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Wednesday, October 5, 2022
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Mavericks get Much-Needed Win over the Philadelphia 76ers

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Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) shouts to officials to bring a crooked rim to their attention during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers in Dallas, February 4, 2022. | Image by Tony Gutierrez, AP Photo

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Friday night at the American Airlines Center was memorable for many reasons. The Dallas Mavericks trailed by as many as 16 points to the Philadelphia 76ers but still came back to win 107-98. 

It was a much-needed win for the Mavericks (30-23), who were entering the game having lost their previous two games against opponents near the bottom of the NBA standings. The 76ers (31-21) are currently in fifth place in the Eastern Conference and led by center Joel Embiid, who has been having an MVP caliber season.  

Luka Doncic was named an NBA All-Star earlier this week, and he showed why. He was superb, finishing with 33 points, 13 rebounds, and 15 assists for his 44th career triple-double. With that mark, the 22-year-old Doncic has passed Lafayette “Fat” Lever for the 10th most career triple-doubles in NBA history.

Despite the much-needed come-from-behind win and the historic accomplishment by Doncic, what will perhaps be the most memorable moment of the night occurred around the halfway point of the first quarter. 

After Doncic made a three-point shot to narrow an early Dallas deficit to 19-17, he immediately began waving his arms in the air in an attempt to capture the attention of officials. What prompted this action from Doncic? The rim on the hoop he just scored on was crooked.

Officials stopped the game and tried multiple remedies to fix the crooked rim. Arena workers brought a ladder, tape measure, and level. The Mavericks Boban Marjanovic, who is 7’4″, even attempted to straighten the rim by hanging on it. 

Eventually, arena workers concluded that the rim was broken, and the entire hoop needed to be replaced. A brand-new hoop ‒ stanchion, backboard, rim, and all, was wheeled onto the court. By the time workers finished setting up the new hoop and the players had a five-minute warmup, 44 minutes had elapsed since the last basketball action. 

For a game that tipped off at 9 p.m. local time, the delay led to an even later than anticipated finish. 

When action resumed, the 76ers caught fire and immediately went on an 8-0 run to extend their lead to 26-17. In contrast, the Mavericks went cold, missing their first ten shot attempts after the delay. After one quarter, the 76ers held a 33-24 lead. 

The cold shooting streak for Dallas extended into the second quarter, allowing Philadelphia to open a 16-point lead. It was not until halfway through the second quarter that the Mavericks began to show some signs of life, narrowing their deficit to 63-53 at halftime.

The game flipped in favor of Dallas in the third quarter. Doncic had 11 points in the frame alone, and the Mavericks outscored the 76ers 32-15 to take an 85-78 lead into the final quarter. 

The Dallas defense was a significant part of the turnaround. Head coach Jason Kidd flipped the team into a zone defense after halftime, and it had a considerable effect. 

At halftime, the 76ers Embiid had 18 points and seemed poised to have an MVP performance, which is typical for him. However, facing the zone, Embiid managed only nine points in the second half. As a whole, the 76ers only scored 35 points after halftime, after scoring 63 in the first half. 

Philadelphia did not go away that easy, however. They opened the fourth quarter on an 11-0 run to retake an 89-85 lead with eight minutes remaining in the game. However, Doncic would not let the Maverick victory be denied. 

Doncic battled for a tough offensive rebound in the last few minutes and kicked the ball out to Reggie Bullock, who connected on a three-pointer. That was one of two crucial three-pointers from Bullock in the last minutes of the game that helped hold off the 76ers. Bullock finished as the second-leading scorer on the team with 20 points.

Doncic converted a basket on an ensuing possession while being fouled, allowing him to add a free throw and seal the win. Fans in attendance began serenading Doncic with “MVP” chants.

Doncic indeed had an MVP caliber performance, leading the team in points, rebounds, and assists. He has now finished a game with at least 30 points, 15 assists, and ten rebounds on eight occasions over the last three seasons. The entire NBA has combined only five such games in that same timeframe. Doncic is, without a doubt, a unique talent. 

“The dude is elite,” Bullock said postgame, referring to Doncic. “He’s an elite passer and elite scorer. He gets everyone else involved. He can break his player down in iso, and he’s still young, so having a player like that, that’s so in control, and at a young age, the future is definitely bright for him, and he led us to a win tonight.”

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