The Fast Break: Mavs at Clippers

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Final: Clippers 119, Mavs 98

Box Score | Highlights

Notebook

  • Dennis Smith Jr. looked much more aggressive tonight than he did the other night in Utah, which was good to see. It’s always important to keep in mind that he’s only 19, he’s only a rookie, and he’s playing the most difficult position in the the NBA. For those reasons and more, he’s going to go through some ups and downs. That game in Utah was certainly not his best work, but from an individual standpoint he played much better in this one. Developing consistency is one of the toughest steps any player will ever take in this league. If Smith can provide the same level of production and intensity every single night, he could be a special player. Of course team results matter a lot more in this league than individual stat lines, but if Smith keeps playing the way he did tonight, it could help lead to a better win-loss record for his team.
  • A few flashes Smith showed tonight that could benefit him and the team in future games…

    First, he’s obviously got a lot of physical talent. You’d love to see him play within the system when possible, but sometimes it’s OK for him to just put his head down in transition, make one little move, and get to the basket. (He drew a foul on this play.)

    Next, here’s Smith playing within the aforementioned system in a pick-and-roll with Dirk Nowitzki. When playing center, Dirk can pull big guys all the way out to the perimeter, which leaves gaping driving lanes for the ball-handler to exploit. Smith turned the corner in this sequence and made a nice highlight-reel play.

    Most big men simply aren’t quick enough to stay in front of him, so he’s got to show that he can hit pull-up jumpers against switched bigs otherwise they can just back way off him and force long shots. I like how Smith played this one-on-one situation against DeAndre Jordan. The rookie forced the switch and then settled into the 3-pointer in no hurry at all.

    Those three areas are going to be huuuuge for him as a scorer. Can he push it in transition? Can he attack the basket? And when big men back way off, can he punish them with jumpers? Smith had it all going tonight, especially in the first couple quarters, and it was a lot of fun to watch.

  • Devin Harris got the start for the Mavs, just his fourth start since returning to Dallas in 2013-14. Rick Carlisle has tried anything and everything to help his team get off to better starts, and inserting Harris into the starting lineup appeared to pay off early, as Dallas roared out to an 18-10 lead after just four minutes. It’ll be interesting to see who begins the game on Friday against a Pelicans team featuring two giants in Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Lately Nerlens Noel has started alongside Dirk against more traditional two-big lineups, so he might be leaning that way again. We’ll see.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (1-8) will play the New Orleans Pelicans (3-5) on Friday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.

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