Mavericks Notes: Doncic, Irving, Lively, Hardy

After shooting a combined 13-of-39 (33.3%) from the floor on Tuesday, Mavericks stars Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving both accepted the blame for the Game 4 loss, as Tim MacMahon of ESPN writes. While Doncic cited his lack of energy and Irving mentioned his early-game sloppiness, their teammates weren’t willing to let the backcourt duo shoulder the full responsibility for the defeat.

“It’s not on them, it’s on us as a team,” Derrick Jones Jr. said. “We are a unit. We go out there, and we play together, we win together, we lose together. It’s not on one person. I know that they’re the leaders of the team, that head of the snake, but we got their back through thick and through thin.”

The Timberwolves adjusted their defensive assignments on Tuesday, with Anthony Edwards serving as the primary defender on Doncic. Jaden McDaniels guarded Irving, who admitted after the game that the All-Defensive wing represented a new challenge.

“He has a huge impact,” Irving said of McDaniels. “I mean, he is a 6-9 wing defender that I’m seeing now for the first time from the start of the game. So it’s going to be an adjustment, but I love it. I relish in these type opportunities.”

Here’s more out of Dallas:

  • Referring to Dereck Lively as the Mavericks’ third-most important player, Tim Cato of The Athletic says the rookie center’s absence was noticeable in the Game 4 loss. Lively told Marc J. Spears of Andscape (Twitter link) that his neck sprain is a “day to day thing” and that he’s trying not to rush his recovery and return. On FanDuel’s Run it Back show (Twitter video link), Shams Charania of The Athletic said it’s promising that Lively didn’t have to enter the concussion protocol, adding that there’s a chance the big man could be back for Game 5, though that’s far from a certainty.
  • Lively isn’t the only Mavericks youngster giving the team important playoff minutes. Second-year guard Jaden Hardy scored 13 points in just 12 minutes of action in Game 4, making 3-of-4 three-pointers and throwing down a highlight-reel dunk. “It felt great to see some shots go in while I was out there,” Hardy said, per Eddie Sefko of “I’m just trying to bring energy and bring another element to the team that makes us different and trying to make this championship run.” Hardy is under contract for one more season before becoming eligible for restricted free agency in 2025.
  • The Mavericks still hold a commanding 3-1 lead over Minnesota in the series, so there’s no need to panic yet, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (subscription required). Still, it will be crucial not to let the Timberwolves continue to gain confidence by winning additional games. “This is a great opportunity for us as a young team to go through this,” head coach Jason Kidd said.
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