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Dallas Mavericks grab win in season opener

by Tyler Lennon

The Dallas Mavericks hosted the Houston Rockets Tuesday for their home opener. After splitting their first two games with with the Atlanta Hawks and the Toronto Raptors, the Mavericks were hoping to defend their home court and get above .500 for the first time this year.

The Mavericks got off to a bit of a slow start in the early going, taking a while to find their offense. Back up big man Boban Marjanovic came in and provided seven quick points off the bench, helping tie things up at 22-22. Houston finished out the frame strong, however, taking a 31-27 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Reggie Bullock provided a spark for the Mavericks to start the second quarter. Bullock came in and scored eight quick points on a jumper and a pair of 3-pointers to pace the Dallas offense in the second frame. Maxi Kleber followed up with a pair of 3-pointers of his own and the Mavericks led as much as 55-50, before the Rockets took over to finish the half, leading 60-57 at the end of the first half.

Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic got off to an incredible start in the third quarter, scoring or assisting on five plays in the first few minutes. Doncic had 10 points, three assists and three rebounds in the frame, as Dallas built a three-point lead heading into the final frame. 

The combination of Bullock and Marjanovic carried the Mavericks to open the final frame, scoring on the first five baskets of the quarter for Dallas, helping them extend their lead to 103-92. Dallas was able to cruise from that point on, winning the game by a final score of 116-106.

Doncic once again paced the way for the Mavericks, finishing with a game-high 26 points, as well as 14 rebounds and seven assists. Shooting just 10-25 from the field and 1-6 from three, it wasn’t a great performance, but he was still able to lead the Mavericks to a 10-point win.

The breakout performance for Dallas came from Bullock, who had 16 points in just 17 minutes of action. The newly acquired small forward made six of his 11 attempts and shot 4-9 from behind the 3-point line. 

“It’s one of the reasons I was brought here, to shoot the ball. It was good. It was a great confidence builder to be able to get some shots going in front of fans tonight,” Bullock said. “The fans were in the stadium supporting tonight so it was good to get some shots going.”

Fans wondered what Bullock’s role would be and have been asking for him to get more minutes, especially after last night’s performance, but Bullock feels confident that the coaching staff knows what his role is.

“The know exactly what my role is. As coaches, they know exactly what I bring to the team,” Bullock said. “So it is all about finding my groove, finding my shots, knowing where those will come from every night and playing active on the defensive end. I know what I am capable of and I just need to be aggressive and knock down shots.”

Marjanovic also had a great performance as well, scoring 11 points and grabbing four rebounds in just nine minutes. Marjanovic is now tied for third place all-time for most times scoring 10 or more points while playing 11 minutes or less.

One big takeaway from the game was Kristaps Porzingis, who not only struggled but also was unable to finish the game. He left during the third quarter with back tightness and never returned, although head coach Jason Kidd did not seem too concerned with his status.

“He is fine, we just held him so we’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” Kidd said. Porzingis logged 20 minutes in the home opener, scoring just nine points and grabbing just three rebounds while shooting 2-10 from the field and making just one of his four 3-point attempts. 

As a team the Mavericks struggled with the long ball, shooting 27.9% and making 12 of their 43 attempts. Outside of Bullock and Kleber, who shot a combined 7-13, the rest of the team went 5-30. Even with the poor shooting performance and an off night from Porzingis, the Mavericks still got the win and improved to 2-1 on the season.

They will look to push their winning streak to three games when they host the San Antonio Spurs Thursday. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. and coverage of the game will be published Friday.

By Tyler Lennon

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