Mavs VS Clippers Quote Board: Luka's Game Winner Ties The Series 2-2

Matt Galatzan

(On tonight’s game...)
“This is my 18th year as a head coach in this league. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a game where a team fought as hard to come back, hang in, go through the adversity of them tying at the end and then finding a way to win. It showed a lot of toughness, a lot of range and aggression out there. We made some adjust- ments that were really important. Our guys were able to really execute. It’s a three-game series now — any- thing can happen. We’re going to stay aggressive. [Kristaps Porzingis’] situation is his right knee — non-sur- gical knee — had soreness before the game. He’s going to get an MRI this afternoon. He has not been ruled out for game five, so we’ll hope for the best and hope he feels better.”

(On Luka Dončić’s performance...)
“This would have to rank pretty high up there. We know this kid has got a flair for the dramatic; he’s a performer as well as a great player. He’s a guy that lives for these moments and is completely fearless. At the end, it was all about finding a way to get the ball in his hands. The last shot was obviously a tremendous shot, but his effort the entire game — it’s just one of those things from top to bottom. It’s a 40-point triple-double with 17 rebounds or something like that. Just a phenomenal effort. He’s got such great heart that if he was able to feel anything close to decent, he was going to probably play today. I wasn’t going to say that publicly, but that’s what this kid is about.”

(On Luka Dončić’s ability to get switched off of Kawhi Leonard...)
“He’s such a smart player. He sees things ahead, before other people see it. That’s one of the reasons that he is so special; not only his skillset, strength, size, all that stuff, but the way he computes the game. He sees the game in 6G — it’s not 5G, it’s 6G. It’s another level beyond the way most people see it. Just a very, very special player. This game today was from another planet.”

(On if Luka Dončić’s ankle injury is behind him or if he is playing through it...)
“He responded well to treatment yesterday. They went through a lot of things this morning. He looked pretty good to me today. If you’re asking me how he’s doing, he’s doing well. We’ve got a great medical staff led by Casey Smith. These guys know what the right things are and what the wrong things are. It was the wrong thing to put Porzingis out there today; he just wasn’t right at the beginning of the game. We’ll hope for the best on his MRI and see where we are come Tuesday. In terms of Luka, guys like him, Jason Kidd, Larry Bird — these kind of guys, they’re such great competitors, there’s not much that can keep them from competing in a game like this.”

(On fighting back from a 21-point deficit...)
“Our staff did a great job of keeping the guys upbeat, positive. Kept talking about staying in the fight, fight back, two at a time. There’s no 21-point play. When you get down that many, you’ve got to work the game back. I thought [J.J.] Barea gave us some juice out there. It’s a long game; NBA games last forever. Look at this one, it lasted 53 minutes instead of 48. You’ve just got to hang in, keep playing and keep believing in each other — and that’s what our guys did. They had a great player out there that could have this kind of a night and help other guys have great nights as well. A lot of things had to go right, but these guys put them- selves in that position and I’m really proud of them but we’ve got a lot of work to do here.”

(On if Luka Dončić ever showed he needed to come out...)
“I never heard anything from Casey (Smith) about it. He gets hit a lot in games, if you haven’t noticed. He hits the floor a lot, he gets his arms raked. Frequently he has what look like lacerations on his forearms. Some- times, if it was you out there at a health club getting beat up like that, I doubt you’d even stay on the floor. This guy is tougher than that. There was nothing that was going to keep him from staying in the game. He kept telling me he was good, he was good as many minutes as we needed him. I didn’t even try to get him out before the quarter breaks — that would have been a fist fight, and I wasn’t into that today. We need him out there. We need him out there. Heading into game five, we’ve just got to do everything possible to get our guys physically and mentally ready to go. We’ve just got to keep up the fight.”

(On comparing Luka Dončić to Larry Bird...)
“I mention [Jason] Kidd and Bird — I think both of those guys are from the same fabric competitively, in terms of their will to win and their resourcefulness to impact the game in unique forms. It’s not just about putting the ball in the basket. It’s about giving teammates confidence. It’s about knowing how to channel your emo- tions. Luka has gone through a lot here. Early on, we were having a lot of discussions with officials; it was draining all of our energy and our team has grown through that stuff. We understand more and more that distractions are things that we control. I thought the second half, particularly Luka did a great job of channeling his energy toward his teammates and giving them energy. Otherwise you wear yourself out. This, today, is a game that will go down in history in some form as one of the best games a second-year player has ever played. I asked this question earlier today, when is the last time a rookie of the year was up for most im- proved the following year? I don’t think that’s ever happened. The work he has put in has been phenomenal as well and I don’t think there has been enough talk about that.”

On Luka Dončić’s ability to switch on defenders...)
“He understands the game very, very well. He reads those situations well. During timeouts, we talk about a lot of these situations and what would be best, ways to counter certain forms of showing, attempts to show and get back. We talked about that in one of the timeouts. At the end of the day, it’s about getting the ball in his hands and letting him decide the game. That’s what it’s all about. You look at the Clippers, they put the ball in Kawhi’s hands; he had it at the end of regulation, he had it at the end of overtime. You try to help cre- ate a situation where a guy can get a clean shot. It’s a player’s league, it’s a player’s game. The players — it’s all about what they do on the floor.”

(On the overtime game-winning shot...)
“I was just trying to make it. I can’t explain the emotions I had, not only when the ball goes in but when I see the whole team running toward me. That was something special, one of the best feelings I’ve ever had as a player. Just something special.”

(On whether the Clippers’ physical approach to defending Dončić motivates him...)

“Just basketball motivates me. I know they’re going to be tough with me, trying to get me out of the game. I think I’m doing a better job but I’ve still got to work on it, just ignore it, play basketball and enjoy it. It’s going to be like this every game.”

(On the incident with Montrezl Harrell and his apology pregame...)
“It was ok. No worries. There are a lot of emotions on the court, especially in the playoffs. Sometimes you say things you don’t want to say. He apologized. No problem.”

(On dealing with ankle pain during the game...)
“The guys here you don’t hear about did an amazing job with me yesterday. We were working almost the whole day. They were helping me out the whole time with whatever I needed. Obviously, it wasn’t 100 per- cent but I think it was good.”

(On going back and forth with Kawhi Leonard...)
“It’s fun when he’s missing and we’re making. Like I said before the game, it’s so hard to stop him. He’s an amazing player. I’ve got to shout out to Maxi [Kleber] and DoeDoe (Dorian Finney-Smith). They make an amazing difference. Without them I don’t think we could win the game. Kawhi is really hard to stop. I’m just really glad we got this win.”

(On if the game-winner was similar to other plays Dončić has made...)
“I would say it’s different. It’s the NBA playoffs. You have the Clippers on the other end who are an amazing. It’s tough to beat them. When I hit the shot and the whole team’s running toward me — that’s one of the best feelings ever.”

(On what it was like in timeouts and on the sideline when the team was down...)
“Honestly, it was a little deflating. I think everyone was a little deflated. We did do a good job staying togeth- er. We knew it was going to be a 48-minute game. We knew that being down 20 in this league, honestly, is kind of like being down nine or 10 points. It just depends on what perspective you have. We kept a positive prospective. Went back out there and stayed together. Wasn’t our offense at first that got us back in the game. It was defense. We put consecutive amount of stops together and we got in transition and got some easy buckets. I think they want us to play a lot of half-court offense. I think our stops and pace that we were playing with in transition helped us get momentum to get back into the game. Then, from there, we just built off of it.”

(On his experience since re-joining the Mavericks...)
“It’s been great. It’s been great. I’ve had the luxury to come back to a team that I was pretty familiar with.
So that’s always better. I wasn’t going into a brand-new situation. They treated me like one of theirs when I came last year, the Mavericks organization. So, When I came back, we just picked back where I left off. The biggest thing that stuck with me was them telling me the coaching staff, the players, to be yourself out there. Don’t try to be anybody else. You’re out there we need you to be who you are on both ends of the court. Defensively, that’s what I really locked into on my time off. Taking the intuited lock in on that end of the court because I know I can be a great defender. I wanted to change that narrative on me, ‘he can score, but he can’t defend.’ I came here with the mentality to produce in whatever role they put me in. If that was on the ball or off the ball. A lot of times right now I’m playing off the ball just trying to adapt to what the defense gives me. You know it’s been great especially when you have a game like tonight collectively as a team. A game winner, a game-winning shot we have to build off that type of game going into Game 5 because we know it’s not going to be easy.”

(On tonight’s playoff game...)
“Definitely a memorable game. We know it’s only Game 4 of a first-round playoff series, but I think this particular game is going to be a memorable game for years to come just because the circumstances. KP [Kristaps Porzingis] all the way up to game time, made a game-time decision; which now that we won, I’m kind of glad he did because we’re going need him for Game 5. But I see him in the warmups, I see how he was moving. He wasn’t moving like himself. You got Luka’s situation rolling his ankle last game him being a game-time decision. It just shows the reliance that this team has one through 15. Next man up mentality you never know like Coach Carlisle said you never know when your number is going to be called and guys just got to be ready to come in and be confident. Play, be their selves and I think that’s what we’re showing out there. A lot of guys have us counted out in this series, but we really believe we can win it and I think we’re showing that right now.”

(On how they were able to pull off the largest come-from-behind win in Mavericks playoff history...)
“We just continued to play aggressive. I think Trey Burke, and a lot of the assistants, and the guys that weren’t playing, they were on us about how long of a game we still had to cut the lead and finish the half the right way and start the second half with that same momentum that we ended the first half with. So you got to give that group that ended that first half a lot, a lot, of credit. And me being in foul trouble, Doe-Doe (Finney-Smith) having two [fouls], it just wasn’t going our way and we kept fighting.”

(On Luka Dončić capping off his performance with a buzzer beater...)
“Amen, that’s ‘The Don.’ That’s why they call him ‘Luka Magic,’ man. I ain’t got nothing else to say. You guys call him ‘Luka Magic.’ I call him ‘The Don.’”

(On how Luka Dončić was able to put together that performance despite his left ankle sprain...)


“Yeah, once they said it was just a sprain I knew in his eyes he was happy. Just being around him he had that edge, and that will that he wanted to go out there and play. And it shows, man. It shows not only to the world, but to his teammates most importantly that he’s out there competing with a sprained ankle, and basically cast wrapped up around his ankle, and he’s still out there moving and playing at his pace, and still getting triple-doubles, man.”

(On his and the team’s performance in the second half...)
“Just knowing that there two halves to a basketball game. When you don’t perform the way you want to in the first half, things aren’t going your way, it’s a whole new half [and] a whole new ballgame [in the second half]. And I just try to keep that mindset, and my teammates—especially Courtney [Lee], MKG [Kidd-Gilchrist], J.J. [Barea], and assistant coaches—they do a great job of just keeping me level-headed and continuing to stay lock and focused throughout the entire game.”

(On the confidence the team even when down big...)
“It’s not only Luka [Dončić] in that situation. It’s everybody. It’s a long game. These games are two-and-a-half hours long, and the whistle might not be going your way, and the shot might not be falling, but if you keep competing anything can happen. So we just continue to fight, and like I said—the group that ended that first half, you’ve got to give them a lot of credit because they could’ve folded, and it’s not in our DNA to do that. We’re out here trying to be resilient through the hard times and the good times.”

(On how a win like this helps build trust within the team...)
“A win like today could go a long way—it could either go north or south to be honest with you. We could get too high, and come out and not perform the way we should be doing the next game. Or we can just stay even keel, and work on the things that got us down by [21] to start in the first half. I know tomorrow we’re going to continue to look at film. We’re going to have a good walk-through practice, and watch a lot of film just to see what we can do to correct everything. But for right now we’re happy that we came out with the win.”
(On how they were able to pull this win out after being down 21 points in the first half...)

“We just kept fighting. We knew that if we get it going, they still can’t guard us. Nobody on the court can guard us when we get it going so we just had to find a little bit of energy at the beginning of the game when KP [Kristaps Porzingis] went out. Before the game started, that kind of took a little bit of energy from us so It was hard for us to get into the game but once we figured it out, we kept competing and fighting and we deserved this win tonight.

(On how Luka Dončić was able to do what he did today...)
“That is who he is, that is what he is every night for us. He has the ball in his hands making plays. As soon as we saw that he was in the lineup we knew we were going to get something special from him tonight.”

(On how Luka Dončić elevates everyone else’s play on the court...)
“We all have confidence out there. He does a great job, obviously, he has the ball a lot, so he draws a lot of attention and finds guys in good spots. But even when he is out, we play good offense with a lot of pace. We play a little different when he is off the floor, we play with a lot of pace and we feel like no matter who we have out there we can score at high clip.’”