The Dallas Mavericks (22-15) beat the Minnesota Timberwolves (25-10) in what is now their best win of the regular season, 115-108. It was an impressive win for the Mavericks, down two key players, and coming out ahead after giving up a fourth-quarter lead. The full game recap is here along with some of the key numbers to know.
Past that, let’s hear from the key Dallas Mavericks members who helped spark the win:
(On the team’s defensive play over the past month...)
“Deflections, steals, ending a possession with a rebound even though in that first half we gave up 11 of them and for the game, 18. But I think just the guys feeling comfortable with what we’re asking them to do. Sometimes, when there are injuries, you’re going to try to plug holes and guys are playing hard, showing that they can play both sides. You look at — Luka [Dončić] is going to take the challenge doing that on both ends. Kai (Kyrie Irving) is competing. We’re small and so it looks like we’re getting a couple of steals more than we were earlier in the year. Also, I think we talked about around Christmas, we were starting to get a little better in that area and right now we are.”
(On the play of Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving and Mavericks guard Luka Dončić...)
“Just like the last time he (Kyrie Irving) played Minnesota here, he went off in the fourth quarter. I think, again, Kai (Kyrie Irving) was great. Luka [Dončić] was great. Those guys set the tone — not just on the offensive end but on the defensive end. And then I thought the trust for one another to not just take turns down the stretch but to make plays for their teammates. Kai makes two big 3s, one off of DP (Dwight Powell)’s assist; he’s in the corner — heck of a catch, heck of a pass, big-time shot. I thought the group being down six was a great test of character and trust. Those guys did a great job of hanging together and finding a way to win.”
(On switching to a more aggressive style of defense...)
“One, when you’re small, you’ve got to figure out — if you can’t protect the rim, you’ve got to do something. The deflections, being aggressive, trying to not let stars play sometimes, trying to have the ball find other guys and being able to rebound. The guys really have taken to that and understanding they’re following the gameplan and the trust is there between the coaches and players. When you look at D. Jones (Derrick Jones Jr.), he hasn’t really had anything written or talked about but his play defensively every night — he has no choice but to guard the best offensive player and he never complains. The beauty of this team — a small thing tonight — he had a great look at the 3 to close the game. When we came into the huddle, maybe to run a different play, and Luka [Dončić] said, ‘Let’s run the same things. Let’s give it to D. Jones, he’s going to knock this one down.’ That’s what this team is built on. Not just Luka and Kai (Kyrie Irving) but our role players are playing at a high level right now and D. Jones is one of those guys defensively and offensively that we count on.”
(On how Mavericks guard Luka Dončić responds to playing more aggressive defense...)
“Defensive? Yes (I think he enjoys the challenge). Are we going to ask him to do that for all 82 [games]? No. But I think he is up for the challenge. He doesn’t want to just be known that he can play on one end at a high level. He wants to be a complete player — and he’s done that by guarding KAT (Karl-Anthony Towns). We asked him to do that tonight. We’ve asked him to guard Ant (Anthony Edwards) and everyone else. It’s not that he’s going to shut down everyone but he’s going to compete. He has pride and he knows that he can move his feet. Sometimes he gets in the way and sometimes he doesn’t.”
(On being down by six points and scoring 11 in a row to close the game…)
“Stay the course. We had good shots. We were just moving the ball really well today. That’s what we need to keep doing and trusting it.”
(On defending Timberwolves forward Karl-Anthony Towns and playing defense in the post…)
“I’m strong. People don’t think that, but I think I have some of the most powerful legs in the NBA. I love it. We said we were going to double, but I said, ‘don’t double’. Let’s see if I can get a couple stops. I like playing post.”
(On Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving’s performance tonight…)
“He was great. He’s an amazing player. We need him to be this aggressive every time.”
(On trusting his teammates to score…)
“It’s easy to trust him (Kyrie Irving) with the ball to get a bucket. At the end, after he made two 3’s, he told me he was tired so I had to get the ball.”
(On the Mavericks defense coming together…)
“First, staying healthy. We’ve had a big problem with that this season. But we still hang in there. The last 10-15 games, we’ve been more active on defense. We’ve been playing better on defense.”
(On playing aggressive defense…)
“Everyone says, ‘your best offense is your defense’. We play good defense, we get rebounds, we can run the floor and I think we’re one of the best teams in the NBA to do that. You have to score more points than the other team.”
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(On the meaning of tonight’s win moving forward…)
“It was a good test for us to play against one of the hottest teams in the league. Their record speaks for itself. I think our focus level was at a great point tonight. We had some points of emphasis in the game plan that we really stuck to and the ball found who we wanted it to. We were dialed in from the beginning of the game. It feels good when you can go blow-for-blow with one of the best teams in the league. I think, offensively and defensively, you’re challenging yourself. These are the type of games you want to be a part of. In the regular season, it’s not too often you get to go against some of the best of the best in the league and tonight was a great test for us. We showed where we can still improve, but also it took an effort for us tonight to get this win.”
(On averaging 9.0 rebounds per game as of late…)
“It’s just doing whatever it takes to win. That paint is not as clogged when we don’t have the bigs down there. We’ve been a few men short over these last few games so I’ve just been doing everything possible to put myself in a better position to rebound and help our big guys out. They do a great job of boxing out.”
(On giving a lot of effort…)
“It sets the standard. If you see me driving after a loose ball, going into the crowd, that should encourage everyone else to do the same if the opportunity arises. This is why I get up every day and play this game at a high level and continue to bring some guys along with me. To be successful in this league takes team wins. A lot of team comradery, a lot of gelling, a lot of harmony on the offensive and defensive end and just being on the same court. That’s what it’s about at this point is we have tests in front of us, some good teams that are on our schedule. We’re home so it’s time to really develop our identity even more so.”
Derrick Jones Jr.
(On his dunk with 25 seconds left in the game that gave Dallas a 111-106 lead…)
“[Out of the timeout], they told me to shoot the ball again. When I caught the ball, I saw Rudy [Gobert] was caught up with Dwight [Powell] so I saw a free lane.”
(On his defense against the Timberwolves bigs…)
“I take the challenge on whoever I guard, regardless if it’s a big, small, small forward. I take the challenge every day, and I go out there and I do what I got to do. I try to make it a difficult night as much as I can whenever I can.”
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