What made you put Maxi Kleber in the starting lineup?
“Well the matchup with (Julius) Randle has been a big problem so we wanted to go bigger. I should say rebounding has been a problem and the matchup with Randle has been a problem. So we wanted to go bigger tonight and try to attack those two challenges.
“We did out-rebound them which was a big part of the game and we kept turnovers under control. I thought everybody played their butts off and stuck together because it’s a difficult game. They’ve got two all-star players and Randle is on the come up.
“He’s getting better all the time. He bangs in outside shots and threes against us. It’s a tough match up”
How were y’all able to get so many blocked shots tonight?
“Well I know Kleber had six. DJ had one, DIrk had two (pauses for laughter). Listen he was active and he did a good job out there.
“Dirk is fighting through a lot to be on the court and to compete and I gain more respect for him every day. He helped us out there tonight a lot. The crowd got more into it and he hit a couple of big shots. It was good stuff.”
Was there any doubt you’d put the ball in Luka Doncic’s hands to seal the game?
“Listen it’s not a Luka thing it was an action that we liked that had been successful earlier in the game. Look we have great confidence in him too. He did a great job getting fouled. That was a huge play, and then he got a couple of big rebounds in the end.
“Every little thing everybody did was needed and he was very good. He had a terrific game and I guess almost a triple-double. The most important thing is to get off a losing streak. Going into New Orleans is never easy. We’ve got a day to circle to wagons again and get a plan together to go over there and compete.”
When your outside shot isn’t falling is it more important to get to the free throw line?
“Of course. Free throw shots are easy points. I work on it, get fouled, got to watch a lot of video so it’s super important to get to the free throw line.”
You almost got a triple double, are you aware of things like that as you’re playing?
“Yeah I see statistics on the screen.”
What did you think of the MVP chants?
(Laughs) “I love the fans. The fans here are amazing. They really support us so much and I really appreciate them.”
How do you feel like you fit with the starting lineup tonight?
“We changed it up because we wanted to have some size against their two big guys. I’m always ready when coach subs me in so my mindset was the same thing to go out there and play defense.”
Do you feel like you’re shooting better as of late?
“I’ve been struggling a lot with my shot. I changed it this summer and obviously I still have to get as many reps as I can because it’s really going up and down. Especially when you’re playing the game you sit out longer and come in cold your legs are not that ready.
“I have to do a better job on that. Today it went well. I was running up and down a little bit so I got my legs in and my shot looked better again but I’ve got to keep working on that for sure.”
How do you think you did on the defensive end tonight?
“I knew my job today was to bring another big body in there because they’ve got two centers out there playing really well. We had to to a better job on the rebounding end and of course challenging shots. So that was my part for the game today.
“So my mindset was to go out there and play defense.”
You had a couple of blocks tonight, how do you feel you did defensively?
“Well they were strips more than blocks let’s be honest (pauses for laughter). I’ll take it. You know I have to help out on the defensive end wherever I can. I won’t be like Max jumping up there and getting those blocks but that was always one of my strengths was quick hands and trying to strip balls and gets teals however I can.
How did you think Luka Doncic played tonight?
“His play making has been fantastic for us obviously. Dennis has been out and even with Jalen (Brunson) in there he’s really the one. Jalen plays more of the two. Today we went for the bigger lineup because of the matchup problems they present. We started big so Luka is basically running the point in that lineup.
“He’s great in screen and rolls he found the rollers a bunch of times. DeAndre had a bunch of easy baskets. If they took that away we had some good looks on the weak side so he’s just a big-bodied guard that can score but he can also see over some of those traps and make great passes and great reads out of there. I’ve said all the time that he’s playing like a multi-year veteran and not a 19-year-old rookie.”
What do you think about how the fans have embraced Luka so early in his career?
“Anywhere we go on the road there’s fans already and people waiting in the hotel screaming his name. He’s made a name for himself and anytime you’re known by your first name after just a few months in the league that’s a great sign.
“Everybody is just saying Luka, Luka here, Luka there but he deserves it. He’s been great for us and he’s been fun to play with. He’s a fun kid off the floor as well. He’s up for jokes. He fits in great both on and off the floor.