Coach Jason Kidd said the Mavs weren’t waving the white flag by sitting Kyrie Irving and pulling Luka Doncic in a must-win game against the Bulls on Friday.
The Mavericks lost, and one year after advancing to the West finals, they won’t be back in the playoffs.
“It’s not so much waving the white flag,” Kidd said, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “Decisions sometimes are hard in this business, and you have to make hard decisions. We’re trying to build a championship team, and sometimes you gotta take a step back.
“Understanding with this decision, this is maybe a step back, but hopefully it leads to going forward.”
- The Mavs were just 5-11 with Irving and Doncic in the lineup together. “That ranks as the worst by a pair of All-Star teammates since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976-77,” MacMahon noted, citing ESPN Stats & Information research.
- They were the fifth seed in the West when they made the trade for Irving in February. We have more on the Mavs here.
The Lakers experienced quite a turnaround after a 2-10 start, and LeBron James suggested it’s something of which the team can be proud.
“I was just telling (Anthony Davis), I was like, ‘Man, can you believe that we’re going to finish this season above .500? After everything that’s gone on this season?'” James said, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “We’ve turned this thing around. And it’s the regular season, obviously, there’s a lot more basketball to be played. But to know that we’re going to finish a few games above .500? It’s pretty cool.”
Coach Darvin Ham added that there is more work to be done as the Lakers head back to the postseason.
“I’m definitely happy that we were able to fight through that adversity and try to find the right pieces that fit and we were able to march on through,” Ham said. “Our work is not done by a long shot, so it’ll be great at some point to think back, but hopefully I’ll be thinking about this the first year after we’re holding the trophy or something. … In the short form, it’s a lot to be proud of. And in the long form, we’ve got more work to do.”
If the Warriors stay healthy, they will have an excellent shot to repeat as champions, guard Klay Thompson indicated.
“I don’t see a team who can beat us in a seven-game series when we’re healthy,” Thompson said, via Kendra Andrews of ESPN.
Coach Steve Kerr seemed to agree.
“We’ve always been a team that lives on the edge,” Kerr said, via Andrews. “We’re a little wild, a little chaotic, but we’ve thrived in that chaos for many years. We just can’t cross the edge. … It’s up to us. We have it in us. But the focus, the attention to detail, it all has to be there.”
The Warriors could still fall back into the play-in tournament if they lose Sunday — and the Lakers, Pelicans and Clippers all win.
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