Smith's impressive showing against champs prompts Carlisle to say 'he's built for this'

Dallas -- A Steph Curry 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds left in the game decided the Mavericks fate in a highly entertaining 125-122 Warriors victory.

But it was the action in the final minute of the first half that should grab the attention of Mavs fans even more.

That's when rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. used a stutter step to freeze Curry, before blowing by him and elevating for a ferocious dunk that had the building buzzing.

Curry answered quickly by calming lining up a 3-pointer and splashing it home.

But what happened on the Mavs next possession was even more impressive. Smith had a chance to go toe-to-toe with the best shooter on the planet didn't blink. He hoisted a 3-pointer and drained it.

It was a confidence-building moment in the face of one of the league's best players. 

"You got to relish the opportunities," said Smith. "That's something you look forward to as a kid."

Smith has been making the most of those opportunities lately.

During the Mavs 3-game road trip before returning home to face the Warriors, Smith notched his first career triple-double and also out-dueled league MVP Russell Westbrook in a Mavericks victory Sunday night.

Smith has increasingly found himself in the lineup at the end of games, and don't expect that to change anytime soon, especially after what happened against the defending NBA champs.

"Look, he's not a guy that's going to cower in the limelight," said Mavericks head coach Rick Carlise. "He's built for this."

Smith scores just 14 points and had 8 assists, but this game was about output, it was about being on the court in the waning moments against the champs.

Smith had another dunk late in the fourth quarter that igniting the Mavs who erased a double-digit deficit to tie the game at 122 apiece. It was the type of game that could accelerate the rookie's development.

"I thought a lot of his game was very good. He didn't have a good shooting night, but he kept attacking which is great," said Carlisle. "And if you ask him, he's probably going to tell you he just needs to play a little bit better and get the ball in the basket a little bit more."

When Smith was asked how he was able to put aside the awe he had as a kid for this night's opponents, he didn't hesitate with his answer.

"Because I 'ain't no kid no more," Smith said.

Yep, we're starting to figure that out.

© 2018 WFAA-TV


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