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Quote board: Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr., Dante Exum, and Jason Kidd speak after thrilling Mavericks win over the Lakers

The Mavericks reflect on a challenging and exciting win against the LeBron and the Lakers

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks were shorthanded and pushing through the second night of a back-to-back, but they found their way to a thrilling victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. The team returned to the American Airlines Center Tuesday night after their road win against the Memphis Grizzlies the night prior, to face a rested LeBron James and Co. fresh off their In-Season Tournament victory in Las Vegas over the weekend. Earlier in the day Tuesday it was unclear how many players the Mavericks would actually have to trot out. Luka Doncic logged a team-high 44 minutes against the Grizzlies and the team is currently battling a roster’s worth of injuries.

But Luka played, and welcomed the return of both Tim Hardaway Jr. and Grant Williams, back from injury. Those two, and the surging play of Dante Exum, were the story of the night. Exum in his fourth straight start (the team is 4-0 in that time) posted 26 points (7-of-9 from three), four rebounds, three assists, plus a steal and a block in dramatic fashion. He was most powerful in the moments the Mavericks needed him most, posting 17 fourth quarter points. The supporting trio were a lethal 17-of-26 from three.

Here is what the team had to say after their 127-125 win:

Jason Kidd

(On Danté Exum being left open...)

“You play the percentages. [Danté] Exum – he’s playing at a high level right now on both ends. With the injuries, it’s given him confidence and you can see that, not just shooting the 3s but attacking the basket there in the first quarter getting that layup, not just settling. We’ve talked about how his IQ is extremely high. He knows how to play the right way. Luka [Dončić] or Kai (Kyrie Irving) or whomever he’s out there with, those guys trust him and you saw that with Luka. Luka probably has to lead the league in double teams. He’s been double-teamed for a majority of the game. His trust with his teammates, if it’s not Timmy [Hardaway Jr.], it’s [Danté] Exum. And if it’s not that, it’s the next guy up. You trust that the guys are going to make the right play or take the shot. Tonight, Exum was the one he was looking for.”

(On Luka Dončić’s ability to handle the load with all the team’s injuries...)

“He wanted to stay in the game with 3 minutes left (in the third quarter) but we’ve got to figure out how to get him out of the game with the lead. If the game was tied or we’re down two, he’s fresh and ready to go for the fourth. The easy part would have just been to bring him back as the lead started to go away but I thought about leaving him there, giving him those 3 minutes – he hasn’t had a break in the second half here of late. Also, we trust the group that’s out there playing is going to do their part. The other thing is for him to learn how to rest on offense when he gets double teamed – and that’s what he’s doing. He’s getting double teamed at the top of the floor and he’s trusting once he does that, it’s advantage basketball. We do want to get healthy. We don’t want to play him 44 minutes right now.”

(On whether or not Luka Dončić gets frustrated by being double teamed...)

“I think it’s a compliment. He’s one of the best in the world. I think he’s got to absorb that – I think he has absorbed that of being double teamed. He’s a competitor, he wants to win. Sometimes he gets frustrated because someone might miss a shot or turn the ball over. But I think you can see his maturity has gotten better because he knows that his teammates are trying to do the right thing. There’s a lot of beautiful things happening right now.”

(On trusting 19-year-old Dereck Lively II to close out games...)

“Take the age out – he’s a basketball player. He understands how to play the game. He’s very coachable. This was a great test for him on a back-to-back after last night’s game and the minutes and the physicality. Then to turn around going from Jaren Jackson to A.D. (Anthony Davis) and understanding he’s playing against two All-Stars – he’s going through it. But again, I think the trust – not just of the coaches but his teammates – if Luka [Dončić] is being double-teamed, he’s also looking for Lively to score or play make. It just shows how important he is to this team but how good he really is.”

Luka Doncic

(On Mavericks guard Dante Exum’s 26-point performance tonight...)

“[He was] amazing. Obviously not just tonight, but I think tonight was his best game. His plays, his defense, and obviously his shooting today. He has been amazing for us.”

(On how he is feeling physically so far in the season and after the win tonight...)

“I don’t know how I played. I slept very little today, and everything hurts. I am getting older. But we got two back-to-back wins, which is amazing especially against a team like the Lakers. So, I am really proud of these guys.”

(On the technical foul called on him at the end of the game...)

“I just said [to the referees] it was not intentional. We have to be better than that. There are forty seconds left and you can’t call a technical, man. I just said it’s not intentional. I yelled it, but we can’t do that.”

Tim Hardaway Jr.

(On how much pressure he feels to score with Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving out...)

“A lot. [It’s] a little bit of picking and choosing your spots. I knew I was going to come out aggressive with how they were going to defend Luka [Dončić]. I just had to try my best to put a stamp on the game. When any shooter has any daylight and the first shot goes up and in, the basket feels like an ocean.”

(On if he has a different mindset when he is out there with no Irving and no Dončić?)

“No, you have the same mindset for the most part. [You have to] be aggressive coming off the bench. I know what I have to do offensively and defensively. Today was a great day.”

(On his back issues and how the charges he took in the game affected it...)

“It didn’t help at all, but I have to lay my body on the line for my team. Those three charges definitely gave us extra possessions. It doesn’t show up on a stat sheet, but it does show up on the hustle plays when we watch film. That’s all that matters.”

(On Mavericks guard Dante Exum’s performance...)

“We saw their [the Lakers] game plan going into the fourth quarter where for basically the whole game they were trying to make him [Dante Exum] a shooter. The guy goes into the gym two hours before practice with our shooting coaches getting extra reps up every single day. That is just credit to his work. He has calmed down; he is knocking down his shot and shooting with confidence. That is what we need.”

Dante Exum

(On his performance tonight…)

“Obviously, I’m feeling great. Most importantly we got the win. We got up early and they fought back. We knew it was a back-to-back, it was a game we had to fight. They were coming off their tournament win. I think it was a good fighting game, back and forth.”

(On the Lakers leaving him open…)

“I think it started in L.A. And then a lot of teams started to put their 5 on me. So, ever since then I have been in the gym working. Credit to the staff and even our players. Constantly trusting me to shoot the ball and to pass it to me. It was trust in myself and confidence to keep shooting it. I think how Luka [Dončić] plays and he can find anyone at any point. Knowing guys are going to help off to double him, and I have to be ready. I try to put myself in the situation where I can be on the floor. I don’t want to be the guy that is taken out because I can’t hit that shot.”

(On his shooting tonight…)

“Even in Portland there was a couple of shots I could have shot, but tonight they left me wide open. I had no choice, I was forced to shoot and I showed the confidence that I was going to sit there and shoot. I am thankful for the result. But the mindset going forward is those are the shots I have to keep shooting if they are going to play me like that. I’ve had a solid shot, I want to speed it up a bit. It is just stuff I am going to keep working on, but I want to speed it up if they close out strong.”

(On his shooting improvement since his began his career…)

“I think it is not a lot. It is just the consistency of the reps and being confident. That is just something I’ve had to figure out. It’s maturity, growing up and playing. I say this to the coaches a lot. I used to miss my first shot and I started thinking. Now, I am confident and I have this saying if I miss my first one I am going to make the next one. That is what I try to fall back on and just keep shooting.”