Three games into his new gig with his new team, Josh Richardson has already shown why the Dallas Mavericks made acquiring him in the offseason such a high priority.
Richardson has been very effective on both ends of the floor as he’s not only kept defenses honest with his ability to score, but he’s also kept up his penchant for being a menace on the defensive side of the court.
“JRich has given us a really unique element,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He has a leadership presence, he has a calming presence on a team that can be emotional at times, and yet he’s a tenacious competitor.
“He takes challenges defensively. Look, we love hm. We really do and we’re really happy to have him with us.”
In Sunday’s 124-73 historic hammering of the Los Angeles Clippers, Richardson tallied 21 points in just 27 minutes, and was 8-of-13 from the field and 4-of-8 from 3-point land. More importantly, the shooting guard hasn’t wasted much time meshing in the backcourt with point guard Luka Doncic.
“He’s a great player and he’s a great teammate, too,” Doncic said. “He likes soccer, and we talk about soccer, too. He does some trash talking, too, about his (soccer) team and my (soccer) team.”
When the first quarter ended Sunday with the Mavs ahead, 36-13, Richardson and Doncic each had already put up 13 points on the scoreboard. It’s the first time in 20 years that two members of the Mavs scored at least 13 points in the first quarter, but Carlisle knows individual stats are not on the mind of Richardson and Doncic.
“They have an affinity for each other,” Carlisle said. “They respect each other as players, and there’s chemistry that’s building each game.
“I don’t think they would tell you that the stats mean anything to them in terms of two guys scoring 13 points in a quarter. None of that stuff should matter, but in your world it’s a tangible example of chemistry, so great, we’ll roll with it.”
Richardson, who joined the Mavs last month in a draft day trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, also is rolling with everything that has gone so well with his new team.
“It’s been great,” Richardson said. “These guys have accepted me with open arms and that’s all I can really ask for.
“I’m repaying that by playing as hard as I can every night. I’m a team-first guy already, so that’s not a problem, but it’s great being around the whole team.”
For Richardson and the Mavs, it also was great being up by a massive 50 points – 77-27 – during halftime against the Clippers. It’s the largest halftime lead in NBA history.
But what message do the players tell themselves when they have such a comfortable lead at the midway point of the game?
“We made sure to make sure everybody knew that it’s a long game,” Richardson said. “In the NBA crazy things have happened.
“We knew they were going to make a run – a real run – and they did that. They went on a little 10-point run at the beginning of the third (quarter), but I think we withstood that and got back to what we were doing.”
And what Richardson has been doing in his three games with the Mavs suits Carlisle just fine. In those games he’s averaging 16.7 points and is 19-of34 from the field for 55.9 percent and 8-of-20 from 3-point range for 40 percent.
“He’s a very good player on both sides of the ball,” Carlisle said. “He can score, he can shoot long-range, he can make plays in the lane, and defensively his ability to guard point guards, (shooting) guards, (small forwards is solid).
“And we don’t mind situations where he switches onto (power forwards) and (centers) at times because he’s long, he’s experienced and he has a real good nose for the ball, so we really like him as a player. I think as games continue to come, he’s going to be more and more used to the guys that he’s playing with and vice-versa.”
After Friday’s 138-115 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers dropped the Mavs to 0-2 on the season, that didn’t make Richardson waver on the way he approached Sunday’s game against the Clippers.
“I didn’t approach the game (against the Clippers) really any differently than I approach any game,” he said. “I think that after our practice yesterday we were very detail-oriented and figured out what we were going to do on these coverages so we wouldn’t get lost today, and I think that helped us.
“There’s no huge secret. I think we just got up, played well today. We came with a little more of a sense of urgency.”
Bubble and regular season protocols: The protocols the Mavs went through in the bubble in Orlando last summer got them prepared for the protocols they’re going through in the regular season.
“We’ve had several months now of not normally operating,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “These are inconveniences, but right now they’re realities. I don’t see any of our guys complaining about it or making excuses about it.
“Of course we’d like the world to be in a better place than it is right now. With the (coronavirus) vaccine here and being administered and stuff like that, things certainly will get better. But right now we’ve got to adapt and we’ve got to find ways to come together as a team in a very difficult beginning of the season with the schedule.”
Carlisle praises Lue: Coach Rick Carlisle had high praise for Tyronn Lue, who is his first season as the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Lue, now 43 years old, coached the Cleveland Cavaliers to a world title in 2016. He also played 17 games for the Mavs for 2018.
“Hey look, he’s a championship coach,” Carlisle said. “He did a phenomenal job in Cleveland. They came back from 3-1 in that series in 2016 to win the championship.
“I consider him to be a top level coach and a terrific person as well.”