With the scored tied at 92 late in the fourth, it looked like our beloved Knicks were setting us up for another heartbreaker. Ahead 90-77 with 4:48 remaining, New York gave up a 15-2 run and were desperate to regain the momentum. The refs had swallowed their whistles and allowed the Mavs to administer prison ball tactics. Who would be our savior?
Look no further than Jarrett Jack. On the day when his contract was guaranteed for the rest of the season, Jack would use a Porzingis screen to come down a wide open lane to hit a floater to take the lead for good at 94-92. I give Jack a lot of grief on the defensive end, but on this night he was a key contributor, notching 12 points and 8 assists.
NTILIKINA LOCKS IN: The narrative of this game centered around the matchup between Frank and the man the Mavs selected right after him in the draft, Dennis Smith Jr. It was pretty anti-climatic as the two rarely matched up. However, Frank’s stat line in 25 minutes shows how versatile his contributions were (7 pts, 7 rebs, 5 asts, 2 blks). Wait until this kid develops a consistent jump shot. Matter of fact, I hope he was paying close attention to Jack’s floater. He sorely needs that in his repertoire.
PORZINGIS WAKES UP: It appears playing in front his idol Dirk Nowitzki is exactly what the doctor ordered for KP’s recent woes. The league’s favorite unicorn scored 29 points, grabbed 8 boards, and was a perfect 8/8 from the line. But there was a persistent problem on Sunday. KP only shot 9/25, and a big part of that was the refs allowed the Mavs, mainly Wes Matthews, to get very physical without a worry about fouls.
I feel like the word is out that KP is a “soft” player who can’t generate consistent offense under physical play. There is some truth to that as KP hasn’t yet shown the ability to score consistently when guys get up under him. It’s something he needs to counter by working the refs and making quicker decisions with the ball. His late isos on the block and perimeter become easier to guard in crunch time. Luckily, we won’t have to see much more of that when Hardaway is back next week (fingers crossed…).