Mark Daigneault's bold decision backfires in favor of Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks, Dereck Lively II
Dallas Mavericks, Dereck Lively II / Tim Heitman/GettyImages

One of the lesser-discussed matchups of the Dallas Mavericks-Oklahoma City Thunder series is the showdown between coaches Jason Kidd and Mark Daigneault. 

Up 2-1 in the series, it seems Kidd has had the upper hand. But the Mavs can't take the foot off the gas pedal just yet because Daigneault isn't the reigning Coach of the Year (and runner-up last season) for nothing. After all, he led the Thunder to the Western Conference's top seed and has been renowned for his in-game and game-to-game adjustments.

On Saturday, though, Dallas eked out a 105-101 victory, displaying the team's ability to come up big in crunch time and Kidd's coaching prowess.

Mark Daigneault's decision to hack Dereck Lively II backfires in favor of Mavs

Daigneault also committed a crucial mistake in the fourth quarter by intentionally fouling Dereck Lively II on several possessions to try to rally for a comeback victory.

The Thunder first attempted the Hack-A-Lively at the 5:55 mark of the final period as they trailed 94-90. The rookie center made his first free throw before missing the second shot. 

On the following possession, the Mavs' defense went to work. Derrick Jones Jr., who put up a dud in Game 3, stole the ball from Oklahoma City, which proceeded to foul Lively II again. Unfortunately, the young big man clanked both freebies before being subbed out several possessions later. 

But with 4:02 remaining in the contest, Kidd put his trust in Lively II by calling his number again. The Thunder then hacked the Duke University product two more times. Probably to the opponents' surprise, he sank four straight free throws, the last of which put Dallas up 100-95 with 3:06 on the clock.

It was quite an impressive performance from Lively II. He finished the evening with 12 points (including 8-12 from the charity stripe) and eight rebounds to make up for his Game 2 dud. More impressively, he had a game-high plus/minus of +16.

It remains to be seen if Daigneault can work his magic on Monday, but the fact that his squad lost despite a subpar game (by his standard) from Luka Doncic must have the 39-year-old coach grasping at straws. 

third star has emerged for the Mavs in P.J. Washington, who has averaged 28.0 points per game in the last two matches. If the supporting cast, including Lively II, continues fulfilling their roles well, it wouldn't be surprising to see Dallas go up 3-1 before the series returns to Oklahoma City for Game 5.

Stay plugged in to read more about Jason Kidd, Dereck Lively II, and the Dallas Mavericks.