They say it’s better to be lucky than good.
But what’s wrong with being lucky and good?
The Mavericks not only have been playing better as the season has started to take some form, but they are catching some breaks – none bigger than Kevin Durant missing a free throw with scant seconds remaining in what would be the Mavericks’ 96-94 win late Monday night.
They woke up on election day knowing there would be no recount. Durant had made 62 consecutive free throws, including the first of three. But his second one rattled out. And he missed the third one intentionally. The Mavericks ended up with the ball and escaped with the win.
If you haven’t noticed, there’s no room for sentences in the win-loss columns. Just numbers. It doesn’t matter that the last three wins have been by a total of six points. They count the same as that 41-point win over Memphis back in Game 2.
And after winning for the fourth time in a row, the Mavericks now are 6-3 as they start a bang-bang road trip in Orlando on Wednesday. They play at Washington Thursday.
They are playing better on top of catching a few breaks. One of the reasons they are better is Josh Green.
The third-year swingman is turning into a nice rotation player for a team that needs what he supplies off the bench – energy at the wing positions. Sort of a midsized Dwight Powell.
Green is coming off of arguably his best game as a Maverick and certainly his best one this season: 16 points and he didn’t miss a shot – 5-of-5 from the field, 2-of-2 from beyond the arc and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line.
He looks like a different player. Coach Jason Kidd called it confidence. Green agreed.
“There’s 82 games, so there’s going to be times when I’m shooting well, times when I’m going to miss,” the affable Aussie said. “But it’s just keeping the same mindset. If I’m open, shoot it.
“I shot it too many times in the offseason and I’ve put myself into too many situations now where I shouldn’t be passing up open threes. I feel comfortable shooting them. It’s not so much counting the makes. Yeah, you want to make it every time. But it’s making sure I’m taking the right shots.”
So far, he has made more than anybody else in the NBA, by percentage, that is. He’s hit 10-of-15 three-pointers.
But it’s not just his shooting. Green is slashing hard to the basket. He had two wicked dunks against the Nets. The Mavericks also were plus-11 when Green was on the floor. He’s supplying energy as proven by Green having at least one offensive rebound in each of the last six games.
He credits his Australian Rules Football background for that.
“I’m crashing every time offensively,” he said. “I think one of the biggest (things) in basketball is if I’m able to get the team a second chance to score. Basketball is about possessions, so any time you get another possession, I enjoy it.
“It also makes me kind of remember my Australia football going after rebounds, so I enjoy it.”
Green, by the way, said he was a center/half-forward when he played Australian football. “I kind of stayed out of the tackling and stuff,” he said.
It says something that Green was on the court for the final possessions of Monday’s down-to-the-wire win.
“He played late, played a lot of minutes,” Kidd said. “And he deserves those minutes. It just shows, he worked extremely hard to put himself in this position.”
And so, Green was there watching Durant step to the line needing all three free throws to tie the game.
What was going through Green’s head?
“It’s KD,” he said. “So I was like, most likely, he’s going to make the shots. I think I was kind of thinking of what we were going to do.”
As it turned out, all they had to do was get a little lucky, “dodge a couple shots,” as Kidd said.
It pairs well with being pretty darn good.
Briefly: Tim Hardaway Jr. suffered a left hip strain when he slipped and his legs split out awkwardly. His status for the upcoming trip is to be determined . . . Frank Ntilikina (ankle) has been cleared for his first action of the season. He was available against Brooklyn, but did not see action . . . Green was asked if he prefers dunking or hitting a three-pointer: “I like doing both. Hitting a three at a pivotal part of the game is fun. Dunking is fun, too. I’d say hitting threes.” Makes sense. They are worth more.
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