That rock-’em, sock-’em defense the Dallas Mavericks played during Wednesday’s 127-59 thumping of the Charlotte Hornets wasn’t overlooked by the players and the coaching staff.
The Mavs smothered the Hornets, limiting them to 27.4 percent shooting from the field and a paltry 15.8 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. It was, to use a boxing terminology, a first-round technical knockout.
And the Mavs will be looking for more (defensive) knockouts when they end preseason play Friday at 7 p.m. in Milwaukee and start regular season play on Oct. 21 in Atlanta.
“Our defense, I would say, has taken a step forward,” veteran forward Kristaps Porzingis said. “One thing is the schemes and how we guard things, but the other one is the intensity. That’s something that we’re going to keep doing at a high level if we want to be good.
“The combination of both of those, plus if we’re moving the ball offensively — everybody is getting their touches and everybody is feeling good — that brings our defensive energy up many levels. So that’s what we’re going to achieve and I feel like we’re doing that.”
Look no further than the Hornets for affirmation. Charlotte scored 17, 13, 11 and 18 points in the each quarter as the Mavs completely took the sting out of them.
“I think we were just playing solid defense,” guard Tim Hardaway Jr. said. “We were just trying to do a great job of contesting and trying to make sure that we just limit to one shot.
“I’m happy with the guys holding each other accountable and other guys going out there and competing on both ends of the floor on makes or misses. Everybody is getting back on defense, everybody is having each other’s back throughout the entire game.”
Part of having each other’s back hinges on firmly communicating with one another on the defensive end of the floor. The Mavs credit that communication with their success on defense.
“That’s huge for us — being able to tell each other where we are, where we need each other to be, coverages,” center Dwight Powell said. “We tried some different things on the fly (against Charlotte) that required us to talk at a high level and communicate for full possessions. I think we did a good job.
“That’s something that we’re going to continue to work on and develop because, like I said, defense is a huge focus for us going forward. And the place we want to go, communication is the key in being successfully there.”
So, who are the hard-line communicators behind the Mavs’ stout defense?
“Dwight and myself, I think,” Porzingis said. “Us, from the backcourt, we’ve been trying to be loud and yell out to the guards what’s coming.
“Everybody’s on the same page in coverages and how we’re guarding things. We’re out there executing and being loud. Dwight, Maxi (Kleber), Doe-Doe (Dorian Finney-Smith) and Tim, everybody’s being loud and they’re being the leaders of our defense and they’re doing a good job.”
PORZINGIS THRIVING: Hardly a day goes by when someone in the Mavs’ organization isn’t gushing about the production of Kristaps Porzingis and how enthusiastic the veteran forward has been throughout training camp.
Through the first three preseason games, Porzingis is averaging 13 points and six rebounds and shooting 58.3 percent from the field in only 19.3 minutes. More than that, he looks very active and has become even more efficient on the low blocks.
“I think when we talk about him being an All-Star, these are the things that you saw, not just spotting up for three (pointers),” coach Jason Kidd said. “He played defense, he blocked shots or changed shots, he’s a willing passer.
“I’m happy that KP’s playing at this level. We all believe that he can maintain this, and it’s fun to watch.”