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UPDATE: Nets close out Black History Month at home against Mavs

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Dallas Mavericks v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Keep it rollin’. The Brooklyn Nets hosted the Orlando Magic on Thursday as the middle game of their three-game homestand. They started slow and next thing you knew, they cracked the game wide open and cruised to a 37-point win in front of the hometown fans. The winning streak is at eight and the team is now one-half game behind the Philadelphia 76ers for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

The opponent tonight will be the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs have underachieved this season, but are still within playoff contention. Their three-game road trip got off to a horrible start as they got cleaned up by the 76ers on Thursday night. When they get out of here, they’ll head south to Orlando to wrap things up.

Where to follow the game

ABC is the place to be. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 8:30 PM.


Spencer Dinwiddie is out. Kyrie Irving is resting. Jeff Green’s available. Kevin Durant is out til after the All Star Break.

Steve Nash, asked about Irving’s injury, had this to say...

Kristaps Porzingis missed Thursday’s game due to a back injury. He’s questionable.

The game

Following Thursday’s loss, Rick Carlisle mentioned the team’s 22 turnovers and lack of ball movement as factors that led to their defeat. On the season, the Mavs are near the bottom of the league in assist percentage. Fortunately for them, they’re one of the better teams at taking care of the ball as their team turnover rate is very low. On the whole, Brooklyn hasn’t scored as many points off of turnovers as you’d think. But then again, they haven’t forced many turnovers this season (28th in opponent’s turnover rate).

So what to make of Porzingis? He’s injured again and there are some mentions of him possibly getting traded. The Mavs need him to be that second star and frontcourt presence, and he just hasn’t been able to do that enough since he came over from the Knicks two years ago. Assuming he’s out again, the Mavs will rely on Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Dwight Powell for most of their frontcourt production. Not the best situation for our friends in Texas.

Nicolas Claxton keeps on shining. The second-year big put forth another solid showing in his time on the court and is quickly getting up to speed with Steve Nash’s schemes and plays. The good thing about this season for him is there’s no pressure on him to produce and he has good teachers on the roster and coaching staff to aid his development. He’s rangy, has active hands, can jump out of the gym, and is full of energy. Fans love young players like that and the more he plays, the better the team will be in the short and long term.

“Nic works his ass off, man,” said DeAndre Jordan on Friday. “As far as motor and learning how to play the game, he’s awesome. Clax is going to be a great player in this league for a very long time.”

Josh Richardson profiles as Dallas’ best perimeter defender and they’re going to need him to slow James Harden down as best as he can. Harden had for him a lesser game, 20 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, but with Irving out, he’ll need to show everyone his full bag.

Are we going to see a superstar faceoff between Harden and Luka Doncic?

Player to watch: Luka Doncic

Yeah we can start here

Coming into the season, Doncic was a lot of writers’ pick for MVP, and while the team as a whole haven’t been great, he’s been exceptional. He’s averaging around 29 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists a game on a Mavs team that doesn’t play as fast as you’d think. He averages around four turnovers a night, but his turnover rate has gone down some and considering how often he has the ball in his hands, four is OK.

His 3-point percentages aren’t great, but there’s a good reason for that. Ricky O’Donnell has more over at the main site:

Doncic’s struggles as a spot-up shooter can be attributed to the fact that he’s played with the ball in his hands his entire life. While it would be great for Doncic to develop into a knockdown threat off the ball, the reality is his pull-up ability gives him far more gravity as a scorer. Even when Doncic is missing tough pull-ups, defenses have to account for the fact that he can take and make those shots. That opens up the rest of his game for himself and his teammates.

This month, he’s shooting 45 percent from three on close to eight attempts a night. If he unlocks that part of his game in full, good luck, world.

Dallas doesn’t have anyone else on the roster that can initiate the offense and get their own shot, so Doncic has to play at an unbelievably high level every night if he wants to will his team to victory.

“Luka is one of the most exciting talents we’ve seen,” Steve Nash said after Friday’s practice. “Do I see some of myself in him? If I were 6’8” and 230 pounds, yeah. That’s a big difference when you’re 6’2”, 175 pounds.”

Aside from the six turnovers, it was another quality day at the office for James Harden on Thursday. He “only” scored 20 points, but due to the blowout he didn’t need to be out there long. More importantly, he went 5-of-10 from 3-point range and has gone 14-29 from deep in the last three games. Harden, in fact, is fifth all-time in 3-pointers made at 2,414, 36 short of No. 4, Kyle Korver.

His combination of court vision, long range accuracy, strength, and the relentless makes Harden impossible to cover and has the Nets dreaming as big as possible.

Coming to America via Brooklyn

Here’s a bit of a marketing surprise...

Should be interesting.

From the Vault

We’re closing out Black History Month with Ida B. Wells

More reading: Mavs Moneyball