1. PORZINGIS IS OBVIOUSLY MENTALLY STRONG: You’ve got to take your hat off to forward Kristaps Porzingis after what he experienced in this game. I’ve been covering sports in many basketball arenas, football stadiums and baseball parks, etc., for nearly 45 years, and I’ve never heard a player insulted and vilified the way Porzingis was at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night. It was relentless criticism all night long – from the pregame warmups and even to when the Mavs’ bus was driving away from the Garden after the game. (I refuse to repeat the vile language the fans used, for obvious reasons). Somehow, through all of that madness, Porzingis blocked it all out and collected his second double-double of the season as he finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds, and also blocked three shots. And he managed some wry smiles during his postgame interview session.
2. DONCIC CONTINUES TO ROLL: A day after coach Rick Carlisle declared Luka Doncic as “one of the best players on the planet,” Doncic went out and produced another one of those out of this world games. With his NBA-high fifth triple double of the year, Doncic had 33 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, and also added three steals. But it was what he did in the third quarter that literally took the fans’ breath away. During a brief 65-second span, the game went like this: Doncic hits a 27-foot 3-pointer, Doncic connects on a 27-foot 3-pointer, Doncic buries a 26-foot 3-pointer. It was a wild sequence straight out of an NBA 2K video game. Afterwards, Knicks coach David Fizdale was so impressed with Doncic that he said: “He’s going to push Dirk (Nowitzki) for the greatest European player to ever play this game when it’s all said and done.”
3. REBOUNDING HURT THE MAVS: Coach Rick Carlisle said, other than the final score, the most decisive statistic that stood out to him in this game was the rebounding differential. The Knicks won that battle by nine (53-44). That includes a 15-12 advantage on the offensive end. And that led to the Knicks outscoring the Mavs in second-chance points, 29-23. Obviously if those second-chance points were reversed, the Mavs would have gotten out of town with a victory. Ironically, when the Knicks beat the Mavs in Dallas last Friday, New York also won that rebounding matchup by nine boards (56-47). That includes doubling up the Mavs on the offensive end of the glass by a 14-7 count.
4. GAME TOOK ON A PLAYOFF-LIKE ATMOSPHERE: A huge positive that resulted from all the extremely loud noise that engulfed Madison Square Garden was pointed out afterwards by coach Rick Carlisle. “I’ve been coming here a long time,” Carlisle said. “Nothing surprises me in here. It was what it was. I thought it was a great opportunity for a young team that has playoff aspirations to learn about this kind of environment, because this was a playoff game in terms of intensity, crowd involvement, all those kinds of things — as was the game Monday night in Boston. Both were tough games for us.” In other words, playing on the road in the playoffs is akin to trying to swim through shark-infested waters. Thursday night, the Mavs were obviously playing in some shark-infested waters.
5. THREE-POINT SHOOTING: The Mavs continued to fire away from long distance Thursday night, but they didn’t shoot the ball very well from 3-point range. Overall, the Mavs were just 8-of-36 from beyond the 3-point arc for a mere 22.2 percent. By contrast, inside the 3-point line the Mavs were a very respectable 28-of-48 from the field for a very healthy 58.3 percent. This followed a similar pattern from Monday’s 116-106 loss in Boston. In that game the Mavs were a frosty 11-of-42 from behind the 3-point line for 26.2 percent, yet were a terrific 26-of-47 from 2-point range for a brisk 55.3 percent. Obviously, 3-point shooting a big part of the Mavs’ repertoire. They just have to find a way to increase their productivity from long distance. That way it’ll increase their chances of winning more games.