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Dennis Smith and Luka Doncic show Dallas a sign of the future

“Welcome to the Future,” read the slogan on the blue T-shirts waiting for fans at the American Airlines Center on Saturday night.

The Dallas Mavericks certainly envision their home opener as a sign of things to come for a franchise that is preparing for the post-Dirk era.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

Luka Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr., the Mavs’ prized recent lottery picks, recovered from a rough start to star in a 140-136 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves in front of a rowdy sellout crowd. They did so playing a fast-paced, 3-point-firing style that is sweeping through the NBA — and suits the Mavs’ young core.

“It was only one game, but that was fun,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban said. “We wanted Dennis and Luka to take steps forward. Dennis has gotten better. Luka is still finding his way, but what a way to find your way. It was impressive.”

It was ugly early for Doncic, the No. 3 overall pick making his NBA home debut. He went scoreless in the first quarter, hoisting an air ball among his three missed shots and committing a couple of turnovers. He didn’t exactly make up for it on the defensive end, either, as Minnesota (minus resting, disgruntled star Jimmy Butler) put up 46 points, matching the most the Mavs have ever allowed in a first quarter.6

But Doncic, the 19-year-old former Euroleague MVP the Mavs are hoping can take the torch from injured 21-year vet Dirk Nowitzki as the face of the franchise, got rolling midway through the second quarter. He finally got on the board with an and-1 floater with 6:41 remaining in the half. He followed that up with 3s on back-to-back possessions, and suddenly he had a scoring binge of 15 points in just over five minutes.nfl cheap jerseys nike

Doncic finished with 26 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals. The list of teens to put up that kind of line, per Basketball-Reference.com data: Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Lamar Odom, Clifford Robinson and now Doncic, who fully expects to experience that kind of success during his rookie season.

“I’ve played this basketball for a long time,” said Doncic, who made his pro debut for Real Madrid at age 15. “I’ve been professional. I had to grow up there, so I was ready for the game here. I mean, the game for sure is more physical. You have a lot more physical guys that can guard you, but at the end of the day, it’s just basketball.”