There’s absolutely no perfect time when an NBA coach should use his “challenge” on an officiating call that went against his team.
Usually the coach, one of his assistant coaches, or one of his quick-thinking staff members have already seen the play on tape. And they can either try to convince the coach to challenge the call, or tell him they probably won’t win the challenge.
Also, the player that’s involved in the play in question will likely lobby for the coach to challenge the call. Especially if that player unequivocally knows the referee blew the call.
Such was the case in Monday’s game against the Utah Jazz.
With 6:49 remaining, the Mavs led by only 10 points. The referees blew the whistle and said a ball went off the hands of point guard Luka Doncic. However, Doncic was demonstrative in explaining to Kidd that Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell was the last person to touch the ball before it went out of bounds.
Doncic convinced Kidd to use his coach’s challenge. Kidd took his star player’s advice, the Mavs won the challenge, and then nine seconds later Spencer Dinwiddie drained a three-pointer that put the Mavs ahead 96-83 in a game they eventually won, 111-103.
“If (Doncic) was 101 percent (convincing), then I would challenge it,” Kidd said. “All players want to challenge. They all believe they’re right. I guess (Doncic) was trying to tell me in a nice way that we needed to challenge it, so we did and it was a big possession for us.”
Still, Kidd knows there is no ideal time to use his coach’s challenge. But he knows they have to use it wisely, because they only get one per game.
“All players and our ownership want us to challenge, but there’s a time and place,” Kidd said. “We’ve lost some challenges and we’ve won some. But that was a big challenge for us, because we got three points out of it.
“You can’t challenge them all. You only have one, so you’ve got to just pick your time and place and hopefully it goes your way.”
Kidd lost his coach’s challenge just before halftime of Wednesday’s 107-77 loss to the New York Knicks when the referees ruled that the call stood on a play where they said guard Jalen Brunson stepped out of bounds.
Kidd said he hopes the NBA’s competition committee doesn’t change the rule during the offseason and give each coach an additional challenge each game, because that would make games longer.
“Challenges are used a lot by the referees under two minutes (remaining in the game),” Kidd said. “So you should use your challenge before then, because everybody’s going to review with two minutes left to see who the ball went out on or if there’s a foul, so you only need one challenge.”
DINWIDDIE FITTING IN: The Mavs are pleasantly surprised at how quickly point guard Spencer Dinwiddie has fit in with his new teammates.
Davis Bertans and Dinwiddie were acquired by the Mavs in a Feb. 10 trade which sent Kristaps Porzingis and a protected 2022 second-round draft pick to the Washington Wizards.
Before Wednesday, Dinwiddie had scored 20 or more points in four of the previous six games, and was averaging 22.3 points and 5.3 assists during that period. He also was shooting a healthy 55.3 percent from the field and 48.5 percent from three-point range during that span.
“Spencer is playing great,” coach Jason Kidd said. “As we know trades, or when we sign a free agent in the offseason, you want things to work right away. Sometimes it takes time.
“But Spencer has fit right in. He’s started for us (and) he’s come off the bench. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. (He’s) competed on the offensive end, and defensively he’s picked up the principles very well.”
The Mavs were 5-1 in games Dinwiddie played before the 30-point loss to the Knicks. He also scored a season-high 36 points and handed out seven assists in last Saturday’s win over the Sacramento Kings.
SETTING UP THE DEFENSE: As with any team where he’s become the coach, Jason Kidd said the most difficult thing to implement is getting his players to play lock-down defense
“Defense is the hardest because first you’ve got to get them to want to play defense,” Kidd said. “They all want to play offense – that’s easy.”
Last year the Mavs only held 14 opponents under 100 points. They’ve already accomplished that feat 24 times this season and have a 20-4 record in those games.
“Looking at the continuity and the connection that these guys have had here, once they understood what we were asking them to do (defensively), they’re doing it at a very high level for us,” Kidd said. “Win or lose, we believe we’re one of the better defensive teams in this league.”
KIDD’S TENURE WITH THE KNICKS: When Jason Kidd left the Mavs as a player via free agency in 2012, he played the 2012-13 season for the Knicks.
It was Kidd’s final season of his illustrious 19-year career before he took over the next season as the coach of the Brooklyn Nets. When asked what he remembers about his tenure with the Knicks, Kidd said: “It was short. I think we lost in the second round to Frank Vogel’s Indiana team. But we had a heckuva run, it was fun, (Madison Square) Garden was rocking, but we came up short.”
The Knicks defeated the Boston Celtics in six games in the first round of the playoffs, then lost to Indiana in six games. The playoff series against the Celtics is the last time the Knicks have won a playoff series, and last year was the first time the Knicks qualified for the playoffs since Kidd played for them.
Ironically, prior to becoming the Mavs’ coach last summer, Kidd was an assistant coach on Vogel’s Los Angeles Lakers’ staff for two seasons. And the Lakers won the 2020 NBA title in the bubble in suburban Orlando.
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