Luka Dončić got a well-deserved rest Wednesday night against Houston, the first time this season he’s sat out.
It was good news in one respect. His run of three consecutive games with a technical foul came to a halt. While players have been known to draw the wrath of referees when they aren’t in a game, it’s rare. And Luka escaped any transgressions from the safety of the bench area.
But the first rest game of the season for the NBA’s scoring leader also meant that coach Jason Kidd got a chance to answer questions about Luka’s interactions with game officials.
It’s been a nagging problem for Dončić his whole career.
“It’s something we have to talk about,” Kidd said. “I think he’s got five (this season). So, we’ll talk about it. He understands where he’s at. He’s always been good about getting up to that number and not going past that number.”
That number would be 16 technical fouls. When a player reaches that threshold, he receives a one-game suspension.
Dončić has many ways of getting his point across to referees when he feels the whistle isn’t blowing when it should. It typically happens when he’s been knocked to the floor on a move toward the rim.
Often, he is slow to get up, but that’s part of the message he likes to send to refs.
It also sends the Mavericks into emergency defensive mode.
“We practice that all the time,” Kidd said. “It’s not a Luka drill. Some guys fall down, some guys will want to express themselves to the officials. You’re a guy down, so you got to be able to hold it until he gets back. And so, you practice this drill not just because of Luka, but it’s something that happens in this league. Spencer (Dinwiddie) goes to the hole and he gets hit or falls and there’s no call, we got to be able to zone it up and hold it until that guy gets back in the play.”
Dwight Powell said that when a player is slow to get into the defensive scheme for whatever reason, the rest of the players know exactly what to do.
“Get the heck back,” he said. “Situations like that happen. You just got to scramble and make sure the ball is taken care of first. And then locate the threats and try to scramble as much as you can and give our guy a chance to get back in the play.
“Usually, we just try to load up and make them make more than one pass and usually the guy will be back on the weak side by them. The longer we can hold them off from giving them any look, it buys a couple seconds.”
And it serves another important purpose. It buys Luka, or whoever happens to be on the other end of the court, a chance for a couple of breaths.
Bobi’s back: Boban Marjanovic spent three seasons with the Mavericks before he was traded to Houston as part of the Christian Wood deal.
He made his first appearance back at American Airlines Center on Wednesday and was greeted with a well-done video-board tribute between the first and second quarters.
Bobi responded with his full-arm heart as fans gave him a standing ovation. Marjanovic did not play in the game.
Silas applauds former Rocket Wood: The Mavericks acquired Christian Wood from Houston in the offseason after he had two productive seasons with Rockets’ coach Stephen Silas.
The Rockets traded Wood because they are in a serious rebuild and Wood didn’t fit with the style they are trying to implement.
He’s done well since his arrival in Dallas, averaging 15.8 points and 7.5 rebounds and shooting 45.5 percent from 3-point range going into Wednesday’s meeting with his former team.
“I told him that him playing with Luka is going to be great for him because when he played with James Harden for a short period of time, his rolls and pops are different when you’re playing with a guy who really makes those plays like Luka,” Silas said before Wednesday’s game. “So, I told him that he should be excited about two things: about playing with Luka, but also playing for this organization that just went to the Western Conference Finals.
“I don’t think he’s ever been in the playoffs before, so the opportunity for him to play for a team like this is something that I’m happy for him.”
Though Dončić didn’t play Wednesday, Wood still had a terrific night against the Rockets with 26 points and eight rebounds.
And Silas said that it’s not just on the court where Wood has grown significantly during his seven NBA seasons.
“He knows the business better than anybody,” Silas said. “He’s been through a lot. But he’s grown up a lot as he’s gone through. He came in basically as a kid and then has had ups and downs and successes. And he’s continuing to get better and better with his maturity and his game. So, I’m proud of him.”
Kidd has been very happy with the play of Wood so far, and Wednesday was a terrific display of what the 6-10 forward can bring.
“He’s done everything that we’ve asked, he’s been great,” Kidd said of Wood. “You look at accepting his role, coming off the bench. He and Timmy (Hardaway Jr.) could easily start for us. But we felt like having those two coming off the bench is something that gives us the advantage. And C-Wood has done an incredible job.”
Briefly: Maxi Kleber (low back) and JaVale McGee (neck strain) both sat out Wednesday’s game and are listed as day-to-day. Kidd said that Kleber, who took a nasty, hip-first fall Tuesday against the Clippers, received treatment on Wednesday and will be re-evaluated before Friday’s visit by Denver . . . Davis Bertans missed the first 13 games with a right knee issue. He returned Wednesday and made his first shot, a 3-pointer . . . Also seeing their most extensive action of the season were Facu Campazzo and Frank Ntilikina. “We’re looking for them to run the team,” Kidd said pregame. “We got to get other guys involved, especially with Spencer and LD and the load they’re carrying now. We got to find other options to get them a little rest during the game than just running those guys 40 minutes every night.” Campazzo, in particular, gave the Mavericks good energy during his minutes.
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