On Thursday night Kidd found out he tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, Doncic was sidelined with a right ankle sprain and Porzingis was in the health and safety protocols.
With Kidd out, assistant coach Sean Sweeney became the Mavs’ acting head coach.
The result: Mavs 130, Rockets 106.
It was the first time Sweeney has been the acting head coach in an NBA game. And when it was over, the players celebrated the memorable occasion by dousing him with several bottles of water.
“It’s a big moment him,” said Jalen Brunson, who finished with 15 points and 10 assists. “He’s going to downplay it. That’s how Sean is, but we’re really excited for him.
“The opportunity that he had, he made sure we were ready and he did his job. We just kind of congratulated him for it and he deserved it.”
Here are our five takeaways from the 24-point victory over the Rockets.
SWEENEY WAS GREAT IN “THE BIG CHAIR”: Sweeney did extremely well in his first game as the Mavs’ acting head coach. In sliding over one spot on the bench while filling in for Kidd in what Sweeney describes as “the big chair,” the acting head coach had the Mavs rushing to play defense, rushing to get to the boards, rushing to push the pace, rushing to share the basketball. It was as if the Mavs had to catch a commercial flight and they were rushing to get to the airport so they could get through security. Everything they did Friday was exceptional and on point. That’s why Sweeney deservingly got that bottled water bath from the players after the game.
BULLOCK FOR THREE: Perhaps now those critics will be silent after they questioned the offseason acquisition of three-and-d specialist Reggie Bullock. One game after helping limit Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry to just 14 points on 5-of-24 shooting, Bullock converted a season-high five three-pointers in nine attempts against the Rockets. And four of those triples came less than six minutes into the game when the Mavs got off to a 19-8 start. Bullock finished the game with 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists in just 23 minutes, and is 15-of-31 from downtown in his five games since returning from the health and safety protocols. And the Mavs have won all five of those games.
GREEN JUST NEEDED MINUTES: All Josh Green wanted was an honest chance to get some minutes so he could show everyone what he can do on the NBA level. And now that he’s getting those minutes, he’s showing the world that he can be very effective on the NBA level. Green finished Friday’s game with a career-high 17 points in just 25 minutes. He was 6-of-7 from the field and also picked up five rebounds and a pair of steals. The Mavs passed on ex-TCU star Desmond Bane to take Green in the 2020 NBA Draft. And truth be told, the only thing that’s separating the talents of Bane and Green is that Bane is getting way more minutes than Green, whose plus/minus with the Mavs is off the charts.
SCORING BARRAGE: The Mavs let the Rockets know right away that they weren’t going to waste time deciding who was going to win this game. The Mavs took a very comfortable 43-23 lead after the first quarter. By halftime, that lead was still at 20 points (80-60). And before the third quarter was history, the Mavs’ lead had grown to 107-76. The 43 points represent the highest scoring quarter of the season for the Mavs. And those eye-popping 80 points are their highest scoring half of the season and is just the sixth time in team history they’ve scored at least 80 points in the first half. The Mavs were scoring so fast, Millennials couldn’t keep pace on their cell phone calculators.
HARDAWAY DROPPING DIMES: Tim Hardaway Jr. wasn’t just firing in a bunch of three-pointers Friday night against the Rockets. He also was dropping a bunch of dimes. In only 24 minutes, Hardaway poured in a team-high 19 points and was 5-of-10 from three-point range. More importantly, he was looking for – and finding — his teammates as he also distributed a season-high seven assists. Hardaway’s assist total was one shy of his career high of eight assists that he’s reached on four occasions. The last time Hardaway doled out eight assists was during a 136-134 overtime win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 1, 2018 when he played 47 minutes while he was a member of the New York Knicks.