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The Mavericks are capable of gritty wins, too? Yikes

The Dallas Mavericks have established in one week of regular season basketball that the Luka Doncic-Kristaps Porzingis combo will be a force to be reckoned with. It’s like the weirdest pick-and-roll combo imaginable, unreasonably large and with nutty range. The problem for the Mavericks this season would be getting enough defense and supplemental production around the duo to be competitive against the best West teams.

But that flipped on its head Wednesday: Luka and Kristaps shot a combined 7-of-26 and had six turnovers to eight assists … but Dallas still rallied in Denver to give the Nuggets their first loss of the season. It’s a really marvelous win with some bizarre energy, one that should fuel some confidence in Dallas that they can survive bad nights from the star duo and maybe hang with the best in the West for the season.

The Mavericks’ bench played admirably well, and the team’s defense ratcheted down in the fourth, holding Denver to 18 points on 23 possessions. The Nuggets had a top-seven offense in the NBA last season. If the Mavericks have a defense that can be above average and Luka and Kristaps continue down their path, this is a playoff team.

Tough loss for Denver. But, uh, how does Nikola Jokic get just one shot in the fourth?

Scores

Hawks 97, Heat 112
Mavericks 109, Nuggets 106
Grizzlies 91, Lakers 120

Schedule

All times ET. Games on League Pass unless otherwise noted.

Bulls at Cavaliers, 7 p.m.
Knicks at Magic, 7 p.m.
Wolves at Sixers, 7 p.m.
Bucks at Celtics, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Pacers at Nets, 7:30 p.m.
Pistons at Raptors, 7:30
Rockets at Wizards, 8 p.m.
Blazers at Thunder, 8 p.m.
Clippers at Jazz, 10 p.m., ESPN
Hornets at Kings, 10 p.m.
Suns at Warriors, 10:30 p.m.

Links

Trae Young is out at least two weeks with a sprained ankle. PROTECT TRAE YOUNG AT ALL COSTS.

Matt Ellentuck’s six overreactions to the first week of the season.

Jackie MacMullan on Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant’s early days together and how this all happened. I’m increasingly uncomfortable with the coverage of Kyrie’s “mood swings” given the potential causes we don’t know much about.

Jimmy Butler is back.

Incredible performance by Anthony Davis against a very young Grizzlies team — 40-20 in three quarters. Sheesh.

Shaun Powell on the murder of Kawhi Leonard’s father.

Michael Pina on Robert Covington being the type of player every good team needs.

Paul Millsap is aging like fine wine.

It is an absolute shame what is happening at G/O Media. I don’t always agree with what Deadspin publishes (and I have a decade of email debates to that effect), but it is absolutely obvious that the site and its writers have been a net good for the internet and internet writers. Watching a bad company with bad leaders tear it down for sport is awful. Megan Greenwell warned us.

It sounds like the NCAA is surrendering to a tsunami of political and social pressure on the concept of letting student athletes benefit from their names, likenesses, and images. We’ll see. Nate Scott is rightfully skeptical.

Kawhi is trying to trademark “What It Do Baby.”

The WNBA and players’ union extended their current agreement for 60 days, which indicates they might have made some progress on a deal and just need more time. It either side was going to the mat, you wouldn’t think they’d agree to a short extension. We’ll see.

The underrated parts of Bam Adebayo’s game.

Sounds like Kyle Kuzma will be back later this week.

How should the Wizards evaluate Scott Brooks this season?

LeBron, whose family was evacuated due to the Getty Fire earlier this week, sent a taco truck to feed first responders. Also, he helped the LA crowd get a Taco Tuesday chant going. What can’t he do?

The best types of photos Kevin Love takes with his dog.

Be excellent to each other.

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