Southwest Notes: Mavs, Doncic, Jackson, Brooks, Rockets

Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd isn’t pleased with the team’s effort on defense, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, who notes that Dallas’ defensive rating, seventh in the NBA last season, has plummeted to 25th in 2022/23.

Two solid defenders, Dorian Finney-Smith and Josh Green, returned to action on Wednesday following injury absences, but it was still the third consecutive game in which the Mavericks gave up at least 130 points.

“It’s attention to detail and focus,” Finney-Smith said. “It’s everything. I tried to come out here with some energy, but we still end up doing the same thing. It’s everybody. It ain’t just one person. We all gotta take the challenge and start guarding. Gotta be about the care factor. We’ve got to care about stopping somebody. You should get mad if they keep scoring.”

The Mavericks’ offense, which ranked 14th last season, is up to fifth so far in ’22/23, but Kidd told reporters on Wednesday that he doesn’t want his club to get in the habit of trying to outscore its opponents in shootouts.

“Tonight, we gave up 130 points and a team shot 57 percent,” Kidd said after the loss to Atlanta. “It’s a shootaround. In this league, if you do that, no matter if you have Luka or Kareem or LeBron, you’re going to lose. It doesn’t matter how many points you score, you’re always going to be short.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Echoing Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Luka Doncic denied a report that suggested he has “strongly indicated” he wants the team to make roster upgrades by the February 9 trade deadline, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. “Obviously, I know, the people who are next to me, who I talk to, they know that’s not true,” Doncic said. “I didn’t say nothing about that. I talk to (president of basketball operations) Nico (Harrison). I talk to Fin (assistant GM Michael Finley) more than I used to. But that’s just not the way I talk to them. We have great communication and that just stays between us.”
  • Grizzlies guard Ja Morant isn’t just advocating for one of his teammates to win Defensive Player of the Year — he thinks two of them should share the award. As Evan Barnes of The Commercial Appeal writes, Morant believes Jaren Jackson Jr. and Dillon Brooks both deserve DPOY honors, jokingly suggesting that voters (who can pick just one winner) write in “Jaren Brooks.”
  • Responding to John Wall‘s criticism of the Rockets and their culture, head coach Stephen Silas said he understood the veteran’s frustration about how his time in Houston played out, but pushed back against the notion that the team let its young prospects get away with too much, per Danielle Lerner of The Houston Chronicle. “As far as holding them accountable, some of it is learning from mistakes, learning through adversity, and learning from film sessions,” Silas said. “It’s important for me to lay out what the expectations are. But to expect young kids not to make mistakes is unrealistic.”
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