Southwest Notes: Jones, Doncic, Green, Giddey, VanVleet

Herbert Jones made an immediate impact after returning from a three-game absence due to a right fibula contusion. Jones sparked the Pelicans on a defensive end as they avenged a loss to the Mavericks two days earlier. Two days after Luka Doncic dropped 30 points on New Orleans, Jones held the Mavs star to 16 points in the Pelicans’ 131-110 win.

Doncic gave high praise to the Pelicans swingman after the game, Rod Walker of the New Orleans Times-Picayune notes. “He’s just a great defender,” Doncic said. “You could see his impact today when he wasn’t there for the first game (Sunday). I really admire that guy.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Speaking of Doncic, he wasn’t exactly thrilled with the in-season tournament court at New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center, he told Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News. “I mean, outside all of the colors the court today was really bad,” the Mavericks star said. “It was really slippery. And then some places the ball didn’t really bounce. So you know, if we’re going to have these courts we’ve got to make sure that it’s a stable court, so you can play on it. Like in Dallas, you know? It wasn’t stable, so we had to change it.”
  • Veteran forward Jeff Green‘s minutes have fluctuated in his first nine games with the Rockets, but he has been more than just a veteran voice in the locker room, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required). Head coach Ime Udoka lauded Green for his versatility, noting that he has been a good fit as a small-ball five in certain lineups.
  • The Spurs’ No. 1 goal this offseason should be to bring in a lead ball-hander, Kelly Iko of The Athletic opines. A scout that Iko interviewed indicated that the Thunder’s Josh Giddey could be a future target, though there’s no indication Giddey will be available in the short term. Within the same mailbag, Iko gives the Rockets high praise for their Fred VanVleet addition in free agency. VanVleet has improved the club at both ends of the floor, empowered their young players and displayed his leadership skills, Iko notes.
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