Home » Ben Simmons trend ‘has to change’ as Josh Green continues hot streak, superstar duo explode in Mavs win

Ben Simmons trend ‘has to change’ as Josh Green continues hot streak, superstar duo explode in Mavs win

The Dallas Mavericks held off a pesky Brooklyn Nets outfit 119-107 on Wednesday as the Luka Doncic-Kyrie Irving tandem delivered in a 71-point statement.

Doncic and Irving were playing their 24th game of the season together in the Mavericks line-up, with the latter returning to Barclays Center for his first game since being traded to Dallas.

Irving put on a show for the Brooklyn fans as he scored a game-high 36 points to go with five assists and two steals while Doncic had 35 points, 18 rebounds, nine assists and two steals.

Elsewhere, Australian Josh Green continued his strong start to the month with 12 points and three assists, now averaging 17.5 points in February while shooting 53.5 per cent from downtown.

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On the other side of the floor Ben Simmons was solid for Brooklyn as he threatened a triple-double, finishing with nine points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

Simmons was also able to get to the free throw line for just the third time this season, with six attempts in 243 minutes which averages out to around one every 40 minutes.

“That has to change,” former NBA coach Stan Van Gundy said in commentary.

It was a decent performance all-round from Simmons though given Brooklyn struggled to get its transition game going where the Australian thrives most.


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The Nets entered Wednesday’s game attempting the sixth-most 3-pointers in the league and were quick to set up a deep look as Spencer Dinwiddie missed on the first shot of the night.

It took five shots from both teams for Irving to bring up the opening points of the game after active defence from Green helped force a steal for Doncic, who found his running mate for the score.

Simmons, playing on Wednesday after missing the first game of Brooklyn’s back-to-back due to injury maintenance, had an immediate impact as he recorded two quick assists.

The first came as he worked towards the paint and kicked it out to an open Mikal Bridges for the 3-pointer before later finding a cutting Nic Claxton inside, with the Nets big man drawing the foul.

Simmons had a few other nice moments, first earning an extra possession for Brooklyn as he hurled a ball that seemed destined to go out of bounds at Maxi Kleber.

Ben Simmons was solid for Brooklyn. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)Source: FOX SPORTS

The Australian then found Bridges for an easy bucket with a pinpoint inbounds pass before being substituted out of the game with 6:56 left in the first quarter.

Dallas led 14-9 at that point, with Brooklyn coach Jacque Vaughn calling a timeout after Cam Thomas was blocked on a tough shot by Doncic before Irving finished it off with a 3-pointer on the other end.

It capped off a slow start to Wednesday’s game for Thomas, who was 0-for-4 from the floor at that point having attempted a few too many low percentage shots.

Brooklyn, as a whole, meanwhile was 1-for-7 from deep when that timeout was called.

The Mavericks were coming off a 118-102 win over the 76ers which was particularly impressive given Luka Doncic only scored 19 points and had three assists.

Only, of course, saying more about just how good Doncic has been this season and just how reliant the Mavericks have often been on his production for wins (see his 73 points against Atlanta).

The Slovenian superstar was double-teamed quite regularly in that game against the Hawks and the Nets put two defenders on him early but were still punished as Doncic rose above for a 3-pointer.

Doncic finished the first quarter with nine points, seven rebounds, four assists, one steal and a block as his mere presence alone opened up looks for teammates.

The Mavericks had a 31-24 lead with Irving also on nine points and the former Nets guard kept that rolling into the second, scoring seven of Dallas’ first nine points to open the period.

By the time Doncic had re-entered the game the Mavericks were in total control and had pushed their lead out to 52-36.

The Nets answered back with their best sequence of the game at that point as a Simmons rebound quickly led to a dunk for Claxton after an outlet pass from the Australian to Bridges.

However, another play just before reinforced just how stagnant Brooklyn’s offence can get with Simmons and Claxton on the court together when the pair aren’t spaced out by shooters.

The Nets never really threatened to close the gap in the second quarter as the Mavericks took a 65-47 buffer into halftime, with Irving and Doncic combining for 36 of their points.

Dallas, who came into Wednesday’s game making and attempting the second-most 3-pointers in the league, shot 55 per cent from deep in the opening half (11-for-20).

The Nets, on the other hand, only made five of 16 and found themselves in an even bigger hole just 45 seconds into the third quarter as the Mavs pushed their lead out to 70-47.

It came after a defensive breakdown saw Green make an easy layup before Irving drained a 3-pointer, prompting a quick timeout from Vaughn.

The Nets were able to reduce the deficit to 16 on a few occasions, with Simmons scoring four quick points in the space of 30 seconds as he connected with Claxton in transition after a putback on the earlier possession.

Simmons then drew a foul soon after to bring up a pair of free throws, making one as Brooklyn trailed 76-59 with 6:42 left in the third quarter at that point.

Brooklyn was able to chip away at Dallas’ lead and eventually got within single figures before Irving and Doncic took over late to finish the third in emphatic fashion, extending the buffer to 95-77.

Luka Doncic was hard to stop. Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

Doncic alone had three rebounds and six points in the final 75 seconds of the quarter, putting an exclamation mark on the period with a ridiculous 35-foot pullup jumper.

The Nets opened the fourth with two quick 3-pointers before Simmons answered an Irving jump shot with an alley oop dunk to keep it at a 12-point difference early.

Just as Dallas looked set to pull away Brooklyn hit right back, getting within nine points once more as rookie Jalen Wilson hit a 3-pointer with eight minutes left to force a Mavs timeout.

That proved a common theme for the remainder of the fourth quarter as the Nets kept in touch but were unable to get it to a one-possession game, with Doncic and Irving coming up clutch to ice the win for Dallas.