Luka Doncic, Dallas show record-setting rhythm and potential

Here are three thoughts on the Mavericks’ 124-73 win over the Clippers, their first win of the 2020-21 season:

Record increase

Perhaps the Mavericks were particularly frustrated with the 2-0 start and had to let out their emotions.

Or maybe they were still feeling the sting of last year’s first-round playoff defeat.

Either way, the Clippers paid for Dallas’ power, domination, and boasting at the Staples Center on Sunday afternoon.

The Mavericks led 77-27 in half. Yes, that’s 50 points.

It was the biggest half-time advantage in the NBA’s shot clock era.

The previous NBA record: Golden State led Sacramento in November 1991 with 47 points (88-41).

The Mavericks’ best franchise so far: 44 points on November 13, 2014 against the 76ers.

Then Philadelphia was deeply in the “process” of rebuilding. Although without Kawhi Leonard in the line-up on Sunday (mouth injury), the Clippers are considered championship candidates in the Western Conference this year.

The Mavericks’ surge didn’t remove all disappointment with their first two losses, including a 23-point loss to the Lakers in the same arena at Christmas, but the stats for the first half have likely removed any doubt about their potential this season.

The Mavericks outperformed the Clippers 32-16, shooting 45% by three and 58% off the ground. Luka Doncic was in full triple-double watch with 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and a steal during the break.

Biggest halftime leads in NBA history

Span date Halftime score Bottom line
50 December 27, 2020 Dallas 77, at LA Clippers 27 W, 124-73
47 November 2, 1991 at Golden State 88, Sacramento 41 W, 153-91
44 November 23, 1967 * Seattle 75, Boston 31 W, 123-70
44 November 13, 2014 in Dallas 73, Philadelphia 29 W, 123-70
42 February 15, 1961 * St. Louis 78, Philadelphia 36 W, 135-98
42 October 29, 2018 Golden State 92, in Chicago 50 W, 149-124

* Neutral site play

Doncic finds his rhythm

The newbies and reserves rotations of the Mavericks weren’t typical for the entire second half. Of course, they played with an atypical leadership.

But before the game was prematurely sealed, Doncic played with the rhythm, finesse and confidence he had shown in his sophomore season, especially in the playoff series against these Clippers in August.

The 21-year-old all-star scored 13 points, six rebounds, four assists and one steal in the first quarter and played every 12 minutes.

He didn’t return after checking out 1:41 in the third quarter – when the Mavericks were still on top at 50 (102-52) – and finished the race on 24 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in 26 minutes, just just before that, his first triple double of the season.

While his three-point shootouts continued – he went 0-5 on Sunday and is 2 of 16 this season – Doncic made several hard drives and drew three of his seven fouls 1-1. He showed strong chemistry with the new wing addition Josh Richardson (21 points in 27 minutes).

Sweet home bound home

The Mavericks weren’t shy when they talked about the challenge of starting the season on the road against three of the best teams in the West.

This road trip was perhaps just as daunting from the place.

Due to strict COVID-19 regulations in California, the Mavericks were unable to leave their hotel and rarely left their rooms to play and practice at the Staples Center. They had packed food over Christmas, not team meals, because they couldn’t gather more than a few people outside the arena.

Carlisle wouldn’t say the restrictions necessary to public health and safety amid the pandemic were mentally stressful. “We haven’t worked normally for a few months,” he said before the game. “Look, these are inconveniences, but for now they are realities.”

But with a massive win in hand, the Mavericks are sure to be happy to return to Dallas on Sunday evening, take the day off, practice Tuesday and play the Hornets on their AAC opener on Wednesday.

Find more Mavericks stories from the Dallas Morning News here.

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