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The Dallas Mavericks dominated the Indiana Pacers 110-101 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on Wednesday night, behind the excellent performances of rookies Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson.
It was a back-and-forth affair – both tied at half-time and a one-point match to end the third quarter – but a four-minute dry spell from the Pacers in the fourth quarter allowed to the Mavs to escape.
Doncic led all scorers with 26 points. The No. 3 overall choice also contributed to 10 rebounds and seven assists, giving him a double double in his last game in adolescence. Brunson was right behind him with 24 points and five assists.
Pacers goaltender Wesley Matthews, who the Mavs traded to the New York Knicks as part of the Kristaps Porzingis blockbuster on January 31, performed well on his return to Dallas with 20 points.
The Mavericks entered the game after being eliminated five times in a row, before the All-Star break, while the Pacers came to Dallas 8-2 in February.
The Doncic-Brunson couple gives the best rookie duo from the NBA Mavericks NBA
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Doncic was 20 on Thursday and her last teen match ended on an exclamation point, as the Slovenian star swung three 30-foot points to score the final points of the match's Mavs. from Wednesday.
While Doncic quickly takes over Dirk Nowitzki as the face of the franchise – and rightly so – second round picks, Brunson proved against the Pacers why his development is just as important as Doncic's if the Mavs want to get back into the race.
Nowitzki pierced two or three in the fourth quarter, for which we will still be there, but it was Brunson and Doncic who ensured that the series of Dallas defeats did not score six games.
A particular part of Wednesday's win will ensure that the Maverick fans will be enthusiastic.
Dallas held a five-point lead with just over a minute of play in the match when Doncic headed for the basket and shot the defenders down. He came to lend a hand to Brunson, who managed to put the game officially out of reach of Indiana.
Brunson and Doncic combined 50 points on 6 of 14 behind the back. On the season, Brunson averaged only 7.5 points, 2.5 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game. That said, the departure of Dennis Smith Jr. for the Knicks clearly shows that Brunson is the playmaker that this offense will cross.
Doncic, meanwhile, has four double doubles as a rookie, becoming the second youngest player in the history of the NBA to record a triple-double behind Markelle Fultz. It will only improve from here, but Dallas can not and does not want to wait for it to do everything.
Prior to Wednesday night's game, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said it was too early to blame Doncic's victories and defeats. Speaking to Stefan Stevenson of Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Cuban put in perspective his franchise:
"We have just got rid of 80% of our starting team, we are trying to teach Luka how to lead a team, and it's a process, sometimes you can let him learn from his mistakes and the keep it out or you can pull it in. And we let it learn from its mistakes, we always want to win every game possible, it's not last year, we were not sure what we had to build. "
The acquisition of Doncic is accompanied by the acquisition of Porzingis in the middle of the season, who would spend the rest of the season while he continues to recover from a torn ACL. Once ready for next season, Cuba expects great things from Doncic and Porzingis, then 24 years old.
The Porzingis business is already bearing fruit by offering a more tangible long-term base in Dallas, although that depends on Porzingis' signing of an extension with the Mavericks, but acquiring the choice of 7 "3" , ex-4th of General 4 almost as without local glue as Doncic and Brunson.
The Pacers will return to Indiana Thursday night to host the Minnesota Timberwolves at 7pm. HE, while the Mavericks have until Saturday before the Memphis Grizzlies arrive in town (tip at 8:30 pm ET).