Doncic named Western Conference Player of the Week

The NBA announced today that Mavericks guard Luka Dončić was named the Western Conference Player of the Week for games played from Monday, Jan. 4 through Sunday, Jan. 10. It marks the second time in his career that he has received the honor (Nov. 18 through Nov. 24, 2019) and he joins Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Michael Finley, Mark Aguirre and Josh Howard as one of six Mavericks to garner the award multiple times.

Dončić (6-7, 230) led the Mavericks to a 3-0 week with averages of 30.3 points, 12.0 rebounds and 11.3 assists per game. He recorded a triple-double in two of the three games, finishing one board shy of accomplishing the feat in all three.

The third-year guard opened the week by notching the NBA’s first 30-point triple-double of the season with a 33-point, 16-rebound, 11-assist effort in Dallas’ 113-100 victory at Houston on Jan. 4. Dončić led the Mavericks in points, rebounds and assists for the 39th time in his career (including ties), passing Dirk Nowitzki (38) for the most such games in franchise history. He also dished out his 1,000th career assist against the Rockets, becoming the 11th player in NBA history to reach the milestone before his 22nd birthday.

The 21-year-old followed up his 30-point triple-double by posting team highs of 38 points, nine rebounds, 13 assists and a career-high five steals in Dallas’ 124-117 overtime win at Denver on Jan. 7. He became the first player in league history to hit each of those benchmarks in the same game.

Dončić capped the week with a 20-point, 11-rebound, 10-assist outing in the Mavericks’ 112-98 victory over Orlando on Jan. 9. It marked the 25th 20-point triple-double of his career and he passed Elgin Baylor (24) for the 12th-most 20-point triple-doubles in league history.

In eight games (all starts) this season, Dončić is averaging team highs of 26.6 points (7th in NBA), 9.3 rebounds (16th) and 8.3 assists (6th) per game. He has led the Mavericks to a 4-1 mark in the 2021 calendar year.

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.

 

 

 

 

Patty Mills: ‘He(DeRozan), obviously, loves the big moments’

Saturday night’s road victory for the Spurs(5-4) was all about DeMar DeRozan. The 12-year veteran scored 13 of his game and season-high 38 points in the 4th quarter and overtime, and ultimately, the Spurs would defeat Minnesota(2-7) 125-122 in overtime. The Spurs play Minnesota again on Sunday night

“DeMar won the game for us,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said after the game. “He and Patty(Mills) playing out there with their pick-and-roll created a lot of opportunities. DeMar was the guy.”

Spurs’ Dejounte Murray, who scored 22 points against Minnesota, added this on DeRozan: “He’s a beast. That’s DeMar. Definitely, not the 82nd(ESPN’s list of best players in league) best player in the NBA. Damn sure, tell you that. That’s DeMar; we believe in him. We are really, really confident in him. We got the win; that’s all that matters.”

Late in games, DeRozan is one of the go-to guys for the Spurs, and according to him, it’s his job to make things happen for San Antonio down the stretch.

“It’s a mindset that I have, especially late in games when games are close,” he said. “I feel like It’s imperative; it’s my job to go out there and make something happen and pull out a win.”

Patty Mills, another 12-year veteran, who scored 21 points off the bench against Minnesota, added this about DeRozan: “He(DeRozan), obviously, loves the big moments, and loves to makes plays, loves to make big plays. He lives for those moments.’

San Antonio is 3-0 on their current five-game road trip, including wins over the Clippers and Lakers, and the veterans are leading the way. Patty Mills led the Spurs with 27 points in the team’s win over the Clippers, and LaMarcus Aldridge, a 15-year veteran, led the team with 28 points in San Antonio’s win over the Lakers, and of course, DeRozan’s big-time effort against Minnesota on Saturday night. 

According to Mills, the Spurs’ leaders are showing the young guys what it takes to close out games.

“Not being rattled in those big moments. I think that’s huge,” Mills said. “In terms of leadership and actions. The conversations that we’re having on the side, making sure the young boys understand what we’re doing while we are doing it. Helping them here and there have been good. The actions that we’re showing on the court, knowing who the leaders are and how to go about certain situations, and that helps young guys learn on the fly as well.”

Getting Aldridge back, who missed the team’s winless three-game homestand, helps. Now, after nine games, the Spurs are over .500 and playing some terrific basketball, and the veterans are leading the way.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff: ‘I feel really good about this team’

Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said in the pregame that he wanted his team to make Saturday’s game against Milwaukee as ugly as possible, and they did that, but it was not ugly enough as the Cavaliers(5-5) would end their six-game road trip by losing to the Bucks(6-4) 100-90.

Without Giannis Antetokoumpo(back spasms), the Bucks’ Khris Middleton led Milwaukee with a game-high 27 points. For the Cavs, Andre Drummond had a monster game with 26 points and 24 rebounds, and Damyean Dotson added 21 points.

Cleveland was down seven players again, including their top two scorers, Collin Sexton(ankle) and Darius Garland(shoulder). Even in a loss, Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was proud of his team’s performance.

“They gave us what they had tonight,” Bickerstaff said after the game. “Asking guys to play heavy minutes, carry heavy burdens, and they scrapped, and they competed. We just couldn’t manufacture enough points. Again, I thought our defense was solid. We just struggled to manufacture some points and find some easy buckets tonight…

“I can’t say enough about what these guys are doing. They’re many men down, and they haven’t used it as an excuse. They just continue to go out and scrap. They continued to go out and fight, came up short tonight, but I’m proud of their effort and the way they fought.”

Cleveland ended their six-game road trip at 2-4, which is not a bad road trip when you consider all the injuries. As they prepare to head back to Cleveland on Monday to battle the Grizzles, Bickerstaff is happy with his team after ten games. 

“I feel really good about this team, to be honest with you,” he said. “The things that we say matter most to us, our guys have continued to show. They are competitive; they are selfless, they are together… We continue to play this way; we get healthy; we’re going to be a hard out every night.”

Hopefully, this team can get healthy. To Bickerstaff’s credit, this team does play hard every night, and Bickerstaff is right; if they continue to play hard and get healthy, Cleveland will be a hard out every night for any team in the NBA.

Nance Jr. on Okoro: ‘He’s a winner’

The Cleveland Cavaliers were down another man on Thursday night on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies, and this time, it was their leading scorer. Collin Sexton, who is averaging 25.1 PPG this season, was out against the Grizzlies due to a sprained ankle. 

However, it’s next man up in Cleveland, and the men up stepped up in a big way for the Cavs. Andre Drummond got his usual double-double(ninth-straight) with 22 points and 10 rebounds, Larry Nance was 7-7 from the field and finished with 18 points, and Cedi Osman chipped in with 16 points as the Cavaliers(5-4) defeated the Grizzlies 94-90. 

Cleveland was missing seven players, including Sexton, Kevin Love, and Darius Garland(second-leading scorer). With all that firepower out, Drummond knew the Cavaliers had to grind it out to get the victory.

“We just kept fighting,” Drummond said. “We knew this was going to be an ugly game. We knew it was going to be a real sloppy one due to some guys being in positions they haven’t been in before. We had fun, and we grinded the game out, and it was a great win for us.”

Late in the game, with the Cavaliers up 91-90, rookie Isaac Okoro made two of the game’s biggest plays. Okoro made a beautiful chase-down block on Tyus Jones, and then he made a beautiful backdoor cut for a dunk to put the Cavs up by three. Okoro finished with eight points and two blocks.

“If it wasn’t the middle of January, early January,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “We be talking about that block for a long, long time. It was phenomenal.”

Nance Jr. added about Okoro: “He’s a winner,” Nance Jr. said about Okoro. “The things he does on the court are things you can’t teach. I don’t know whoever taught him how to play basketball, where he learned how to play basketball, but he learned the right way.” 

The Cavaliers have had some nice wins this season, including victories over the Hawks and 76ers, but when you consider all the injuries and had depleted this team was on Thursday night, Cleveland’s win against Memphis was their best win of the season. Now, it’s off to Milwaukee to finish off their six-game road trip against the Bucks.

Cavs’ Sexton on injuries: ‘We just have to stay positive, next man up’

The Cavaliers(4-4) got the start they wanted against the Magic on Wednesday night. The undermanned Cavaliers led by eight after the first quarter, but they were outscored 68-41 in the second and third quarters, and they would fall to the Magic 105-94.

With the loss, the Magic(5-2) swept the two-game home series against the Cavaliers. Orlando defeated the Cavaliers 103-83 on Monday.

On Wednesday, Terrence Ross led the Magic with 20 points off the bench, Dwayne Bacon poured in 19 points for Orlando. Cleveland’s Collin Sexton had a game-high 21 points.

Coming into this game against the Magic, Cleveland was depleted. They were missing their second-leading scorer in Darius Garland(shoulder), Kevin Love(calf), Dante Exum(calf), Dylan Windler(wrist), and Matthew Dellavedova(concussion). The Cavaliers top three ball-handlers were not available on Wednesday, so while they got off to a good start, the Cavaliers did not have the personnel to keep the lead.

“We’re having a hard time on the offensive end of the floor right now,” Cavs head coach J.B Bickerstaff said after the game. “Shots aren’t falling, we’re missing bunnies at the rim, we’re missing open looks. That makes it difficult. 105 points you give up. It gives you an opportunity to be in the game. It gives you an opportunity to win the game, but right now, we’re having a hard time on the offensive end. It’s on me to find easier ways for us to score and take the pressure off our guys.”

Sexton added: “We know what we’re down; we know what we’re facing right now, and that’s injuries. We know injuries are going to happen, but we have to continue to stay positive at the end of the day. We just have to stay positive, next man up.”

Despite the injuries, Bickerstaff is going to make sure his players continue to compete.

“If the last nine months, ten months, today, don’t set your priorities right, we show up, and we’ll go to work every single day,” he said. ‘There’s a lot of other people dealing with a lot worse stuff, so we’ll keep our guys positive; we’ll keep our guys upbeat, and we’ll keep coming out, and we’ll keep competing.”

Cleveland has two more games left on their six-game road trip, including Thursday’s game against the Grizzlies. With a limited roster, guys are going to have to step up, and the Cavaliers are going to have to find ways to win games.

Notes:

Orlando’s Markelle Fultz left the game in the first quarter with a torn ACL in his left knee. The former number one overall pick in the 2017 draft recently signed a three-year, $50 million extension with the Magic. Fultz will miss the remainder of the season. 

Exum out 6-8 weeks with calf strain, Garland could miss one week with shoulder injury

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Danté Exum will be out 6-8 weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced on Wednesday. Exum left Monday night’s road game against the Orlando Magic in the first quarter with the injury and did not return. The 25-year Exum has struggled with injuries in his career, including tearing his ACL back in 2015.

In six games this season, the five-year veteran is averaging 3.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per contest.

Also, Cavaliers guard Darius Garland, who was held out of Monday night’s game against the Magic with a right shoulder sprain, could miss up to one week with that injury but will be re-evaluated daily through treatment and rehabilitation, the team said.  According to the Cavaliers, the 20-year-old Garland experienced discomfort in the shoulder following the Cavs’ win on Jan. 2 at Atlanta. 

The second-year guard was off to a good start this season. In six games, Garland is averaging 17.2 points, 6.3 assists, and 3.3 rebounds per contest.

The Cavaliers, who fell to the Magic 103-83 on Monday night, will finish their two-game series in Orlando against the Magic tonight.

Hardaway Jr. believes Dallas has the talent to compete with anybody

On Tuesday night, the Dallas Mavericks(3-4) went into Houston(2-3) and got a much-needed victory over the Rockets. Behind Luka Doncic’s triple-double, 33 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 assists, and Tim Hardaway Jr’s 30 points and seven rebounds off the bench, Dallas defeated Houston 113-100.

Doncic returned after missing Sunday’s loss against the Bulls with a left quadriceps contusion. Hardaway Jr, who started the first six games for Dallas, came off the bench last night for Dallas and was on fire. He shot 11/14 from the field, including 8/10 from three-point range and 13 points in the fourth quarter.

After the game, Hardaway Jr. reacted to coming off the bench. 

“It’s a coach decision,” he said. “You gotta be a pro. I said from day one, I’m ready to help this team out any way I can. Coach called someone else’s number, and I just had to make sure I was a pro, stay engaged in the game, and make sure when I got in the game, make an impact.

“All my teammates did a great job of just letting me know to stay aggressive and keep that aggressive mindset going into the game. I just wanted to contribute any way I can.”

Dallas is off to a slow start, but even at 3-4, Hardaway Jr. believes that Dallas has the talent to compete with anybody in the NBA. 

“There’s no hiding at this point,” he said. “Today(Rockets), against the Clippers, against the Miami Heat. Three playoff-caliber teams. It showed that we can hang with them, hang with those guys. If we’re all on the same rope, all on the same string, we could compete with anybody. 

“We all gotta stay even-keeled. We can’t get too high, get too low at this point, still early in the season, still a lot to improve on. Moving forward, I know we have the group of guys to get that done.”

Dallas has the talent to compete with anybody in the NBA, but can they do it consistently? At this point, they are not doing it consistently, and maybe once they get Kristaps Porzingis back, they can become the team that many thought they could be when the season began.

Spurs’ White suffers foot injury

The San Antonio Spurs were dealt a significant blow on Tuesday. Derrick White, who made his season debut on New Year’s Day against the Lakers, suffered a non-displaced fracture of the proximal phalanx of his left second toe. No word on how long White will be out. 

According to the team, the injury occurred after White fell in the second quarter against the Lakers.

Before his debut, the fourth-year guard was recovering from toe surgery on his left foot in the offseason. White also signed a reported four-year, $ 73 million extension with the Spurs in December. 

The 26-year-old White posted averages of 11.3 points, 3.5 assists, and 3.3 rebounds in 24.7 minutes last season while ranking second among all NBA guards in total blocks (59) and second in the league in charges drawn (30). White has appeared in 152 NBA games for his NBA career, averaging 9.8 points, 3.4 assists, and 3.3 rebounds in 23.3 minutes while shooting 46.9 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from long range.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on injuries: ‘It is what it is, and we just gotta figure it out’

Throughout the 2020 NBA season, the Cleveland Cavaliers(4-3) have dealt with their share of adversity. Injuries have hit this team hard in this young season, including Kevin Love and Isaac Okoro, who have missed five games with injuries and are still out.

The injuries hit the team on Monday night in Orlando against the Magic(5-2). Darius Garland missed his first game of the season with a shoulder injury, and in the first quarter, Dante Exum went down with an apparent lower leg injury. Cleveland was depleted in this game, and it showed. The Cavaliers were routed by the Magic 103-83. 

The Magic’s Aaron Gordon scored 24 points and 11 rebounds, and Nikola Vucevic chipped in with 23 points. Collin Sexton led the Cavaliers with 24 points.

“It’s tough,” Bickerstaff said. “I think our guys played hard. They tried to do what we asked them to do, but with so many guys out of position tonight. It’s hard to organize guys, especially when you’re losing primary ball-handlers. 

Cleveland does not have the bodies right now, but according to Bickerstaff, they have to find a way to figure it out.

“It is what it is, and we just gotta figure it out; we are down bodies,” he said. “We talked about adversity a few games back. I think this is the epitome of it, so we just gotta figure it out, and we gotta get the most out of these opportunities that we have.”

Cleveland is off to a surprising start, but as the injuries continue to mount, Bickerstaff is right; they have to figure it out, which won’t be easy. The figuring out starts on Wednesday against the Magic.

Notes:

-Collin Sexton has tied the Cavaliers record for consecutive 20-point games to start the season with 7 (LeBron James, 2004-05). Sexton, who has also put up 20+ points in 12 straight contests going back to 2019-20, is the only player in the NBA this season with at least 25.0 PPG, .500 FG%, and .500 3FG%.

-After Wednesday’s game against the Magic, they travel to Memphis on Thursday and finish up their six-game road trip against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.