At least we can say, a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Mavericks coach Jason Kidd is finally trying some things. And if the numbers from Wednesday night are any indication, he might have found something that works.
Kidd drew the frustration of Mavs fans in the early weeks of the year by sticking with a starting five that was clearly underperforming—Luka Doncic and Tim Hardaway in the backcourt, Kristaps Porzingis and Dorian Finney-Smith at forward and Dwight Powell in the middle.
Kidd began by altering the center spot first, last week. But on Wednesday, he pulled Tim Hardaway Jr. from the starting five and put in Reggie Bullock. All the Mavs did was score 139 points and shoot a franchise-best 68.7% from the field.
“Just looking at different lineups, starters,” Kidd said. “We tried Moses (Brown) the other night, we thought we could try Reggie. I talked to Timmy beforehand about the idea. He was on board. That just shows his leadership to be able to give a teammate an opportunity to start. Timmy didn’t do anything wrong to deserve not to start, just, again I went to him and talked to him about giving Reggie a chance to start to see if that could give us a different look.”
Hardaway Accepted Mavericks Demotion
Even with the starting role, Bullock did not play all that much against New Orleans, logging 18:26 of playing time. He has averaged 22.7 minutes per game this season. He might have played more but, because the game was a blowout, Bullock sat out the entire fourth quarter.
Hardaway, for his part, played well off the bench, with 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting. He made four of seven 3-point attempts. “I took it with a grain of salt and moved forward,” he said. “It’s nothing I haven’t handled in the past. We’re all professionals. We’re all here to win. I think he just wanted to switch something up and we move forward. Glad we got to win today.”
The Mavericks were led by Luka Doncic, who had 28 points and 14 assists (though he also committed eight turnovers).
“Luka, I thought, set the tone,” Kidd said. “He was Luka again tonight. Not just posting up, he was finding the open man and I thought it was no-stress again for us.”
While Kidd did not let on whether he would keep this lineup going forward—he could remove Powell from the mix—it’s obvious that the Mavs’ offense was humming. That was not the case on Monday against Cleveland, when the Mavs were stifled, held to just 96 points in a home loss. They’d dropped two straight before Wednesday’s win.
Mavericks Battered League-Worst Defensive Team
Kidd was happy to see the team set a Mavs record for shooting. It is worth mentioning that New Orleans is one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA, and does rank 30th in field-goal percentage allowed. The good news is, the Mavs see New Orleans again on Friday night in Dallas.
“That’s pretty cool, we’re happy it’s December,” Kidd said. “But to break a record like that which how many great offensive teams the Dallas Mavericks have had just shows the carryover, the response this team has after the last outing, after the last two outings. Being able to move the ball, I thought everybody touched it. We got wide-open looks that we’ve been getting and they started to go down for us. It all started with our defense and our transition.”
Doncic only seemed mildly impressed with the new lineup. It’s likely we’ll see it again on Friday, but who knows beyond that?
“It’s 82 games,” Doncic said. “You gotta try new things. Sometimes it will help, sometimes won’t. I thought this was a day it helped and we played great.”