Dallas Mavericks coach Jason Kidd described what happened to point guard Isaiah Thomas as pure “buzzard’s luck.”Thomas

One day after being contacted by the Mavs on Wednesday while grocery shopping at home in Seattle, Thomas surprisingly found himself in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. That came less than 24 hours after Thomas quickly hopped on a plane and flew to Sacramento in time for the Mavs’ game against the Kings on Wednesday, where he contributed six points and four assists in just 13 minutes after signing a 10-day contract with Dallas under the COVID-related hardship allowance.

“To be in the grocery store and to get another opportunity. . .I thought he did a great job coming off the plane and being able to help us put us in a position to win,” Kidd said. “And then the next morning find out that you’re positive (for COVID-19), it’s unlucky.

“You can say it’s unfair because he’s done everything to put himself in a position to come back.”

Before joining the Mavs, Thomas had just completed a quick stint after signing a 10-day contract under the COVID-related hardship allowance with the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s the same contract point guard Brandon Knight signed with the Mavs last week.

And after averaging 10 points and 2.7 assists in 18.3 minutes while playing three games with the Mavs, Knight also entered the health and safety protocols earlier this week in what Kidd considers as another buzzard’s luck situation.

“You look at B-Knight, same thing,” Kidd said. “He’s done everything to put himself in a position to come back and play. Both of those guys put us in a position to win games.

“So for those two to be out, it’s unfair. But everybody is going to go through it and we’re just going to have to stay positive.”

Before Friday’s 112-96 victory over the Kings, Kidd said he hadn’t had a chance to talk to Thomas since learning the 32-year old was in the health and safety protocols.

Thomas“I have a list of people (in the health and safety protocols) that’s long, and IT is at the bottom of the list,” Kidd said. “It’s just because he came in as one of the last guys.

“A text goes out every morning to the people who are in the health and safety protocols, and he’s going to get one today. I will reach out to him to see how he’s doing.”

Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr., Maxi Kleber, Boban Marjanovic, Trey Burke and JaQuori McLaughlin – along with Thomas and Knight — all missed Friday’s game while in the health and safety protocols.

What’s the process in keeping tabs on all of those players?

“It starts early because the positive tests come out early, so there’s an early wave, and then I will start sending text to the players that were in protocol early,” Kidd said. “And then you kind of turn to game planning.

“Then you’ll take a pause, because in the afternoon there will be another list of positives or negatives, then you can kind of get to the game planning after that part.”

In essence, it’s just another level of responsibilities a coach has to attend to on game days.
“Just a lot of texts or phone calls to people who were leaving across the United States from Utah to Portland,” Kidd said. “We’ll need people here in Sacramento because we have some positives.

“It doesn’t sound right, but that’s just what we’re going through as a team.”

And that’s just part of daily activities for Kidd, because COVID-19 has virtually canceled all team practice and shootaround sessions.

“No gatherings here, Kidd said. “We’ve only had individual workouts.

“If we gather, we’ll put everybody in jeopardy, so there’s only individual workouts. There’s no shootarounds.”

KIDD’S NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION: With so many of his players in the health and safety protocols, coach Jason Kidd has a simple New Year’s resolution he’s established for himself.Kidd

“I think you always talk about health,” he said. “Health is important. Not just for me, but for everyone in our country. Just think positive.

“We’ve got to have fun. This is starting to wear on people. We just look at is as just bodies, but they’re human and we’re leaving people behind. We just got to stay positive and stay together.”

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Yes, the Mavs beat the Kings by 16 points on Friday. But they’re still smarting from Wednesday night, when Chimezie Metu’s three-pointer at the buzzer led the kings to a dramatic 95-94 win over the Mavs.

So how do the Mavs make improvements in games that wind up very close?

“Just listen,” coach Jason Kidd said. “You’ve got to listen. It’s not about the physical. It’s mental.

“What happened in that (Wednesday night) game was just a listening proponent. (The defensive strategy) was talked about in the huddle. It was talked about on the sideline.”

The Mavs are now 4-6 this season in games decided by six points or less. Winning their fair share of the close games, Kidd said, can go a very long ways once the playoff invitations are doled out.

“That’s what separates the great teams is they’re able to listen to one another,” Kidd said. “That’s what it comes down to in close games.

“You’re going to get a shot. Defensively, you’ve got to figure out what you’re supposed to do, and if you do it then you tip your hat if they make a shot. But I think it just comes down to listening.”

BRIEFLY: Since point guards Jalen Brunson and Frank Ntilikina started in Wednesday’s game against the Kings, and were – earlier FrankFriday – the only remaining healthy point guards on the Mavs’ roster besides rookie Carlik Jones, coach Jason Kidd was asked if he would perhaps not start Brunson or Ntilikina on Friday so he’ll have a veteran point guard to run the team’s second unit. “I can’t answer that right now,” Kidd said. “We’re trying to figure out if I’m eligible to play tonight.” A short time later, Ntilikina was ruled out of Friday’s game due to a left thigh bruise. By the way, the 10-day contract under the COVID-related hardship allowance which Jones signed last week ends on Saturday. . .Prior to Friday’s contest, the Mavs signed Marquese Chriss and Theo Pinson each to a second 10-day contract under the COVID-related hardship allowance. Before Friday’s game, Chriss averaged 6.3 ppg and 4.8 rpg in 12.3 mpg and shot 55 percent from the field in four games with the Mavs. And Pinson averaged 5.0 ppg, and 3.0 rpg in 15.8 mpg in five games with the Mavs. Chriss contributed eight points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes in Friday’s win over the Kings, and Pinson was scoreless with three assists in eight minutes. . .Because of COVID-19 and the way the schedules were arranged by the NBA last season and this season, the Mavs played 103 in the calendar year 2021. And their won-loss record was 58-45 for a winning percentage of 56.3 percent. That’s the most games the Mavs have ever played in one calendar year, topping the 93 games they played in 2012.

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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