Mavs’ Doncic named Western Conference Player of the Week

The NBA announced today that Mavericks guard Luka Doncic was named the Western Conference Player of the Week for games played Monday, March 29 through Sunday, April 4, marking the third time in his career, and second time this season, he has received the honor (Nov. 18-24, 2019; Jan. 4-10, 2021).

Doncic (6-7, 230) joins Dirk Nowitzki (2002-03, 2006-07, 2009-10, 2010-11) and Josh Howard (2006-07) as the only Mavericks to garner the award multiple times in the same season. He also joins Nowitzki (16 times), Michael Finley (three) and Jason Kidd (three) as the only Dallas players to win the award at least three times in his career.

Doncic led the Mavericks to a 4-0 week on the road with averages of 28.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.0 steals while shooting 54.4% (43-79 FG) from the floor and 40.5% (15-37 3FG) from 3-point range as Dallas won by an average of 15.3 points.

The two-time All-Star recorded 36 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a 113-108 win at Boston (3/31). The game was Doncic’s 15th 30-5-5 effort this season to lead the NBA (tied with Denver’s Jokić).

He opened the week by scoring 25 points to go with three rebounds, seven assists and two steals in a 127-106 win at Oklahoma City (3/29) to help the Mavericks win the season series 2-1.

Doncic contributed 26 points at both New York (4/2) and Washington (4/3). He added eight rebounds, seven assists and one block in the 99-86 win at Madison Square Garden. In the 109-87 victory against the Wizards, Doncic had eight rebounds, six assists, one steal and one block.

In 43 games this season, Doncic is averaging 28.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.8 assists on a career-high 48.8% from the floor. Among league leaders, the Slovenian ranks fifth in scoring, fourth in assists and fourth in triple-doubles (nine).

Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday joins Doncic as the Eastern Conference Player of the Week.

Defense leads the way for Dallas against Washington

Both the Mavericks(27-21) and Wizards(17-31) were shorthanded on Saturday night in D.C. Washington was without their leading- scorer Bradley Beal(right hip contusion) and Rui Hachimura(shoulder), while the Mavericks were without three starters in Kristaps Porzingis(rest), Maxi Kleber(left leg injury), and Josh Richardson(left calf tightness).

With both teams depleted, it was the next man up, and the next men stepped up for Dallas. Boban Marjanovic stepped in for Porzingis and had 15 points and 12 rebounds, Tim Hardaway Jr. stepped in for Richardson and scored 16 points, and newly-acquired Nicolo Melli stepped in for Kleber to score 10 points, and of course, Luka Doncic led the way for the Mavericks with 26 points, eight rebounds, and six assists as Dallas defeated Washington 109-87. 

Dallas had another solid defensive effort against Washington. On Friday night, the Mavericks held the Knicks to 86 points, and three quarters of 20 points or less, which is one of the reasons the team won, according to head coach Rick Carlisle, who returned to the bench on Saturday after a COVID-19 scare forced him to miss the win against New York.

“20 point defensive quarter in the third, 20 point defensive quarter in the fourth, and that was the key,” Carlisle said.

The Wizards(113.5 ppg) do score the basketball at a high level, and even without Beal and Hachimura in the lineup, Carlisle was still impressed with how the Mavericks defended. 

“We knew that we could defend a lot better than we were the first month of the season, the first five weeks,” Carlisle said. “But, this team is showing you what’s it’s capable of. The game last night in New York, holding them in the 80s, I think it was. Tonight, holding these guys to 87. I don’t care if Beal’s out, Hachimura’s out. These guys can score.” 

Dallas is starting to look like the team that many thought could possibly be when the season started. They ended their five-game road trip 4-1 and have won four straight. They have to continue to stay healthy and stay committed to playing defense.

On Monday night, the Mavericks return home to battle the team with the best record in basketball, the Utah Jazz. 

Photo: @Mavs/Twitter

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on loss to Heat: ‘I thought it was a tale of two halves’

It was a tale of two halves for the Cleveland Cavaliers(17-32) in Miami on Saturday night. Cleveland had a hard time stopping the Heat(26-24) in the first half. Miami scored 67 points and shot 58% from the field, including 47%(10-21) from three-point range, and ultimately, they led 67-54 at halftime.

Cleveland tightened the screws in the third quarter, which has been an Achilles heel for this team all season long. However, on Saturday night, they came out and defended well. They held the Heat to 17 points in the quarter, including 33% from the field. Unfortunately, Cleveland only scored 19 points in that quarter, and they would eventually fall on the road 115-101.

The Cavaliers have now lost 20 straight games in Miami and have not won there since 2010. 

Miami had seven guys in double figures led by Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, who had 18 points apiece. Adebayo also added 11 rebounds. For Cleveland, Collin Sexton had a game-high 26 points, Taurean Prince had a season-best 19 points off the bench, and rookie Isaac Okoro finished with a career-high 17 points. 

While the Cavaliers lost their fifth straight game and six of their last seven, Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was happy with how the team played in the second half, but he knows they have to play a complete game to beat the Heat.

“I thought it was a tale of two halves,” Bickerstaff said. “I thought we were really good in the second half. We come out and hold this team to 17 points; I thought we did a phenomenal job in that second half. I thought our scrap and our grit was much better in the second half. Again, you’re playing a caliber of team like this with the weapons they have. You gotta play it for 48.”

Late in the fourth, frustration started to boil over for the Cavaliers. Darius Garland tried to take a charge on Trevor Ariza, but he was called for a blocking foul. An angry Garland punched the ball and was assessed a technical foul, which led to his ejection.

Bickerstaff took issue with the ejection.

“They decided to throw him out on one technical, which I completely disagree with,” Bickerstaff said. “There’s no justification for throwing him out of the game on one technical.”

Cleveland will try to snap their five-game losing streak when they head to San Antonio to battle the Spurs. The Cavaliers will complete their three-game road trip against the Thunder on Thursday night.

Notes:

Kevin Love posted his 1st double-double of the season with 10 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and one block in 23 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grant Hill to replace Colangelo as managing director of Team USA

Olympic gold medalist and 19-year NBA standout Grant Hill has been approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors as the next managing director of the USA Men’s National Team. Hill will succeed current managing director Jerry Colangelo after the Tokyo Olympics.

“It is a tremendous honor to serve as managing director of USA Basketball’s Men’s National Team. I am looking forward to working with the USA Basketball staff and Board of Directors to lead this program so uniquely positioned for continued growth and for developing and promoting our top talent in events around the world,” said Hill. “As a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team, I know the thrill and responsibility it is to represent our country. I am confident USA Basketball will continue to showcase the top talent and highest character players in our country.”

Taking control in 2005 of a USA National Team that hadn’t won a major international competition since 2000, Colangelo rebuilt the program from the bottom up. Under Colangelo, the USA men have compiled a remarkable 97-4 overall record and have claimed top honors in six of eight FIBA or FIBA Americas competitions, including Olympic championships in 2008, 2012 and 2016.

Hill played for five USA Basketball teams, won two gold medals and one bronze medal and compiled an overall record of 26-1 (.963 winning percentage). He was a member of the gold medalist 1996 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team and the 5-0 1996 USA National Team. Hill as a collegian was a part of the 1992 USA Developmental Team that trained against the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team, the bronze medalist 1991 USA Pan American Games Team and the gold medalist 1990 USA U18 Championship Team.

Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 2018, Hill’s NBA career covered 19 seasons, and he was a seven-time NBA All-Star and a five-time All-NBA selection. Playing four collegiate seasons at Duke University, he helped lead the Blue Devils to back-to-back NCAA national titles in 1991 and 1992 and to a runner-up finish in 1994.

Isaiah Thomas signs 10-day contract with Pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans announced that the team has signed guard Isaiah Thomas to a 10-day contract.

Thomas, 32, holds career averages of 18.1 points, 5.0 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game in 525 career regular season games (361 starts) over nine NBA seasons with Sacramento, Phoenix, Boston, Cleveland, L.A. Lakers, Denver and Washington.

Thomas, a two-time NBA All-Star, was selected with the 60th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings. The eight-year veteran was named to the All-NBA Second Team following the 2016-17 season after averaging a career-best 28.9 points per game while shooting .463 from the field and leading the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Most recently, Thomas played for the February 2021 USA Basketball Men’s AmeriCup Qualifying Team. He started both games in the AmeriCup Qualifying February 2021 window, leading the USA to wins over Bahamas and Mexico. In the two games, the University of Washington product averaged 21.0 minutes, a team-high 14.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists a game, while shooting .435 from the field.

Health has been an issue for Thomas over the years. Thomas dealt with a hip issue, but according to the two-time All-Star, he’s healthy and can help an NBA team.

“The world knows I got what it takes,” Thomas said recently. “So, it’s just about showing that I’m healthy. My skill didn’t go anywhere. It was just about getting 100% healthy, which I am right now. So, this is definitely a showcase for me, not just for myself, but for, you know, everybody on this team to showcase that, you know, they can play and be able to get jobs around the world. So, you know, individually. Yes, I’m showing that, you know, I’m 100% healthy. I’m moving and I’m myself.”

Thomas appears to be healthy, so this is a great opportunity for him to prove he can get it done.

Photo: FIBA AmeriCup

Porzingis on win over Knicks: ‘Defense won us this game’

It was not the prettiest of games, but in the NBA, a win is a win, and the Mavericks(26-21) got another road win as they defeated the Knicks(24-25) 99-86 at Madison Square Garden on Friday night.

Dallas was without their head coach Rick Carlisle, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday morning. However, Carlisle, who stayed back at the team hotel, revealed that he was fully vaccinated in January and believed the test was a false positive. 

After the game, it was disclosed by assistant Jamahl Mosley that the 61-year-old Carlisle was cleared to travel to Washington with the team as they finish up their five-game road trip against the Wizards on Saturday night.

Without Carlisle, Mosley coached the game for the Mavericks, and he got an enormous effort out of Luka Doncic and the team on the defensive end.

Doncic finished with a game-high 26 points, including 13 points in the fourth quarter and Jalen Brunson added 15 points. For the Knicks, Immanuel Quickley led the way with 20 points.

Dallas had a workmanlike performance on Friday night, which got it done against the Knicks. 

“Sometimes you’re going to win ugly,” Doncic said after the game. “You gotta win ugly. That means when things don’t go right, you gotta step up together and win the game. I think Maxi(Kleber) did an amazing job today with (Julius)Randle(5-20 FG, 14 points). He was tremendous.”

Dallas led by three going into the fourth quarter, but the Mavericks were able to push the lead to as much as 15 in the final quarter. The Knicks were held to 17 points in the quarter and shot 26% from the field, and according to Kristaps Porzingis, who scored 14 points on Friday night, the defense was the reason for the victory.

“In the end, defense won us the game,” he said. 

Porzingis, who was selected by the Knicks with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft and spent three seasons in New York before demanding a trade and being shipped to Dallas in 2019, was booed every time he touched the ball by the Garden faithful, which he expected.

“The reaction is what I expected again, of course,” Porzingis said. “I’m happy we got the win.”

The Mavericks have now won three straight, and it appears they may have found themselves at this point of the season, which is a good sign with 25 games left. 

Pelicans’ Hart suffers torn UCL in thumb

The New Orleans Pelicans guard Josh Hart suffered a torn UCL in his right thumb during last night’s game against the Orlando Magic, the team announced on Friday. Hart played through the injury against Orlando.

According to ESPN’s Andrew Lopez, Hart is expected to miss significant time. 

According to the Pelicans, the 26-year-old Hart underwent an MRI on Friday, which confirmed the injury diagnosis.

Additional updates regarding Hart’s treatment plan and timetable for return will be announced at a later date, according to the team

In 47 games, Hart is averaging 9.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.3 assists.

Redick on Doncic, Porzingis: ‘They’re both the proverbial unicorn’

The Dallas Mavericks(25-21) continue their five-game road trip on Friday night when they travel to New York to face the Knicks(24-24). Dallas is currently 2-1 on this trip, including a 113-108 victory over the Celtics on Wednesday night. 

In that game, Luka Doncic was red-hot. The two-time All-Star led the Mavericks with 36 points (11-15 FG, 7-11 3FG), eight rebounds, and five assists in 35 minutes for his 15th 30-5-5 game of the season.

Currently, the Mavericks are 25-21 and are the seventh-seed in the Western Conference. Seeds 7-10 will battle it out in the play-in games, so if Dallas wants to avoid that, they have to get the sixth spot, which is occupied by the Blazers, who have a 3.5 game lead on the Mavericks.

Kristaps Porzingis makes another return to New York City, and he’s playing well. Porzingis is averaging 24.8 points (.469 FG%), 11.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.0 blocks per game over his last four games, including 19 points and eight rebounds against Boston. 

The 25-year-old Porzingis, selected by the Knicks with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, spent three seasons in the “Big Apple” and became an All-Star in 2018. Ultimately, the 7-3 star, who tore his ACL in 2018, wanted out of New York and was traded to Dallas with Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, and Trey Burke in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, and two future first-round picks. 

While things did not work out for Porzingis in NYC, he does miss the city.

 “I miss the city; I miss this place,” Porzingis said via Zoom on Thursday. “A lot of great memories. Every time I come back, it’s special. A lot of people here still recognize me and show me love and support. It’s always good to come back.”

It should be interesting to see how Porzingis plays tonight against New York. Last season, in two matchups against the Knicks, both losses, Porzingis averaged 24.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 4.0 blocks per game, which is his highest career scoring average against any team. 

Dallas finishes their five-game road trip on Saturday night in Washington against the Wizards.

Notes:

JJ Redick met with the Dallas media for the first time on Thursday. Redick and Nicolo Melli were acquired by the Mavs from New Orleans before the trade deadline.

Redick appeared in 31 games this season for New Orleans, averaging 8.7 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists. The 36-year-old Redick, who is out with a right heel injury, wanted to be traded to an East Coast team. However, he’s excited to play with Doncic and Porzingis.

“Well, they’re great players,” he said. “I’m very excited to play with them. In a sense, they’re both the proverbial unicorn. There’s not many people at seven-foot-three that can do what KP does, and Luka is as good as anybody in the league at creating his own shot and creating for other people. I’ve been very fortunate to play with some great players in my career, and those two guys are going to be at top of the list for sure.”

Cavs’ Love: ‘So happy to be back out there, not hurting, just feeling like myself’

Seeing Kevin Love and Matthew Dellavedova in uniform was a welcomed sight for the Cleveland Cavaliers as they hosted the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night. In the first quarter, Love was on fire. He scored all 13 of his points in nine minutes of action, including 3/5 from three-point range. However, he would not score another point the rest of the way.

Cleveland, who trailed 58-56 at halftime, would struggle in the third quarter and be outscored by 10 points, and they would lose to Philadelphia 114-94 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Cleveland has lost four straight and five of their last six games.

Shake Milton had a game-high 27 points for the 76ers off the bench, while Collin Sexton led Cleveland with 24 points and Dean Wade chipped in 16 points. Entering this game, Cleveland was 2-0 against Philadelphia this season.

The third quarter has been a struggle for the Cavaliers this season, and last night Cleveland shot 35% from the field in that quarter, including 0/5 from downtown. Philly would take a 14-point lead into the fourth quarter and would lead by as much as 26 points in the final period.

While the Cavaliers lost on Thursday night, seeing the 32-year-old Love out there and active was a good sign for Cleveland. Love played 20 minutes against the 76ers. After the game, Love, who missed 43 games due to a calf injury, discussed his performance against Philadelphia.

“I think, naturally, just winded. First and foremost,” Love said. “I felt a lot more like myself. I’m, obviously, not there yet but knew that I was coming into this game, I felt confident that I could get in some sort of a rhythm. It, again, just made me so happy to go out there and just play basketball… So happy to be back out there, not hurting, just feeling like myself. That really made me happy.”

Dellavedova made his season debut against Philadelphia on Thursday night after missing time due to a concussion and Appendectomy. While he went 0/4 from the field and did not score in 15 minutes of action, Dellavedova was happy to be out there.

“It was, obviously, tough being out for that long,” he said. “I finally shook like the neck thing. I was hoping to try to play before the break, then I had to go get my appendix out, so I’m just really excited and grateful to be back out there. I appreciate the support of my family, wife, friends, teammates, all the medical staff here, and also, J.B.(Bickerstaff) and Koby(Altman) for sticking with me.”

Injuries have hurt the Cavaliers this season, and on Thursday night, they had their 22nd different starting lineup. However, a lot of teams have dealt with a lot of things this season. Getting Love back helps, and they will get Larry Nance Jr.(illness) and Jarrett Allen(concussion) back soon as they try to make a run for that 10th and final spot(3.0 games behind the Bulls) in the Eastern Conference. 

Photo: @cavs/twitter

NBA Draft set for July 29

 The 2021 NBA Draft will take place on July 29, the league announced on Monday. 

ESPN and ABC will televise the first round, and the second round will air on ESPN. The location of the draft will be announced at a later date, according to the NBA.

The NBA also announced additional key dates related to the draft:

• NBA Draft Combine: Subject to evolving public health conditions, NBA Draft Combine 2021 is scheduled to take place Monday, June 21 through Sunday, June 27. ESPN networks plan to televise the NBA Draft Combine, with coverage featuring five-on-five games and strength and agility testing.

• NBA Draft Lottery: NBA Draft Lottery 2021 presented by will take place on Tuesday, June 22, airing on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. ET.

• NBA Early Entry Application and Withdrawal Deadlines: The deadline for an early entry player to apply for this year’s NBA Draft is Sunday, May 30 at 11:59 p.m. ET. The deadline for an early entry player to withdraw from the NBA Draft is Monday, July 19 at 5 p.m. ET.