Dennis Smith Jr. was drafted No. 5 overall by the Dallas Mavericks back in 2017. Halfway through his second NBA season, the explosive guard was traded from Dallas to the New York Knicks in the deal that netted the Mavs Kristaps Porzingis.
Fast forward over four years later, and he may have dealt a lethal blow to his former team’s playoff hopes.
Smith Jr. nailed a deep 3-pointer in Dallas Friday to put his Charlotte Hornets up eight points with under 15 seconds to play.
The Hornets, who hold the NBA’s fourth-worst record, went on to secure the 117-109 victory over the Mavericks.
Smith Jr. finished the night with 13 points and 9 assists, while shooting 4-of-9 from the field and 2-of-4 from beyond the arc.
After his Charlotte’s 24th win of the season, the 25-year-old told reporters that it felt great to drill the dagger three against his old team and that he had a little something for Dallas’ bench after the shot went down.
“That felt great,” Smith Jr. said via ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, “That felt great. As soon as I hit it, I looked over at the bench and said ‘hold that.’”
Luka Doncic Frustrated After Mavericks Fall to Hornets
Dallas’ March 24 defeat at the hands of the Hornets, dropped them out of the postseason altogether. If the season ended Friday night, the Mavs would’ve finished in 11th place in the West, missing the Play-In Tournament and watching the Knicks get to play the lottery with the pick they sent along with Smith Jr. for Porzingis.
Thankfully for the organization and its fans, that isn’t the case. However, it doesn’t mean that the team’s current skid hasn’t been frustrating. Just ask star guard Luka Doncic.
Following his team’s let down night against Charlotte, Doncic voiced his frustrations, but acknowledged the team still has time to fix its issues.
“This season hasn’t been what we thought it was going to be. But we still got time to make up [for it],” Doncic said via the Fanatics View YouTube channel.
The Slovenian later added that he hasn’t been having fun at all lately.
“It’s really frustrating,” Doncic said. “I think you can see it with me on the court. Sometimes, I don’t feel it’s me. Just being out there. I used to have [a lot of] fun. Smiling on the court. But it’s just been so frustrating. For a lot of reasons, not just basketball.”
Kyrie Irving Goes on Rant After Mavs Lose to Hornets
Doncic’s backcourt partner Kyrie Irving had quite a bit to say on Friday. He sounded fed up with the team’s performance, not only against the Hornets, but as a whole since he was traded to Dallas from the Brooklyn Nets.
“I mean, not really. I didn’t imagine [this],” Irving said via the Fanatics View YouTube channel. “I expect to win every ball game that I play. So, that’s the attitude I go on with. But the reality is what it in. We are 3-7. But again, it’s a team basketball game. As much as people want to put it on me and Luka, it’s a team basketball game, and we talk about that in a locker room. Everyone loves to point fingers at what we’re doing, but it’s a team-aspect game. And I feel like when we focus on our team aspect, that’s when we get clear answers. But when we focus on two guys and what our numbers are and whether we can play better, it limits all the other guys and their capabilities in that locker room, and I don’t want to do that. I believe in each one of those guys. And when I was coming here, I knew that giving up Dorian Finney-Smith or giving up Spencer [Dinwiddie], that was gonna be a change to any lineup that they had going o. Different minutes. Guys get in and out of the lineup. I haven’t necessarily been as healthy as I would like to be at this point in the season. Other guys haven’t been as healthy. Me and Luka as well, more importantly. But again, there’s no time for excuses. We just got to lace them up and get ready.”