Southwest Notes: Irving, Lofton Jr., Murphy, Eason

Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving suffered a right foot injury on Friday when teammate Dwight Powell landed on him. Coach Jason Kidd said he’ll know more on Saturday about the extent of the injury, according to ESPN.

Dante Exum picked up the slack with 23 points, seven assists and six rebounds in a victory over Portland.

“One of the biggest things with our team is our next man up mentality,” Exum told Eddie Sefko of “You see that right now with me as an example. We have (a lot of players) down. And the guys have been able to step up. Hopefully, he (Irving) is not out for too long, but we have a deep roster that’s willing and ready to step up.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Kenneth Lofton Jr. has shed 20 pounds in the past three weeks, he told Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Lofton has played sparingly for the Grizzlies this season despite frontcourt injuries. He’s hoping his improved conditioning will lead to a bigger role. “My mental has been good,” he said. “I’m just pretty much waiting on my time, working off the court and getting better at my strengths. Really just focusing on myself.” He needs to show more, as his $2.02MM salary for next season is not guaranteed.
  • When the Pelicans executed a trade three days before the 2021 draft, Trey Murphy knew the organization was interested in selecting him. In a multi-player trade, New Orleans gave up the 10th pick and received the 17th pick. However, Murphy wasn’t sure if he’d go a little higher. “I knew for sure once they moved back from 10 to 17, they are making a move with the intent of drafting me at 17,” Murphy told Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “I knew my draft range was around 14 to 17. That was my range. I was either going to go 14 to the Warriors or go 16 to Oklahoma City at the time. It ended up changing to Houston (in a draft-night trade). One of those three teams.”
  • Second-year forward Tari Eason has endeared himself to Rockets coach Ime Udoka due to his versatility, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic. “Metric-wise or analytic-wise, he’s off the charts for all of those reasons. He defends, can shoot the ball and do some different things with his offensive rebounding, loose balls. Where other guys might touch their hands and lose it, he gets every one of those,” Udoka said. “Just makes the right plays over and over. We’re happy that his minutes are starting to go up. We can play him a little bit more here and there and we understand how impactful he is for us.”
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