Screw the preamble, let’s get to the good shit!
ROLL THE FOOTAGE
Our beautiful chunky finished with 29 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds, two steals and one turnover. He scored the final seven points for a Mavericks team that looked absolutely lifeless throughout most of the fourth quarter. Before the seven-point run, he assisted on a Harrison Barnes three. Luka is something else, and while yeah, he went 10-of-23 from the field, he basically pitched a perfect game otherwise.
He’s 19. He’s 19. I say this almost every time I write or talk about Luka but — what does this look like when he’s 24? 25? 28? I don’t even know, man. Praise Luka.
All-Star Luka, to be exact.
The Mavericks mix things up, finally
Against the Wolves, Carlisle again abandoned his “hockey-shift” sub rotation he had earlier in the season, instead staggering his starters throughout the night. Just about every starter got some run with some sort of bench unit and the results seemed pretty good. The Luka-J.J. Barea-Dwight Powell trio looked especially potent, with Powell reverting to his rim-running ways to the tune of 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting (of course the one miss was a three). That trio with Dirk dominated in the second quarter and then when Dirk cooled off in the second half, Carlisle replaced him with Barnes and the Mavs went on another run. It was a neat look, with Barnes and Luka spacing the floor for Barea and Powell to do their thing in the pick and roll. The Wolves were terrified to help off Banres and Luka and Powell made them pay with aggressive rim runs. When Minnesota finally stuck to Powell, Barea either had easy paths to the basket (16 points on 7-of-14 shooting) or Barnes got free from deep (4-of-7 from three). Hopefully Carlisle sticks with this, even when the Mavs were a little overwhelmed defensively and on the boards. It’s certainly better than the five-in, five-out pattern he rolled with to start the season.
Please be OK, JJ
I hate to end what was a seriously fun game with a somber note, but Barea’s career might have ended tonight. He took a rough spill in the fourth quarter and immediately grabbed his achilles while looking fairly distraught. The Mavericks players knew something was up too as the circled Barea when trainers looked at him.
Barea had to be helped off as he seemingly didn’t put much weight (if any) on his injured foot. An achilles tear for a 5’9, 34-year-old point guard might as well be a death sentence in the NBA, so please basketball gods, spare us this one disaster. While it would be poetic for Dirk and Barea to leave the league in the same summer, I would very much not like my youthful soul getting ripped out of my body and flushed down the toilet.
If I remember correctly, either last season or the season before, Barea had a similar looking injury and we all feared the worst. He grabbed his heel then too but thankfully it was just a bad hamstring strain and Barea missed about a month or so before returning. Maybe that’s what this is. Right now the Mavericks are just calling it an “injured lower right leg” and he’ll get an MRI to confirm whatever it is on Saturday. I hope, we hope, for good news.