resume effortlessly dropping 120-plus points per game.

Plus, the Nets didn't lose any ground in the standings to the first-place 76ers. Things are a bit rougher Saturday if you shoot down I-95, as Philadelphia lost 112-109 at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers in overtime. The 13-21 Cavs are languishing near the bottom of the Eastern Conference table.

While the 76ers were without Tobias Harris (right knee contusion), they still had All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and couldn't get the job done despite a monster night from Embiid.

That's the type of loss that should concern a team moving forward. As for this Nets loss, it ultimately doesn't mean much of anything. The important thing is to get everyone back healthy and continue building on the momentum created from the recent eight-game winning streak.

     

What's Next?

Both teams will play road games Monday.

The Nets will visit the San Antonio Spurs at 8:30 p.m. ET at AT&T Center, and the Mavs will play the Orlando Magic at 7 p.m. at Amway Center.

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