Mavs’ Kidd on win over Heat: ‘I thought they played for 48 minutes’

Over the last three games, the Dallas Mavericks had no issues scoring(121.3 ppg), but they were not stopping teams from scoring(135.3 ppg), and because of their poor play on defense, the Mavs have lost three straight.

On Friday, they were hoping to get back to playing big-time defense, and on Friday night, they did that.

Dallas(25-22) led the visiting Miami Heat(25-22) pretty much from start to finish as they defeated the Heat 115-90.

Mavs head coach Jason Kidd, who was visibly upset about the team’s defensive performance in their loss to the Hawks on Wednesday night, liked the effort the team played with on Friday night.

“I thought they played for 48 minutes,” Kidd said. “I thought even the group that was in at the end played with energy and effort. I think there was clarity of what we’ve asked them to do in this game plan, and they responded. It wasn’t me calling them out or saying we had a walk-through or shoot-around during the game against Atlanta. You could see they were flying around. Now we’ve got to hold them to that standard.”

After the three quarters, the Mavs held the Heat to 67 points on 44% shooting from the field, including 3/15 from three-point range, and Dallas took a 25-point lead into the fourth.

Without Christian Wood(fractured thumb), Dallas went with a smaller lineup, which was effective for the Mavs on both ends of the court. Reggie Bullock, who had 15 points on 5-6 shooting from three-point range, said the work on the defensive end was a collective effort.

“It was just a team effort,” Bullock said. “Obviously, [the lineup] was a lot smaller tonight; people were flying around, giving multiple efforts, trying to take away 3s from them. But it was just the effort that guys put in, the five that Coach [Jason Kidd] put out there.”

Notes:

-Luka Doncic had a game-high 34 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists. Doncic is averaging a league-best 33.7 points per game, slightly ahead of Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (33.6 ppg).

-Spencer Dinwiddie contributed 19 points, third rebounds, and two assists. Over his last four games, Dinwiddie is averaging 23.0 points and 5.8 assists per game.

Mavs’ Wood: ‘Luka’s (Doncic) playing like an MVP’

On Thursday, Luka Doncic continued his push for the MVP against the Rockets.

After having a 60-point triple-double in Dallas’ win over the Knicks on Tuesday night, Doncic was just as good against Houston as he had 35 points, 12 rebounds, and 13 assists; he recorded a 30-point triple-double in the first three-quarters of the game, and ultimately, the Mavs would roll over Houston 129-114 at American Airlines Center.

The Mavs(20-16) finished their three-game homestand 3-0 and have won five straight. 

In the last two games, Doncic has posted 95 points, 34 rebounds, and 23 assists. In addition, he has scored the most points in consecutive triple-doubles in the history of the NBA, passing Russell Westbrook’s record of 94 points and his 151 total points+rebounds+assists are the third-most in consecutive triple-doubles in NBA history.

According to Christian Wood, who had 21 points, six rebounds, and four blocks against Houston, the Mavs are having success because the team is playing together, and Doncic is playing like an MVP.

“We’re just playing together,” Wood said. “If you look at the last game, we stayed together even though everybody probably thought we were gonna lose. Today, we stayed together, and everybody was moving the ball. Even in the game before that, we were just piggybacking off of each other and playing off of each other. It’s really working out. Also, you know, Luka’s [Luka Dončić] playing like an MVP. But, in terms of the team, we’ve been doing great together.”

Dwight Powell, who was 8/8 from the field and finished was a season-high 19 points, agrees with Wood; the Mavs are playing together.

“We’ve been trusting each other,” Wood said. “There’s obviously been ups and downs. Clearly, there have been some games that some people counted us out, during the game, but we stuck together. That’s one of the biggest things for us, is trusting one another and staying together regardless of the situation and having that next man up mentality.”

During their five-game winning streak, Doncic is averaging a triple-double with 40.4 points, 11.8 rebounds, 10.4 assists, and 2.2 steals per game.

Obviously he’s not going to average 40 points a game, but Doncic is going to get his numbers, but those numbers mean nothing if Dallas does not win; however, this five-game winning streak could mean the Mavs had turned the corner, and on their way to becoming the team many thought they would be when the season started.

Dallas heads to San Antonio to face the Spurs on Saturday night.

Doncic on third quarter vs. Lakers: ‘I think we just played with pace, played with smiles on our faces’

Christmas Day basketball could have started better for the Dallas Mavericks(18-16) against the visiting Lakers(13-20). In fact, the Lakers led by as many as 14 points in the first half and took a 54-43 lead at halftime.

However, in the third quarter, the Mavs woke up. They scored 51 points in the quarter on 72% shooting, including 61% from deep. The 51 points are tied for the most in a quarter in franchise history and are also the most in a quarter by any team on Christmas Day ever.

Ultimately, the Mavs would defeat the Lakers 124-115 at American Airlines Center.

Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 16 of his 26 points (6-14 3FG) in the third quarter; he felt Dallas was a little nervous early but got comfortable in the third.

“I think we had to get the jitters out of us for a little bit,” he said. “It was some guys’ first time ever playing on Christmas Day. Just being able to appreciate the opportunity for the most part and being able to go out there and get the nerves and the butterflies out of your system. I think that’s what happened, and [we] came out in the second half more aggressive, pushing the pace instead of walking the ball up the floor, and getting the ball moving, and knocking down our shots.”

Luka Doncic, who scored 13 of his franchise-record 32 points in a Christmas Day game, to go along with nine rebounds, and nine assists, battled double teams all game long, says the team played with pace in the third.

“I would say the 51 points we scored,” Doncic said. “I think was a franchise record in a quarter. I think we just played with pace, played with smiles on our faces, and kept going since I was being doubled every possession in this game. We just had to play out of that because it was the right play, and that’s what we did.”

In his Christmas Day debut, Christian Wood scored nine of his 30 points in the third. He also added eight rebounds, seven assists, four steals, and two blocks. Wood felt honored to star on Christmas Day.

“It’s amazing. It’s a blessing,” he said. “I used to be that kid sitting at home watching Kobe [Bryant], watching LeBron [James]. That D-Wade, LeBron pass. Just to be playing against him on Christmas Day, specifically, is a blessing. It’s an honor, so I was happy and ready to go tonight.”

Dallas has now won three straight and has an opportunity to string together some wins as the Knicks and Rockets come to town, and they go on the road for two more against the Spurs and Rockets.

We’ll see if the Mavs can make a push.

Notes:

Before the game, Dirk Nowitzki’s statue was unveiled. Nowitzki played an NBA record 21 seasons with Mavs and helped lead Dallas to the franchise’s only championship in 2011. After the game, Doncic talked about Dirk’s statue.

“Oh, it was brilliant,” he said. “I’m just really happy for him. He deserves all the things that are happening to him, and it was amazing. The statue looks amazing, and he deserves it.”

The Lakers were led by LeBron James, who scored a game-high 38 points (13-23 FG) to go with 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Today was his 17th career Christmas Day game, passing Kobe Bryant for the most games played on the holiday.

Doncic on big dunk: ‘I probably have the most bounce on the team’

Luka Doncic and Christian Wood are the top two scorers for the Dallas Mavericks, and those two helped the Mavs rout the Blazers 130-110 at American Airlines Center on Friday night.

Dallas led 62-53 at halftime and busted things wide open in the third as they took their largest lead of the game of 27 points in that quarter.

Doncic led the Mavericks with 33 points, six rebounds, and nine assists, and Wood scored a season-high 32 points to go with 12 rebounds off the bench. Wood became only the 30th player in the shot clock era to record 32-plus points and 12-plus rebounds off the bench.

Mavs head coach Jason Kidd was happy with the efforts of Wood on both ends of the court.

“I thought C-Wood (Christian Wood) was great offensively and defensively,” Kidd said. “He did a great job. Being able to play through him in the second quarter was huge for us. Again, the time he was on the floor – on both ends – he gave us a lift tonight.”

Wood gave the Mavs a big boost in the first half, scoring 20 points in the half, including 15 points in the second quarter.

According to Wood, he was looking to be aggressive on the offensive end.

“I was trying to be aggressive; the team knew I had it going. If you watch the film, we kept running the same play over and over because, frankly, they couldn’t stop it,” he said. “They kept finding me and getting me the ball; my teammates trust me to score. That’s what I am here for is to score, and to help these guys off the bench, and I feel like I did a great job today.”

Doncic added on Wood’s play in the first half: “I think he did amazing on offense, obviously. I think on the defensive end; he was really, really paying attention today. Really just focusing, and that’s what helped us a lot. He’s big down there, so he helps us a lot. So today, he was really focused on both ends.”

The night’s highlight was Doncic making another poster when he dunked on Drew Eubanks in the third quarter; Doncic and Kidd reacted to the dunk after the game.

“I probably have the most bounce on the team,” Doncic said about the dunk. “You know, [Christian Wood], I was telling him he is only length, and he’s got no bounce. So I had to show him.”

Kidd was impressed.

“It was pretty impressive,” Kidd said. “He can get off the ground. It’s impressive, the load that he carries and the things that he can do, and he can still surprise you with something. That was big time.”

Dallas heads on the road to battle the Cavs on Saturday night. On Wednesday night, the Mavs were defeated by Cleveland 105-90, so they will have an opportunity for revenge.

Doncic, Wood getting it done for Dallas

The Dallas Mavericks(1-1) were relentless in their victory over the Memphis Grizzlies(2-1) on Saturday night. Dallas led from start to finish and led by as many as 42 points in this one. Ultimately, the Mavericks would defeat the Grizzlies 137-96 in their home opener at American Airlines Center.

Dallas led 39-17 after the first quarter; from there, they cruised the rest of the way. After the win, Mavs head coach Jason Kidd discussed the team’s fast start.

“I thought Luka [Doncic] and those guys set the tone in the first quarter by the paint touches,” he said. “We got good looks, make or miss. Defensively, we talked about rebounding the ball, and I thought those guys set the tone there, too.”

Doncic added about the fast start: “I think it’s important to start good. I think a couple games last year, especially in the playoffs in the first two games against the Suns, our start was not good. That’s why I want to improve that this year.”

For the second straight game, Doncic and Christian Wood were the top two leading scorers for the Mavericks. Doncic scored 21 of his game-high 32 points in the first quarter, seven rebounds, and 10 assists. Wood added 25 points and a game-high 12 rebounds off the bench. 

After two games, these two love playing with each other.

“I mean, it’s been great,” Doncic said. “He’s an amazing player; he listens to us, he accepts his role. He’s just doing amazing stuff out there. It’s only been two games, but he’s going to be very good for us.”

“Fun, I mean, he does some things,” Wood said about playing with Doncic. “Last year playing against him … it’s incredible. I don’t even know what to talk about. The things he does on the offensive end, the passes he makes, how he gets everybody set up, it’s amazing.”

The two connected on a spectacular alley-o0p. Watch below:

Wood discussed the amazing play.

“He actually knew exactly what he was going to do that whole entire play,” Wood said. “He told me just catch the lob, I’m just gonna get to the paint and stay and be the dunker. That’s one of the incredible plays he makes, being on the receiving end of it is fun.”

It’s way early, but Wood, who the team acquired from the Rockets in the offseason, definitely looks like a weapon, and a player that appears to make the Mavs a better team.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on loss to Rockets: ‘We just didn’t play well’

The Cavaliers came into Houston Wednesday night to battle the Rockets, a team that has not won at home since December 8. However, for the second consecutive game, Cleveland did not have their leading scorer Darius Garland(back), and it showed.

The Rockets had six players in double figures, led by Jalen Green and Christian Wood’s 21 points apiece as they upended the Cavs 115-104 at Toyota Center.

Houston(15-36) snapped an 11-game home losing streak with the win and their four-game losing streak overall. Cleveland(31-21) falls to fifth in the Eastern Conference and is two games behind the Bulls for the top spot in the conference.

Here is the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Rockets:

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-After scoring four points in the win over the Pelicans, Evan Mobley bounced back. He had a double-double with a career and game-high 29 points to go along with 12 rebounds. Mobley had a double-double in the first half. This is how you come back after a bad performance. The great LeBron James is the last rookie in Cavs’ history to have more points and rebounds in a game.

-Kevin Love also gave the Cavs a double-double. Love had 21 points and 13 rebounds off the bench. He, too, had a double-double in the first half. According to Elias Sports, the last time the Cavs had two players with double-doubles in a single half was when Love and LeBron did it back in 2014. In addition, Love became the seventh player in team history to record 4,000 rebounds.

Points in the Paint: Cleveland had to go inside without Garland, and they scored 60 of their 104 points in the paint. They were led by Mobley, who was dominant in the lane.

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

Turnovers: The Cavs had 19 turnovers, leading to 27 points for Houston. Cleveland is currently 28th in turnovers per game(15.0). It’s hard to win, even against bad teams, when you turn the ball over 19 times.

-Free Throw Line: Cleveland struggled at the line against the Rockets, and they shot 15/27(56%) from the charity stripe. The Cavs lost by 11 points. If they make their free throws, maybe it’s a different game.

Three-point Shooting: The Cavs had a hard time from downtown. Cleveland shot 7/21(33%) from deep. Love had the most struggles from three-point range as he shot 1/7.

Defense: The Cavs allowed a team to score 115 points for the second time in three games. The Rockets are fifth in the NBA in points in the paint, and they reached their average as they scored 48 points in the paint Wednesday night. 

Second Quarter: Cleveland trailed 32-31 after one quarter, but things fell apart in the second. Houston had their largest lead of the game of 15 points in the quarter, and the Cavs were fighting uphill the rest of the way. The Rockets led 64-53 at halftime.

Officiating: This game did not have much of flow, and that was because of the foul calls. There was 50 fouls called in this game. The two teams combined for 60 free throws.

Bottom Line:

Again, this was a winnable game for the Cavs. However, the offense did not have much of a flow against Houston, and the Cavs just could not find their rhythm without Garland. 

The last three games against the Pistons, Pelicans, and Rockets were very winnable for the Cavs. However, the Cavs were 1-2 in those games, and even though they did not have Garland in two of those games, they still had to find a way to win.

“We just didn’t play well,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said post-game. “Credit to the Rockets, don’t take anything away from what they did, but we didn’t get the job done at the level that we’re capable of tonight.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland travels to Charlotte to battle the Hornets Friday night.

Best of the Rest:

-Cedi Osman had 13 points; Jarrett Allen and Isaac Okoro added 11 points apiece for Cleveland.

-For Houston, former Cav Kevin Porter Jr. and Garrison Mathews had 16 points apiece.

Watch below as Mobley and Love react to the loss:

Spurs’ Popovich on Rockets: ‘We had four or five guys who were out to lunch’

The Houston Rockets were a depleted team on Thursday night. Due to the James Harden trade and injuries to John Wall and Eric Gordon, Houston had nine players against the Spurs, but those nine players came up huge, especially Christian Wood, who had a team-high 27 points and 15 rebounds, as the Rockets defeated San Antonio on the road 109-105.

This was a very disappointing loss for the Spurs, who were led by Keldon Johnson’s career-high 29 points, and after the game, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich felt some of his players were not ready to play against the Rockets.

“This has nothing to do with defense, offense,” Popovich said. “This has to do with between the ears. Being ready to play. We had four or five guys who were out to lunch.”

When asked if he was surprised by his team’s effort against Houston, Popovich has this to say:

“It doesn’t matter if it surprises me or not. We did what we did.” 

According to Spurs G Lonnie Walker IV, who scored 16 points on Thursday night, the Rockets played harder than San Antonio.

“They just played harder,” Walker said. “They played from the first quarter to the fourth, they played harder. It’s just that simple.”

Walker also felt the undermanned Rockets played like they had something to prove.

“They had something to prove,” he said. “They felt disrespected, so that energy and animosity built up inside of them. They were definitely ready to play this game. You could tell on the court just by their effort defensively, second-chance points, grabbing rebounds, and all those types of things.”

In an 82-game season(72 this year), losses like this happen, especially with a young team like San Antonio. Fortunately for the Spurs, they have a chance to get revenge on Saturday night against Houston. Based on Pop’s reaction after this loss, expect a much better effort from this team on Saturday night.

Notes:

DeMar DeRozan made his return on Thursday night after missing two games due to traveling to California to be with his ill father. In his return, DeRozan struggled early, but scored 10 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter.

Watch an angry Pop below: