Defense helps Mavericks stay hot as Luka Doncic outduels Ja Morant in Dallas

In a matchup between two of the hottest teams in the league, Mavericks defeated the Grizzlies for the second time in 10 days. At the final buzzer, the Mavericks clinched a 104-91 victory led by Luka Doncic, who outdueled his opposing superstar point guard Ja Morant.

Coming into this game, Memphis had won 13 of their previous 15 games while Dallas had won 10 of their last 12. 

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The Slovenian finished with 37 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and three steals while Morant recorded 35 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. This game was the 17th time that Doncic, who already has 41 triple-doubles in the fourth season of his career, missed out on a triple-double by one rebound or one assist.

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The duo put on a show but in the end, the hosts defense had the final say as they held the Grizzlies to just 91 points. 

It’s the eighth time in January and 10th in their last 14 games that the Dallas defense, owners of the league’s best defensive rating in January, has held their opponent to under 100 points.

In this contest, they held the visitors to 37.4 percent shooting from the field and just four 3-pointers on an efficiency of 16.7 percent. Those numbers are a huge contrast from the Grizzlies’ shooting numbers from the past 15 games – 46.7 percent from the field and 32.8 percent on 3-pointers. 

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“Our shots come and go… But our defense, that’s just effort,” Dallas wing Dorian Finney-Smith said postgame. That’s what I call it, want-to. Either you feel like doing it or you don’t. I feel like we’ve been stepping up to that challenge.”

Finney-Smith nails it. The Mavericks have been winning games recently with their defense. Despite having the 23rd ranked offense in January, they have the second-best net rating in the league

For the month of January, the opponent’s numbers for the Mavericks are league-best – 95.6 points allowed, 42.4 percent field goal efficiency and 27.3 percent 3-point shooting efficiency

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With this win, the Mavericks bounce back from their loss on Friday to the Phoenix Suns but they have a tough test coming up. After a day off, they travel to San Francisco to face the Golden State Warriors, who they held to their season-low 82 points earlier in the month on Jan. 5.

On the other hand, the Grizzlies continue their road trip to San Antonio for what is a road-heavy schedule ahead. Of their 10 upcoming games, including the one against the Spurs, Memphis plays eight on the road.