Dallas Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd hailed Luka Doncic after his starring role in their Game 4 win over the Golden State Warriors having been named in the All-NBA first team earlier on Tuesday.

Doncic had a near triple-double with 30 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists as the Mavericks won 119-109 over the Warriors to avoid a clean sweep.

Earlier in the day, Doncic had been named alongside Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and Devin Booker in the All-NBA first team for the third time in his career.

"I don’t think anybody is surprised that he's first team but it's really cool," Kidd told reporters.

"It shows the talent level. The other four are pretty talented too. It shows where he's going, his growth."

Kidd was full of praise for Doncic, who also had two steals and two blocks in Game 4, playing a key role in the fourth quarter to ward off the Warriors' late charge.

"What he does for this team is incredible, not just points and assists, but being able to rebound the ball," Kidd said.

"At the end, he came up with a nice little blocked shot to pad his defensive stats. He's our leader. When he goes, we go. He loves that stage.

"Being first team with the other four, it's a great honour for him."

Doncic, 23, was delighted with the accolade, which comes for the third straight season, having joined the Mavs in 2018.

"It's a blessing," Doncic told reporters. "As a kid I only dreamed of being in the NBA, and now it's my third All-NBA team.

"It's a blessing. I'm really happy and thankful to everybody that made it happen."

Doncic was also hopeful about the Mavericks in the Conference Finals despite history being against his side, who trail the Warriors 3-1.

Tuesday's win was the Mavs' fourth in franchise history in a Game 4 when facing a 3-0 deficit in a playoff series, losing Game 5 on the previous three occasions. Golden State has led 10 playoff series 3-0 in the past, sweeping six and winning in five on four occasions.

"I still believe we can win," Doncic said when asked if he was relieved to avoid a sweep.

"Swept or not swept, in the end, if you lose, you lose. It doesn’t matter how many you win, but we have to go game by game. We're going to believe until the end."

Dallas Mavericks coach Jason Kidd was left frustrated by his side's shot selection as they went 2-0 down to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.

Despite a strong lead after the second quarter thanks to a best-in-show Luka Doncic, who posted 42, the visitors were pegged back for a second consecutive loss at Chase Center.

The Mavs blew several chances to keep daylight between themselves and their hosts in the third quarter, but an over-reliance on attempts to bags 3s left them to suffer.

"When you go 2-for-13 and you rely on the 3, you can die by the 3," Kidd said. "And we died in the third quarter by shooting that many 3s and coming up with only two.

"If you make [3s], that's great, but you just have to understand, if you miss four in a row, you can't take the fifth.

"You've got to make it. That just puts too much stress on yourself and on your team because, if you're not getting stops on the other end, it turns into a blowout."

The Mavs face a tough road back into contention, but will take consolation from the fact a 2-0 deficit is far from insurmountable, having been knocked out by the Clippers last season with a similar advantage after two games.

They also boast Doncic, one of the best form players in the NBA right now, and the Slovenian admitted his side could have put more in.

"We weren't attacking the paint that much," he added. "But we got to attack the paint more, like they did. They attacked the paint a lot.

"They have two of the best shooters in the world, and they still attack the paint. So I think we've got to rely less on the 3."

The Dallas Mavericks have faith in Luka Doncic to put a disappointing Game 1 behind him when they meet the Golden State Warriors again on Friday.

Mavs superstar Doncic was tightly marshalled by the Warriors on Wednesday, with the Slovenian only managing 20 points on six-of-18 shooting.

Andrew Wiggins was the primary defender on Doncic, who had seven turnovers and was also limited to seven rebounds and four assists in a 112-87 defeat.

However, team-mate Spencer Dinwiddie has full confidence that one of the best players in the NBA has the ability to be back at his best in Game 2.

"He's just brilliant. I think he's seen every defense from probably playing professionally overseas when he was younger," Dinwiddie told reporters.

"If you've seen it before, you've probably developed counters for it.

"So, now, it's just about continuing to improve game by game, and he's one of the best in the business at doing that."

The sentiment was echoed by Mavs coach Jason Kidd, who said: "[Doncic] understands what [the Warriors] are trying to do, and he'll be better, we believe that in that locker room."

Doncic was still the second-highest scorer in Game 1, behind only Warriors talisman Stephen Curry, who had 21 points, 12 rebounds and four assists.

Luka Doncic felt it was all about "energy, man" as the Dallas Mavericks put in a much-improved defensive showing to claw their way back into their Western Conference semi-finals series against the Phoenix Suns.

Speaking after the Game 2 defeat to the top-seeded Suns, superstar Doncic described the Mavs' second-half defensive showing as "horrible".

But it was a much different story for a desperate Dallas side on Friday as Doncic and Jalen Brunson starred in a 103-94 win to trim the deficit to 2-1.

Doncic finished with 26 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists and two steals, while Brunson put up a game-high 28 points – six more than he managed over the first two games.

After helping to spoil Chris Paul's 37th birthday and keep the Suns at bay, Doncic explained why he felt the Mavs were more on it from a defensive standpoint.

"Energy, man. The crowd gets you going. The energy and the execution were better. That's what we've got to do every game," he said, in quotes reported by ESPN.

"I knew I had to do better. I knew I could do better. I think I made a big jump on defense this year. The second half (of Game 2) was horrible by me, and I knew I had to get back to my team and play better defense.

"We're going to believe until the end. Somebody's got to get to four wins, and no matter if you're down or you're up, you've got to believe."

Head coach Jason Kidd said after the Game 1 defeat that Doncic did not get enough support from his team-mates. He had a different view this time around.

"Everybody joined the party," Kidd said. 

"They helped out on both ends. Luka was great defensively. He participated, too. It puts us in a different position when that happens."

For Brunson, the target now is maintaining that same standard when Dallas aim to tie things up in Game 4 on Sunday.

"I found a way to bounce back tonight," Brunson said. 

"I just can’t be satisfied with this. Sunday’s going to be another brutal game. I have to bring the same energy, the same intensity, the same everything."

Jason Kidd repeated his plea for the rest of his Dallas Mavericks players to do more to help Luka Doncic after they fell 2-0 behind to the Phoenix Suns in the NBA playoffs.

Game 2 of their Western Conference semi-final was taken away from Dallas by the Suns in the second half on Wednesday, with the hosts scoring 71 points after half-time to eventually run out 129-109 victors at Footprint Center.

A sensational performance from Chris Paul was the catalyst for the number one seeds in the West, with 28 points as well as eight assists and six rebounds.

Paul was more than ably assisted by Devin Booker, who helped himself to 30 points on the night, but the game's top scorer Doncic (35) received less support.

The Slovenian added seven assists and five rebounds, with the next highest Dallas scorer, Reggie Bullock, only managing 16, while first-round star Jalen Brunson could only add nine.

Doncic is averaging 33.5 points per game for his playoff career – the most of all time – but coach Kidd accepts he cannot beat a team as good as the Suns on his own.

"He had a great game, but no one else showed," Kidd said. "We've got to get other guys shooting the ball better.

"We can't win with just him out there scoring 30 a night – not at this time of the year. And we're playing the best team in the league, so we've got to get other guys going.

"We need to do a better job of helping him. [The Suns are] bringing him up into everything. We knew that coming into the series. We knew that in the last series. We did a better job of protecting one another, not just Luka. We've got to get back to protecting one another for Game 3 back at home."

Doncic did not absolve himself of blame, though, adding: "I've just got to play better defense. That's it."

Mavs coach Kidd was also full of praise for Paul and Booker, acknowledging the Suns' gameplan worked to perfection.

"When you look at CP and Book, they took turns," Kidd said. "One took the third quarter, the next one took the fourth quarter, and we had no answers.

"They got the shots that they wanted. CP got to his spots and he made layups and made jump shots. Book made threes. They're really good. They understand the situation. They've seen it all. We've just got to be better."

Jason Kidd called on Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks team-mates to "join the party" after the Slovenian star's 45-point haul was not enough to deny the Phoenix Suns a Game 1 win.

The top-seeded Suns drew first blood in the Western Conference semi-finals on Monday, winning 121-114 at Footprint Center on Monday.

Three-time NBA All-Star Doncic was outstanding yet again, also taking 12 rebounds and providing eight assists to go with his huge tally of points.

Maxi Kleber was the second-highest points scorer for the Mavs with 19 and coach Kidd says Doncic will need more support ahead of Game 2 in Phoenix on Wednesday.

Kidd said: "He [Doncic] got whatever he wanted, when you look at the shots in the paint, behind the arc, midrange and then also I thought he got his team-mates some great looks that we normally had made.

"I thought he played great. We've just got to get someone to join the party."

Doncic did not brush over his analysis over where the Mavs had fallen short as he urged them to "attack the paint."

He said: "We've just got to attack more paint. I settled for a little too much step-backs for me. Attacking the paint is our lethal weapon.

"When we do that, we can score easily, especially with five-out and they've got a big rotating. We've got to attack more paint."

Deandre Ayton led the way for the Suns with 25, while Devin Booker posted 23 and had eight assists.

Suns coach Monty Williams said: "'I liked the fact that we weren't settling for threes. A lot of guys were attacking the paint, we were getting floaters and rim shots."

 

 

The Dallas Mavericks were united in their appreciation of Jalen Brunson after he scored 31 points in their 126-118 road win against the Utah Jazz to take a 2-1 series lead.

Brunson, coming off a career-high 41 points in Dallas' upset Game 2 win, was terrific once again, hitting 12-of-22 shots and all seven of his free throws, while also dishing five assists and committing only one turnover in 35 minutes.

Those 35 minutes would have been more if he was not forced to leave the floor in the second quarter for a short period of play after a hard hit in the back from Royce O'Neale, but he was able to return and carry his side down the stretch.

While Brunson was at the heart of everything the Mavericks were doing, he told post-game media about how he was inspired by watching his teammates battling while he was receiving treatment on his back.

"I saw how hard the team was playing when I was laying back there," he said. 

"It gave me a little mojo to come back out there and do my thing. We’re all on the same page, we’re all clicking, we’re all talking and communicating."

Mavericks coach Jason Kidd was careful to not get ahead of himself, but he gave praise to his starting backcourt.

"When you look at Spencer [Dinwiddie] and 'JB', those two have the ball, and there's no panic," he said.

"We always believe we're going to make the right play, share the ball on the offensive end, and then help each other on the defensive end – and that's what we did.

"In a hostile environment, against a very good team that's well-coached, we put ourselves in a position to win the game and found a way.

"I just told the guys – we haven’t done anything. They won at our place and now we won here. 

"We need to put this game behind us and figure out what we need to do better."

Dallas forward Maxi Kleber – who is shooting a scorching 14-of-21 from three-point range in the series – then took his turn to pat Brunson on the back, calling him "fun to watch".

"His shot-creating and shot-making has been amazing all season," he said. "But the determination he has coming down the stretch to hit those big shots, and the confidence he has, is just fun to watch."

Far from a sore loser, Jazz coach Quin Snyder also paid respect to the man who has authored two straight losses for a sputtering Utah side.

"[Brunson is] unique in his physical strength and his ability to kind of keep his dribble alive in the lane where he really uses his body," he said.

"He’s able to play with his feet on the floor, so if you do try to come over and help, he has the ability to find people and spray the ball out."

Game 4 will remain in Utah – where Luka Doncic is expected to return – before heading back to Dallas for Game 5.

Jalen Brunson is in line for "a lot of money" next season, according to Jason Kidd, after leading the Dallas Mavericks to a vital Game 2 win over the Utah Jazz.

Brunson was again leading the offense for the Mavericks at home to the Jazz as superstar Luka Doncic remained out with a calf injury.

Doncic's involvement moving forward is still uncertain, meaning the Mavericks needed a team-mate to step up – and Brunson certainly did that with a career-high 41 points in the 110-104 victory that levelled the first-round series.

Playing alongside the ball-dominant Doncic, Brunson's usage rate has been just 20.4 per cent across his regular season career, but he has had to take control through two games.

After shooting nine-of-24 from the floor in Game 1, including one-of-three from beyond the arc, Brunson found his range on Monday.

The point guard set career highs in field-goal attempts (25, tied with a regular season game also against the Jazz) and makes (15) and three-point attempts (10) and makes (six).

"He didn't wait," coach Kidd said. "He took up the space and was aggressive from the jump ball. We talked about it earlier: don't wait, get to your spot and do what you do best.

"I thought he ran the team extremely well. He found spots to score and he made plays."

Brunson is in the final year of his rookie contract and will be an unrestricted free agent following the playoffs, putting him in a strong negotiating position on this form.

Asked what money his player could expect to make, Kidd replied: "A lot, a lot. He's going to make a lot of money. I don't know if he needs an agent, but I'm going to put my name in the hat.

"But it's not just what he did tonight and it's not what he's going to do going forward, he has already done the work this season. He's shown he deserves to be paid. He does his job at a very high level and he's a winner.

"Hopefully he can pay me for that, what I just said.

"He's a great young man and I'm very lucky to be able to coach him."

Brunson was not alone in finding joy from three, as Maxi Kleber shot eight-of-11, contributing to 47 attempts from the Mavericks.

On the defensive end, meanwhile, Dallas held the Jazz to 29 attempts after only 22 in Game 1. Utah averaged 40.3 three-point attempts in the regular season, the second-most in the NBA.

"Analytics will say if you're shooting threes and the other team's shooting twos, you have a great chance of winning," Kidd said. "It's just mathematics."

Still, the coach is not getting carried away ahead of going on the road for Games 3 and 4.

"We did what we had to do, and that was to win tonight. We were only focused on tonight," he said.

"Game 1 was over, there was nothing we could do. Now we can rest and get ready for Game 3, understand what's in front of us, what's coming.

"It's going to be a hostile environment; they play extremely well at home. We have to stay together, and we've shown that.

"After Game 1, it's easy to go our separate ways, but all season we've been saying this: after bad performances, we tend to bounce back. It's nothing different; it's basketball and we bounced back.

"Now we have to find a way to do what they did, and that's just win one game [on the road]."

Luka Doncic is reportedly unlikely to play for the Dallas Mavericks in Game 2 of their first-round series against the Utah Jazz.

The Mavericks superstar missed the potentially damaging 99-93 home defeat to the Jazz in the series opener as he recovers from a calf strain sustained in the final game of the regular season.

Although Doncic took part in light shooting drills over the weekend, an ESPN report said the Slovenian "would have to make dramatic improvement" ahead of Monday's game in order to be cleared to return.

That report at least provided more clarity than Mavericks coach Jason Kidd was able to offer.

"Yesterday was another good day, and today he's back on the court, so that's a plus," Kidd said on Sunday. "And we'll see how he feels tomorrow."

Dallas will fear another defeat in Doncic's absence and a 2-0 deficit before going on the road.

Despite averaging 33.5 points – the most of any player to feature in 13 or more postseason games – Doncic has never won a playoff series.

The Dallas Mavericks have not ruled out All-Star Luka Doncic from Saturday's NBA first round playoffs opening game against the Utah Jazz despite confirming a left calf strain.

Doncic limped from the court in Sunday's win over the San Antonio Spurs, putting him in doubt ahead of the playoffs.

The Mavericks announced that an MRI on Monday had confirmed the superstar had suffered a strain in his calf but did not set a timetable on his recovery.

"If he's able to go out and put on his shoes, then he's going to go," Mavs head coach Jason Kidd told reporters after Tuesday's practice.

"If he can't, we're not going to put him in a situation to jeopardize it and make things worse."

The Mavericks will turn to Spencer Dinwiddie to start if Doncic is unavailable. Doncic has an NBA-high 37 per cent usage rate this season.

Dinwiddie has averaged 15.8 points and 3.9 assists in 23 games for the Mavs since his trade deadline deal from the Washington Wizards.

Doncic averaged 28.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 8.7 assists this season.

Luka Doncic limped off the court during the Dallas Mavericks' 130-120 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, leaving him in doubt to start the Mavs' playoff series against the Utah Jazz.

The two-time All-Star left the court with 2:24 remaining in the third quarter, injuring his calf during an offensive possession. He quickly grabbed at his injured calf and asked for the Mavs bench to call a timeout.

The 23-year-old was originally suspended from playing Sunday's game, before the NBA rescinded his 16th technical foul of the season, which he received in Friday's win over the Portland Trailblazers.

Doncic was diagnosed with a left calf strain after leaving the court with Mavs director of athletic performance Casey Smith, and did not return to the game.

"We'll know more tomorrow," Mavs coach Jason Kidd said of Doncic post-game. "They were going to [get] their normal run the second half because it's a week [before the first game against Utah]. So we just felt we'd keep the regular rotation and they'd be done by the third quarter and go from there.

"I thought he was cramping up, but I haven't talked to Casey. Hopefully it's not too serious.

"But with that being said, injuries are a part of the game. We'll see how he feels. The good news is that we have won home court and we have a week before we play."

Before leaving the floor, Doncic had put up 26 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in just 29 minutes.

With the Golden State Warriors also defeating the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday and rendering the Mavs game inconsequential to playoff placings in the Western Conference, Jason Kidd's side still needed to hold up their end of the bargain.

On the prospect of the matchup with the Jazz, Kidd asserted it will not be an easy series, whether Doncic is on the floor or not.

"It's going to be interesting," he said. "They're well coached. They [have] got All-Stars, and they've been together for a while.

"They've been through a lot of playoff games together. This is going to be a great test for us. It should be a tough series."

Luka Doncic maintained his record-breaking pace as he broke into the top 10 scorers in Dallas Mavericks history on Monday.

Doncic, still just 23 and in only his fourth season in the NBA, scored 35 against the Utah Jazz to move to 6,485 points in a Mavs uniform, nudging ahead of Jay Vincent (6,464) into 10th place.

The Slovenian has reached that mark in just 248 games, with only eight NBA players scoring more at this stage of their careers since 1963-64 – essentially a who's who of the sport's greatest names, including Michael Jordan (8,023), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (7,896), Shaquille O'Neal (6,766) and LeBron James (6,593).

Only among Mavs players, nobody can match Doncic, with Mark Aguirre (6,169) the sole other to pass 6,000 points within 250 games. Unsurprisingly, Doncic's 26.1 career points per game lead all-time Mavs players.

"There's some great scorers on that list," coach Jason Kidd – who is 15th (5,258) – said after the win against the Jazz.

"To do it in less than four years... that's pretty impressive. Kudos to him. He's special, and he showed it tonight."

Doncic is scoring 28.0 points per game this season – good for fifth in the NBA, as Joel Embiid's 29.7 points lead the way.

After a slow start, the Mavs superstar has accelerated up the standings in his past 15 games, averaging 34.1 points as well as 10.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists.

Since the 1976-77 merger, the only other players to average 34 points, eight rebounds and eight assists over a 15-game span have been Jordan and Russell Westbrook.

Doncic told reporters he was not aware of breaking into the Mavs' top 10 but said of the scoring pace that put him there: "Is it good? Could be better, right? Could be better."

Jason Kidd has run out of ways to describe Luka Doncic who, according to the Dallas Mavericks coach, "just gets better".

Doncic was at the top of his game on Thursday, as he scored 49 points in a 125-118 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.

The 22-year-old became the first player in NBA history to score 40+ points, have 15 or more rebounds, provide at least five assists, make five or more threes and have a plus-minus of +20 or better, all in a single game.

Doncic averages 27.5 points, 9.2 rebounds and 9.0 assists per game from 44 appearances this season, leading the Mavs in each of those categories.

"Luka set the tone early and often," Kidd told reporters. "We can sit here and talk about him all day. The things that he does on the court for himself and his team-mates are incredible.

"We've used every noun and adjective to describe his game. He just gets better."

Doncic's points tally was just two shy of the career-high 51 he set against the Los Angeles Clippers on February 10. 

The Slovenian has now had 45 points or higher in three of his last four games, but Doncic was actually underwhelmed by parts of his display.

"I didn't really notice, but my career-high in points [before] was about 44 or 45 points. I definitely felt good for two quarters, but the last quarter was just very bad," he said.

"There were too many bad shots, but we still got a win, so I'm happy."

Team-mate Maxi Kleber, however, did not share Doncic's frustration.

"What he's doing right now is unbelievable," Kleber said. "He's just gifted as a team-mate. It's fun to watch."

Luka Doncic banked 40 points for the Dallas Mavericks but still felt he was to blame for Wednesday's 120-114 overtime defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The two-time NBA All-Star impressed with a further 10 assists, five rebounds and three steals, yet it was not enough to prevent the Mavericks from falling to back-to-back defeats.

The Thunder scored a quick lay-up with eight seconds remaining of regulation time to tie the contest, with Doncic missing on a 28-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Despite registering his second-highest score of the season, one short of the 41 managed against the Toronto Raptors last month, Doncic was not pleased with his overall display.

"That was just my bad. I didn't see it coming," said Doncic of his defense on the Thunder's final shot in regulation. 

"This game is on me… the last two possessions shouldn't happen. By far, my worst defensive game this year for sure, and it's just on me."

It is the first time since Christmas that the Mavericks have lost successive games and leaves them fifth in the Western Conference, now 29-23 for the season.

Lu Dort was the hero for Oklahoma, scoring 14 straight points in overtime and 30 in total – his second 30-point game of the season, compared to one in the previous two years.

"In the biggest part of the game, he had his foot on the gas and closed it out for us," said Thunder coach Mark Daigneault.

The Mavericks had won their previous eight home games, but head coach Jason Kidd had no complaints about the defeat.

"They just played harder than we did," Kidd said. "When it got tight there, we started to play better. 

"We put ourselves in a position like Orlando: Someone had to make a shot – someone did. We just couldn't get the stop on the other end."

Rick Carlisle was moved to tears by a video tribute on his first return to the Dallas Mavericks, who he then backed for a big season under successor Jason Kidd.

Carlisle was Mavs coach for 13 years before resigning at the end of last season, with Kidd appointed in his place.

Kidd was a player under Carlisle when they won the only NBA title in franchise history back in 2011.

Carlisle is now coach of the Indiana Pacers and, after winning his first matchup with the Mavs in Indiana in December, he returned to Dallas on Saturday.

As his achievements with the Mavs were recognised, Carlisle said: "I was not expecting anything like that. It was a wonderful gesture, very much appreciated."

Mavs superstar Luka Doncic added: "I've been with him my first three years and learned a lot of things.

"He helped me in a way, too, so it was a special moment. The tribute was special to him. You could see it, and he deserves it."

Kidd said: "He helped all of us achieve that one goal that we play for, and that was to win a championship. He set the bar high for the next coach or coaches."

Kidd is now giving it his best shot, as his team were far less accommodating of Carlisle on the court, dominating in a 132-105 victory – led by Doncic's 30 points and 12 assists.

The Mavs are on a 13-3 run, coinciding with Doncic's return to form and fitness, and have the talent to trouble the leading teams in the Western Conference – although Kristaps Porzingis exited with knee soreness against Indiana.

Carlisle, who recommended Kidd for his role, said: "He's done a tremendous job.

"His history here, as a player who was drafted here, a Hall of Fame player on a championship team here, I know the kind of warrior he is when it comes to winning and how smart he is. They're a major threat in the West."

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