LOS ANGELES – Maybe it was the news of Kyrie Irving coming to the Mavericks that triggered a monster night for Jaden Hardy in the 124-111 whipping of the Utah Jazz Monday night at Vivint Arena.
Hardy had a season-best 29 points and pretty much fueled the Mavericks’ upset of the Jazz, along with Josh Green, who matched Hardy’s point total.
The rookie second-round draft pick said he was stoked about the trade to get Irving, at least partly because he’s tried to pattern his game somewhat after the eight-time All-Star who the Mavericks traded for on Monday.
“Kyrie is a guy I watched a lot growing up, said Hardy, 10 years younger than the 30-year-old Irving. “The pace he plays with, the way he can finish around the basket, acrobatic. There’s a variety of things that make him so special.
“My first thought (on the trade) is it’s going to be scary with him and LD. We got a goal and that’s to win a championship so I feel like him coming in is going to help us a lot.”
So will Hardy, if he continues to hoop the way he did against the Jazz, when he and Green became the first Mavericks under 23 years old to score 25 points in the same game. The last pair to do that was Jason Kidd and Jamal Mashburn in 1995.
Kidd has been impressed by the improvement Hardy has made during his first six months as an NBA player. Mistakes will be made, as they always are by young players.
But Kidd admitted he’s got to let Hardy grow.
“Hardy’s potential, the plan of bringing him along, he’s working,” Kidd said. “And we’re going to have to give him some minutes here. The way he’s playing, the maturity he has on the floor, understanding how to get to the basket. He gives us something we don’t have and that’s speed.”
Here’s our other takeaways from the shorthanded win over Utah:
LET’S GET PHYSICAL: The Mavericks not only outrebounded the Jazz, they massacred them on the boards, 49-37. Dwight Powell had 16 rebounds. The Mavericks doubled the Jazz in second-chance points 24-12 and their board work helped spring their fast break as they got 27 points in transition to just four for the Jazz. And everybody got involved in the aggressive mentality in the paint. “There was a play in the first half where (5-11 McKinley) Wright boxes out (7-1 Walker) Kessler,” Kidd said. “I thought the physicality for us was at a high, no matter how small we were. We talked about it before the game: can we be physical? We felt like we weren’t physical in the Golden State game (on Saturday). Can we be the ones hitting first and not the ones responding to the hit?” The answer after Monday was a resounding yes.
NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR GREEN: While he has steadily increased his role this season, Green now has a terrific chance to get even more responsibility for the Mavericks. The trade of Dorian Finney-Smith, the Mavericks’ best defensive player, means somebody is going to inherit the job of guarding the best wing or guard on the opposing team. That somebody could be Green. “The only way you can really be ready is by doing it and continuing to do it,” the third-year swingman said about upgraded defensive responsibility. “So for me, whenever my first opportunity is to do that, just take advantage. I know I’m going to make mistakes. I’m a young player. But I know I’m going to put 100 percent into guarding that player. I’ve also been able to learn a lot from Doe seeing him guard these players.”
LET THE FUN BEGIN: The Mavericks were able to ignite the Kyrie Irving era before he even got here. After they survived a game without Luka Doncic for the first time this season (they are 1-7 when he doesn’t play), the confidence of the Mavericks should be soaring as Irving and Markieff Morris likely make their debuts as Mavs on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Share and comment