Popovich on Luka: ‘His skills are top-notch’

The Dallas Mavericks got out early against the Spurs on Friday night in San Antonio, and because of the greatness of Luka Doncic, they were able to hold the lead and defeat the Spurs 122-117.

Doncic finished the game with a near triple-double and had 36 points, 11 assists, and nine rebounds. Dallas led the Spurs by as many as 18 points in this contest, and led by ten going into the fourth quarter.

However, the Spurs, who lost starting PG Dejounte Murray to a sprained ankle in the first quarter, were able to cut the lead to one late in the fourth, but Doncic hit a beautiful short bank shot to put Dallas up three, and on the next possession, Doncic drove to the lane and passed it out to Jalen Brunson who hit a dagger three to cement the game. 

After the win, Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle talked about Doncic’s playmaking down the stretch of games. 

“It’s clear that Luka has great trust in his teammates,” Carlisle said. “The Denver game was another very close game. Milwaukee game was very close. In those situations, he made the right basketball play, got the ball to his teammates, and his teammates stepping into shots with force and confidence.”

Brunson, who had 16 points against San Antonio, added this about Doncic: “He does a lot for our team, makes a lot of plays for himself and for everybody else. I was ready just in case he wanted to dish it out to me, and I was ready to knock it down.”

Dallas was in the bottom half of the league in terms of winning close games last season. In this game, things got tough down the stretch against San Antonio, and Doncic and the Mavs executed.

“I think the biggest thing is making better decisions,” Doncic said about late game situations. “I think, give up a good shot for a better shot. I think that’s the key.”

Doncic is a stud, and it is a joy to watch when he is at his best. Before the game, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich talked about what makes Doncic so good.

“He is a quintessential basketball player,” Popovich said. “He has an intrinsic feel for the game. He was built for this game… At that size to have that passing ability, that vision of the court. The confidence he plays with. He shoots the ball well. He competes; he’s just in love with the game of basketball, and his skills are top-notch, so he’s just a joy to watch.

After losing three straight, Dallas has now won two in a row and will go for three consecutive wins at home against the Rockets on Saturday night.

Watch as Pop talks Luka Doncic:

Carlisle on Trey Burke: ‘He’s a weapon; he’s a dangerous scorer

Due to NBA health and safety protocols, the Mavericks were without three players on Saturday night against the Magic. Josh Richardson, Jalen Brunson, and Dorian Finney-Smith all missed Saturday’s game, and with those guys out, others had to step up.

Luka Doncic stepped up with a triple-double(20 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists), Tim Hardaway Jr. returned to the starting lineup and scored 36 points, and Trey Burke came off the bench and scored 29 points as the Mavericks defeated Orlando 112-98 at American Airlines Center. 

Burke entered Saturday’s game averaging 13.9 ppg against Orlando, his third-highest scoring average against any franchise. He was a walking bucket against the Magic. In 21 minutes, Burke went 11-13 from the field, including 7-8 from three-point range. Burke and Hardaway Jr. combined for 15 three-point field goals against the Magic.

“He’s(Burke) a weapon; he’s a dangerous scorer,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said. “One reason that I think he plays well for us is that he knows we have great confidence in him. He’s a guy that can just get white-hot out there. We had some luck with the mid-pick-and-roll with him. He did a lot of other good things off of movement. He’s a shotmaker. If you’re going to lose a guy like Seth Curry in a trade, being able to pick up a guy like Trey Burke is really important. Again, I can’t stress enough how important Burke was.”

Burke, who missed Thursday’s win against the Nuggets due to illness, was happy to get back on the court on Saturday, and according to him, after he hit his first shot, he felt relaxed.

“I just let the game come to me, he said. “Obviously, I had been out for 48 hours, and you know that initially being out just one day you can feel that in your wind out there. I was really focused a lot on how I felt wind wise. The ball found me right when I got in, and it was a wide-open shot, so I just locked in, focused on my breathing, hit the shot, and I think once I hit that first one, I just relaxed. I think teammates did a great job feeding hot hands tonight.”

Burke has taken advantage of this opportunity with the Mavericks and is a guy who can score in many different ways, as he demonstrated against the Magic. With so much uncertainty with COVID-19, guys like Burke will be counted on to have big nights for the Mavericks going forward.

 

 

 

 

Mavs’ Doncic: ‘We box out, we win the game’

Playing good defense in the NBA requires players to contest shots and try to stay in front of the offensive player, and at the end, grabbing the rebound on a missed shot. 

On Christmas day against the Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks may have done some of that, but they did not do the rebounding part. Dallas allowed the Lakers to have 35 second-chance points to the Mavericks zero. Ultimately, the world-champion Los Angeles(1-1) would rout Dallas(0-2) 138-115 at Staples Center on Friday night. 

Mavericks-Lakers was the marquee matchup on Christmas day in the NBA. LeBron James against Luka Doncic. James would finish 22 points, 10 assists, and 8 rebounds, while Doncic poured in 27 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds, but unfortunately for Dallas, LeBron had more help. Anthony Davis led all scorers with 28 points, and Montrezl Harrell chipped in 22 points off the bench.

According to Doncic, the Mavericks’ inability to rebound cost them this game.

“I’m not surprised we lost,” he said. “You can’t win a game when second-chance points is 35 to zero. It’s as simple as that. We box out, we win the game. It’s that simple. I think we did some great stuff on defense, but at the end, you have to finish with the boxing out, and that’s what we gotta work on…

“I think it’s everything about mentality and toughness. It’s gotta be mental. If somebody is rebounding like that, you just have to box them out no matter what. Somebody else is going to get the rebound. Like I said, we have to work on it, and we just gotta get better.”

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle added: “A team has given up 35 points second chance and had gotten zero. It’s obviously the story of the game.”

At this point, Dallas is missing what Kristaps Porzingis brings to the table. They miss his scoring(20.4 ppg last season) and his ability to rebound(9.5 rpg). Porzingis is expected to return sometime in January after he needed surgery to repair a torn meniscus back in October. 

You’re not going to win in the NBA when you get beat that bad on the glass. The Lakers out-hustled and dominated Dallas on Friday night. After two games, the Mavericks remain winless as they get ready to battle the Clippers on Sunday, which will be another challenging game. Dallas has to find a way to bring more energy and effort against the Clippers if they want to get their first win of the season. 

The first two games have been a disappointment, but fortunately for Dallas, there is a lot of basketball left in the season.

Luka on Morris: ‘He’s just saying a lot of bad stuff to me in all the games’

On Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Clippers showed why many believe they can win an NBA title this season. Behind Paul George’s 35 points and Kawhi Leonard’s 32 points, Los Angeles routed the Mavericks 154-111 in Game 5 of their Western Conference first-round series to go up 3-2.

However, after the game, the talk was about Luka Doncic and Marcus Morris Sr. In the third quarter, Morris stepped on Doncic’s injured ankle, which he sprained in Game 3. 

Was it done on purpose? 

You be the judge:

“I’ve seen it, yeah, of course,” Doncic said after the game about the replay of Morris stepping on his ankle. “I have my own thoughts. I hope it wasn’t intentional. Tell me, what do you think? I just hope it wasn’t intentional. Every person is going to have their own thoughts.”

Doncic has no plans of talking to Morris moving forward.

“I don’t want to talk to him,” Doncic said. “He’s just saying a lot of bad stuff to me in all the games. I don’t want to talk to him. I’ve just got to move on. Like I said, everybody is going to have their own opinion. I just hope It wasn’t intentional. If that was intentional, that was really bad.”

According to Morris, stepping on Doncic’s ankle was not purposely done. Here’s what Morris wrote on Twitter concerning the play:

 

 

It’s hard to say if it was intentional, and in reality, the only person that would know is Morris. This series is getting chippier by the game and should be interesting to see how Dallas responds in Game 6.

Luka on Kawhi: ‘He’s always in the zone’

The Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard for the situation we saw on Friday night. Leonard, who came to the Clippers after leading the Raptors to an NBA title last season, had 36 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists, as the Clippers defeated the Mavericks 130-122 to take 2-1 lead in their best of seven first-round series. 

When he is flowing, Leonard is tough to stop. On Friday, he set a franchise record by scoring 100 points in the first three games of the playoffs, and after the game, the Mavericks reacted to Leonard’s greatness.

“He’s always in the zone. He’s a top-three player in the league,” Luka Doncic, who had a triple-double on Friday night, said after the game. “It’s really tough to stop him. He’s an amazing player, amazing defender. It’s really hard to stop him. I think Maxi [Kleber] is doing an amazing job, DoeDoe[Dorian Finney-Smith]. It’s just hard. He’s an amazing player.”

Tim Hardaway jr. on Leonard:

“Kawhi is going to do what Kawhi does out there on the floor, but we have to give their supporting cast a pat on the back. They did a great job of knocking down their shots, open or contested, and taking advantage of their matchups and just being aggressive out there on the floor. So the difference between last game and this game is when the bench came out and when the other players got involved, they made the most of it, and they took advantage of the opportunity.”

Seth Curry on Leonard:

“It is just tough. We were playing good defense, and he was making shots over us. When we played even better defense and felt like we got to the front of him, he got to the foul line. It was tough. We have to make adjustments, come back next game, stick our game plan, and try to be even better. Tonight, it was just going in; we have to take something away. Tonight we didn’t take anything away from him. He got everything he wanted, and they put him at the foul line.”

With the uncertainty of Doncic after he left and returned and left again due to an ankle injury, the Mavericks could be in trouble moving forward. Still, Friday was  all about the greatness of Kawhi Leonard. 

 

NBA announces Mavericks-Clippers first round playoff schedule

The No. 7 seed Dallas Mavericks announced today the schedule for their first round playoff series with the No. 2 seed L.A. Clippers, which will open on Monday, Aug. 17 at 8 p.m. CT and be broadcast live on ESPN and Fox Sports Southwest.

Games 2 and 3 of the series, which are scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 19, and Friday, Aug. 21, respectively, will also tip-off at 8 p.m. CT and will be broadcast live on TNT and Fox Sports Southwest. Game 4 will be played on Sunday, Aug. 23 at 2:30 p.m. CT and be carried exclusively by ABC.

If necessary, Games 5, 6 and 7 are scheduled for Aug. 25, Aug. 27 and Aug. 29, respectively (game times and TV schedule TBD).

Dallas is set to make its 22nd playoff appearance (first since 2016) in the franchise’s 40-year history. The Mavericks have now made the playoffs 16 times in the last 20 years.

2020 DALLAS MAVERICKS FIRST ROUND PLAYOFF SCHEDULE 

GAME

DATE

OPPONENT

TIME (CT)

ARENA

TV

1

Monday, Aug. 17

@ L.A. Clippers

8:00 p.m.

AdventHealth Arena

ESPN/FSSW

2

Wednesday, Aug. 19

@ L.A. Clippers

8:00 p.m.

AdventHealth Arena

TNT/FSSW

3

Friday, Aug. 21

vs. L.A. Clippers

8:00 p.m.

AdventHealth Arena

TNT/FSSW

4

Sunday, Aug. 23

vs. L.A. Clippers

2:30 p.m.

AdventHealth Arena

ABC

5*

Tuesday, Aug. 25

@ L.A. Clippers

TBD

TBD

6*

Thursday, Aug. 27

vs. L.A. Clippers

TBD

ESPN/FSSW

7*

Saturday, Aug. 29

@ L.A. Clippers

TBD

TNT/FSSW

        * If necessary

Luka on playing Clips in playoffs: ‘I think some people count us out, but we’re not out’

If the regular season series against the Clippers is any indication, the Dallas Mavericks could be in trouble. The Mavericks, who are pretty much locked in the 7th-seed(3.0 games behind 6th-seeded Thunder), will probably battle the 2nd-seeded Clippers(1.5 games up on 3rd-seeded Denver) in the first round of the playoffs.

Last night, the Mavericks'(41-30) struggles against the Clippers(46-22) continued. Behind Kawhi Leonard’s 29 points, Paul George’s 24 points, and Ivica Zubac’s 21 points, including 10-10 from the field, Los Angeles would defeat Dallas 120-111 in Orlando. With the loss, Dallas is 0-3 against the Clippers this season. 

On the surface, going 0-3 against the Clippers does not bode well for the Mavericks, but according to Luka Doncic, who scored 29 points last night, people should not count out Dallas.

“We always have chances,” Doncic said about the possibility of playing Clippers in playoffs. “You know we’re a great team. We always got chances, no matter what. I think some people count us out, but we’re not out. I think we have chances, so we’ll give it our best.”

Mavericks’ Kristaps Porzingis, who scored a game-high 30 points last night, looks forward to the challenge of playing the Clippers in the playoffs.

“That is obviously going to be a tough matchup,” Porzingis said. “They are one of the favorites to win it all. They are a big, physical team that knows how to play, has experience, and have multiple guys that have been there already.

“It is definitely going to be a tough matchup, but we are looking forward to the challenge and getting experience from that.”

The Clippers are a championship-caliber team. Los Angeles has arguably two top ten NBA players in Leonard and George. Additionally, they have two outstanding players coming off the bench in Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. Los Angeles is built to win now, and at this point, the Mavericks still have some growing to do. With Doncic and Porzingis, Dallas can give the Clippers a tough series, but they probably don’t have enough.

However, anything can happen in the NBA bubble.

Mavs’ Carlisle on Burke: ‘The guy can flat out score the ball’

  Coming out of Michigan, the one thing we knew about Mavericks G Trey Burke was his ability to score. At times, Burke has shown that in the NBA, including a career-high 42 points while with the Knicks in 2019.

Unfortunately for Burke, who signed with the 76ers last offseason, he did not get much of an opportunity to showcase his skills. Ultimately, he waived by the team in February.

Now, the 27-year-old Burke, who signed with the Mavericks in July, a team he played for in 2019, is getting a chance with Dallas, and he is producing. On Friday, the six-year veteran scored a season-high 31 points, and on Tuesday, Burke hit two clutch free throws to help the Mavericks defeat the Kings in OT. 

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle is very excited about what Bruke has done for Dallas.

“Trey has been terrific,” Carlisle said after the team’s win on Tuesday. “He is enthusiastic. He has improved defensively, and you know he can score the ball down the stretch. Those two free throws at the end of the game basically put the game away. Our guys had the confidence to get the ball in his hands, so I’m really impressed with how he’s really evolved his game over the last couple years. We had a great experience with him after the trade with New York.

“I was sorry that we were unable to bring him back because he impressed everybody with his character and his ability to score the ball and play the game. He just keeps getting better in all the areas. His vision keeps improving. His defense keeps improving. As I mentioned, the guy can flat out score the ball, and he puts pressure on the rim too. He’,s not just a shooter, so I’m really pleased for him. This is a great opportunity for him. I don’t think there’s many guys that have been signed on the COVID exception, or whatever it is, that are taking advantage of their opportunity quite like he is.”

This is an excellent opportunity for Burke, and based on how he’s been used thus far, Burke will probably have a decent role with a playoff team, and considering how he got to this point, you can’t ask for anything more.

Mavericks’ Lee suffers calf injury

Dallas Mavericks G Courtney Lee suffered a left calf injury during the NBA hiatus, the team announced today. According to the Mavericks, the 34-year-old Lee will not be available when the team resumes organized workouts on July 1. 

No timetable for his return has been set at this time. 

In 24 games, Lee averaged 4.5 points, 1.3 rebounds, and 0.5 assists per game. Lee played well in March before the shutdown. He averaged 6.6 points per game, including shooting 46.7% from three-point land. 

The NBA is expected to resume on July 30 in Orlando.

 

Dončić named Western Conference Player of the Month

The NBA announced today that Mavericks guard Luka Dončić was named the Kia NBA Western Conference Player of the Month for games played in October/November. The 20-year-old becomes the first Maverick to garner the award since Dirk Nowitzki in April 2009. He also becomes the youngest Western Conference Player of the Month winner since the league began issuing the award by conference in 2001-02.

Dončić (6-7, 230) has led the Mavericks to a 13-6 (.684) start in 2019-20 with averages of 30.6 points, 9.9 rebounds, 9.6 assists and 1.53 steals per game (all team highs). The second-year Slovenian has recorded a league-high seven triple-doubles this season. He also ranks third in the league in scoring (30.6 ppg), second in assists (9.6 apg), 15th in rebounding (9.9 rpg) and tied for 12th in steals (1.53 spg).

This marks the eighth time in franchise history that a Maverick has won Player of the Month honors. Nowitzki was the sole recipient of the award five times in his career (for December 2004, February 2005, December 2005, February 2007 and April 2009) and also shared the honor with Michael Finley and Steve Nash in November 2002. Aguirre was the first Maverick ever to take home the award, winning it for January 1984. Dončić becomes the first Dallas player under 24 to win the award (Aguirre and Nowitzki were both 24 when they first won it).

Dončić has scored at least 20 points in 18 of Dallas’ first 19 games this season, including 25-plus points 16 times, 30-plus points 10 times and 40-plus points on three occasions (the Mavericks are a perfect 3-0 this year when he goes for 40-or-more points).

The reigning Kia NBA Rookie of the Year is currently riding a streak of 15 consecutive games with at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists, which is tied for the fourth-longest such streak since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976-77 (LeBron James also went for 20-5-5 in 15 straight games in 2017-18). Michael Jordan (18 games in 1988-89) has recorded the longest 20-5-5 streak since the merger, while Russell Westbrook (17 games in 2014-15 and 16 games in 2017-18) has posted the second and third-longest such streaks.

In 14 games in November, Dončić averaged 32.4 points, 10.3 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game en route to becoming just the third player in NBA history to average a 30-point triple-double over any calendar month (minimum 10 games played). Oscar Robertson (5 times) and Westbrook (twice) also achieved the feat. In fact, Dončić became only the fifth player in league history to even average a triple-double during any calendar month, along with Westbrook (8 times), Robertson (7 times), Wilt Chamberlain (twice) and James (once).

The former EuroLeague MVP was named Western Conference Player of the Week for games played from Monday, Nov. 18 through Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, after he led the Mavericks to a perfect 4-0 week with averages of 37.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 11.8 assists per game and victories over San Antonio (Nov. 18), Golden State (Nov. 20), Cleveland (Nov. 22) and Houston (Nov. 24). He produced at least 30 points and 10 assists in all four games, becoming the youngest player in NBA history (20 years, 269 days) to record four consecutive 30-point, 10-assist efforts. He also led the Mavericks to their first five-game win streak (Nov. 16 to Nov. 24, 2019) since 2016.

Dončić recorded three 40-point, 10-assist outings within a span of six games from Nov. 18 to Nov. 29. He tallied a career-high 42 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds vs. San Antonio (Nov. 18), 41 points, 10 assists and six rebounds at Houston (Nov. 24), and a career-high-tying 42 points, 11 assists and nine boards at Phoenix (Nov 29). The 6-7 guard has more 40-point, 10-assist games (3) than the rest of the NBA combined (2) this season.