The Dallas Mavericks fell to the Memphis Grizzlies at home on Monday night, 104-88. Dallas played without Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and Christian Wood, their top three scorers. That left Jaden Hardy and Josh Green to pick up the slack, and while they each gave a valiant effort, it wasn’t enough. After the game, head coach Jason Kidd gave another round of answers that rank up there with the weirdest things said by a coach all season. Here’s what he, Josh Green, and Jaden Hardy had to say.
(On staying optimistic in a stretch like this...)
“I think when you look at the shots that we got – took a lot of 3s, only got eight free throws against one of the best defenses in the league – just [need to] understand the ball has to touch the paint. We just weren’t consistent with that. When it did, we got wide-open looks. That’s what we’ve talked about, make or miss, making the right play. We just weren’t consistent with that tonight. Give Memphis credit: they took us out of that.”
(On the play of Jaden Hardy and looking ahead to his playoff minutes...)
“I think he’s grown here. He’s had an incredible run in the sense of work and being able to play. Tonight, being able to get to the paint, to score, to shoot and then also to play-make to find open teammates when he was driving – and the ball touched the paint. A lot of good things. Let’s not talk playoff minutes yet. We’ve got 13 more games, so let’s get the 13 games in and minutes there as we get healthy and go forward. Let’s just finish the season off before we start talking playoff minutes.”
(On the timing of turnovers...)
“We get a turnover, Josh [Green] takes it down and he turns it over on a 3-on-1 break. Turnovers happened at the wrong time. But I truly believe in that first half, we were sitting in a good seat, just like we were in Memphis. We hadn’t scored for a while. It was almost four or five minutes before we could get the ball in the basket. Just understanding what we have to do to stop that run. But [when we are] not scoring, the ball has to touch the paint. When you look at the 3s that we took – 46 of them – the ball wasn’t touching the paint. You’ve got to give Memphis credit. Also, just having that veteran on the floor to slow things down and get us organized is something that we missed tonight.”
(On when concern for the season gets serious...)
“Once the season is over. It’s just the regular season. Well, that (the regular season could end and the year is over)’s true, too. Then there has to be concern. Just understand, our health – this is what we have, these are the cards we’re dealt. Just like anybody in this league, we’ve got to play with the cards that we had tonight. We played a good half of basketball with a young backcourt that’s learning how to play the NBA game. Put that in perspective against a very good defensive team. Understand, we’re getting better – it’s just a matter of ‘can we be healthy in time to make a stretch run?’ If not, that’s just the season. No one is dying.”
Then there’s this, which the Mavericks public relations people left out of the notes for obvious reasons. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions:
(On what happened defensively in the second half and especially in the third quarter…)
“Yeah, first off, we came out with a lot of energy and ready to play. [We were] making very unselfish plays. In the second half, we came out slow and a big part of that was me. I came out slow and I should have come with more energy. At the end of the day, it’s an energy thing. I think we came out in the second half very slow and we need to work on that going forward. But, it’s one of those things: energy. Energy wins games.”
(On what the mood is like in the locker room as the team falls below .500 for the first time since December…)
“We’ve got to win. It’s no other option now. We all need to have the mindset that we’re trying to win every single game from here on out. We’re playing against teams like the Lakers coming up and even the Spurs, where the young guys are trying to beat us. So, at the end of the day, whatever’s on all of our minds, it’s no more than that we need to win for the rest of the season and continue to win. Right now, the Western Conference is completely wide open and we need to make sure that we’re winning games.”
(On how different it is when Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving are not playing…)
“It’s a lot different. When two of the best players are not on the court, you definitely feel that. But, it’s up to us and we shouldn’t have to rely on them. We should be coming out there and giving them the energy to show that we have their back. When they’re back out there, they can trust us and that we can do stuff. For us, it’s not about whether they play or whether they don’t play. At the end of the day, we have one thing in mind and that’s to win the game. Obviously, the game plan changes without having them. But, whether they’re in there or whether they’re out, from a player standpoint, we’re looking at just winning. So obviously stuff changes, but we still have one outcome.”
(On being the primary playmaker the last few games and how he has adjusted to that role…)
“I feel like, just coming out, trying to be there for my teammates when they need me and just staying ready whenever my name is called. Being in this position, [I’m] just trying to take advantage of it.”
(On what happened in the second half when the team lost its halftime lead…)
“I feel like we got good looks and we didn’t knock them down in the second half. But, we’ve got to move on and just play together on defense. We’ve got to lock in on the defensive side of the ball. On offense, just continue to play together and move the ball. We’ve got to get healthy on to the next road trip and try to take advantage of the road trip and get wins.”
(On how he would describe the mood in the locker room right now as the team falls under .500 for the first time since December…)
“Nobody likes to lose. We all want to win. So, it’s tough after the games when we lose. But, we just got to move on and move on to the next one.”
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