The Dallas Mavericks falling short in a massive comeback attempt against the OKC Thunder, rookie Dereck Lively II etched his name in NBA history with a career-best performance. Down by 24 points in the fourth quarter, the Mavericks initiated an NBA record-breaking 30-0 run, seizing a 117-111 lead with four minutes left. However, the fatigue of a back-to-back game proved too much, and the Mavericks succumbed to a 126-120 defeat.
In the absence of key players like Kyrie Irving, Tim Hardaway Jr., Josh Green, and Dante Exum, the Mavs found a silver lining in Lively’s outstanding display. In 39 minutes, the 19-year-old rookie recorded 20 points, 16 rebounds, and seven blocks, shooting a perfect 9-9 from the field. Remarkably, he became the first teenager in NBA history to achieve a stat line of at least 20 points, 15 rebounds, and five blocks on 100 percent shooting.
Embracing Basketball’s Momentum and Emphasising End-Game Precision
Lively, reflecting on the game, acknowledged the nature of basketball as a game of runs. Despite the heartbreaking loss, he emphasized the need for better practice in closing out end-game situations. The young player’s maturity and understanding of the game shone through, particularly in his ability to find openings and contribute significantly when the team needed it most.
Lively now holds a 1-1 record against Rookie of the Year frontrunners Victor Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren, outplaying both in head-to-head matchups. Holmgren, finishing with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and five blocks for OKC, fell short against Lively’s stellar performance.
Acknowledging his room for growth, Lively emphasised the importance of offseasons in an NBA weight room to face formidable bigs like Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid. With elite physical attributes, a high basketball IQ, and the guidance of Luka Doncic as his point guard, Dereck Lively II appears to be on an early path to greatness in Dallas, setting the stage for a promising future.