Mavs’ Richardson: ‘I think we have a lot of talent from the top to the bottom’

In January, the Dallas Mavericks(28-21) went to Utah to play the Jazz(38-12) in a two-game set, and it was not pretty. Dallas was defeated by double-figures in both games, and was down by 20 points or more in both contests.

Two months later, the Jazz traveled to Dallas to battle the Mavericks on Monday, and this time, it was a much different story. Dallas had five players in double figures led by Luka Doncic’s game-high 31 points to go along with nine rebounds and eight assists. Also, Dorian Finney-Smith had a season-high 23 points, and Jalen Brunson added 20 points off the bench as the Mavericks defeated the Jazz 111-103.

Dallas snapped Utah’s nine-game win streak with the win, which was the longest active win streak in the NBA.

“Every win gives you confidence,” Doncic said. “Any NBA team can beat you, so every win gives you confidence. Obviously, this team is first place in the West, and so it is a big win, and we just have to keep rolling like this.”

The Mavericks are rolling right now. They have now won five straight games, marking their longest win streak of the season. Dallas has won those five games by an average of 13.8 points. In addition, the team has won 13 of its last 18 games and 20 of its last 28 games.

“I like what we’re doing,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said after the game. “I like the direction that we’re going. But if you ask the guys in that locker room, they’re going to tell you we haven’t done anything yet; there’s a long way to go here. There’s a lot of ground to make up that we lost early. We’re trying to get into the top six. We’re really not looking at the standings, but we’re just looking game to game.”

Dallas was without their second-leading scorer Kristaps Porzingis(wrist), but without KP, others stepped up and got it done, which speaks to the Mavericks’ depth. Josh Richardson, who had 17 points against the Jazz, discussed how deep Dallas is this season.

“I think we have a lot of talent from the top to the bottom,” he said. “Anytime you got a guy like Tim [Hardaway], JB [Jalen Brunson], Trey [Burke], guys who can shift the whole momentum of a game coming off the bench, and that’s always a big help. I think we have the personal that anybody any night can really hurt you.”

Dallas is getting it done, and hopefully, they can get Porzingis back sooner than later, but for now, they enjoy a big win over the best team in basketball.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on Sexton, Garland: ‘The numbers they put up are what star backcourts are capable of’

The Cavaliers have not played many complete games this season, but on Monday night in San Antonio, the Cavs did just that.

Cleveland(18-32) won every quarter against the Spurs(24-24) and led by as much as 32 points. The Cavaliers would defeat the Spurs 125-101. Cleveland snapped their five-game losing streak, and the Spurs have now lost three straight. The win over the Spurs was their largest road win for the Cavs since 2017.

The Cavs were led by Darius Garland, who had a career-high 37 points. The second-year guard was 14/22 from the field, including 5-10 from three-point range. Garland also added seven assists. Collin Sexton added 22 points for the Cavs. The Sexton and Garland backcourt combined for 59 points and 12 assists on Monday night. 

Garland has had a lot of success against the Spurs this season. He set his previous career-high of 29 points against San Antonio back in March. According to Garland, he knew that Monday was going to be a good day during shootaround.

“I actually said something at shootaround early this morning,” Garland said. “I was like, ‘It’s going to be a good day.’ Everybody was locked in during shootaround.”

Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was happy with the backcourt play and believes what Sexton and Garland did on Monday night is what elite backcourts do in the NBA.

“The numbers they put up are what star backcourts are capable of,” Bickerstaff said. “That’s what they do consistently. When you think of the elite backcourts in the league, you look at those numbers, and those numbers come consistently, and I think our young guys are still growing. When your backcourt plays like that, that’s how you carry a team.”

Seeing the 21-year-old Garland and the 22-year-old Sexton perform the way they did on Monday night is exciting for the Cavs and gives the team more hope about the future. These two can and have been dynamic at times this season. To Bickerstaff’s point, if they continue to play at this level, Sexton and Garland can carry a team and possibly carry the Cavs to big things for years to come.

Photo: @Cavs/Twitter

Cousins signs 10-day contract with Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers have signed center DeMarcus Cousins to a 10-day contract, the team announced on Monday.

The 30-year-old Cousins was released by the Rockets in February after 25 games with the team. Cousins averaged 9.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in 20.2 minutes. The four-time All-Star returned this season after missing all of last season with a torn ACL.

Cousins holds career averages of 20.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.2 blocks in 590 appearances with the Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Pelicans, Golden State Warriors, and Houston Rockets.

The nine-year veteran is one of 11 players in NBA history to average at least 20.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists. Originally the fifth overall selection in the 2010 NBA Draft, Cousins is a four-time All-Star, a two-time All-NBA Second Team member, and an Olympic Gold Medalist with Team USA.

Cousins was solid for the Rockets and played well at times, including 28 points and 17 rebounds against the Mavericks in January. With Serge Ibaka(back) out, Cousins will have an opportunity to impress the Clippers or other teams in the NBA.

Spurs’ Popovich: ‘It’s a mental toughness thing to get through the schedule’

On March 22, the San Antonio Spurs began their season-long nine-game homestand against the Charlotte Hornets. At the time, the Spurs were 22-18 and the seventh-seed in the Western Conference after going 3-2 on a five-game road trip.

Two weeks later, the Spurs(24-23) are 2-6 in the first eight games of this homestand, and San Antonio is now tied with Memphis for the eighth seed in the West. The Spurs will finish off this homestand on Monday night against the struggling Cavaliers(17-32). 

The Spurs, who have lost two straight, have one of the most demanding schedules for the second half of the season along with the Memphis Grizzlies as each team is scheduled to play 40 games over the next 68 days. The Spurs have played nine games over 15 days, followed by a stretch where they’re playing 17 of 22 games on the road, including seven back-to-backs.

The Spurs and Grizzlies are the only two teams without any two-day breaks, have 11 back-to-backs, and will play more games on the road than at home over the next ten weeks.

In their last outing, San Antonio lost to the shorthanded Indiana Pacers in OT 139-133, which was San Antonio’s second straight overtime loss. Indiana was without their leading-scorer Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon.

After the loss to Indiana, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich made it clear that the team has to keep working.

“We’ll just keep going,” Popovich said. “It’s a mental toughness thing to get through the schedule, and we just move on.”

Playing at home is usually great for young players, and young players tend to perform better at home, but with nine games and 15 nights, and the limited amount fans, home is not the same. The Spurs should defeat the Cavaliers(lost five straight) on Monday night, but based on the way both teams are playing, who knows what will happen.

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.

Herring: ‘They called me every name in the book, but even with the cut, I wasn’t going to give up’

In the biggest fight of his career, Jamel Herring came up big and dominated and then stopped Carl Frampton in the sixth round to retain his WBO junior lightweight world title Saturday from Caesars Bluewaters Dubai.

The 35-year-old Herring (23-2, 11 KOs) dropped Frampton twice in the fight, the second one coming in the sixth round courtesy of a brutal uppercut. A follow-up assault prompted Frampton’s corner to throw in the towel, and with that, Herring gets his signature victory and his first stoppage win since May 2018.

“It was an emotional rollercoaster just to get here,” Herring said. “My last outing was not my best. People doubted me. They called me every name in the book, but even with the cut, I wasn’t going to give up. I wasn’t going to quit, and Carl Frampton is a tremendous champion. I’ve been a fan since day one. It’s tough to see any veteran of the sport go out like that.”

Frampton (28-3, 16 KOs), from Belfast, was attempting to become the first man from the island of Ireland to win world titles in three weight classes. Having fallen short of that goal, the 34-year-old elected to retire.

“I said before the fight I’d retire if I lost, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do,” Frampton said. “I want to just to dedicate my life to my family now. Boxing has been good to me. It’s also been bad to me, but the last few years with these boys have been the best years of my career. I just want to go home to my beautiful wife and kids, and that’s it.

“I just got beat by the better man. I really struggled to get inside on him.”

Will Frampton retire? Who knows. Boxers emotionally retire after fights all the time, so we’ll see what happens next. Regarding Herring, does he unify with WBC 130-pound champion Oscar Valdez, or will he battle WBO number one contender Shakur Stevenson? It should be interesting, but if you’re Herring, you want to unify, so Valdez, who is signed to Top Rank like Herring, and someone he called out after the fight, seems to be the obvious choice. 

Courtesy: D4G Promotions

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