'Not Growing On Trees': Hardaway At Home As He Leads Mavs To Win
DALLAS – Tim Hardaway Jr. smiled with ease in the Dallas Mavericks locker room in American Airlines Center. After leading the team for the second consecutive game, the seventh-year shooting guard looked comfortable and at home.
Hardaway scored 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including 3-of-6 from beyond the arc in Monday's 139-123 dominating win over the Timberwolves in front of a sold-out crowd. Hardaway also added four rebounds and one assist.
“I just love the way he plays,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He goes hard, he cares about winning, and he is one of our leaders. He has had a great year. It started off when he was willing to come off the bench, which he had never really done since he established himself in his second year in the league. But he was willing to do it.”
After being traded from the New York Knicks last year, Hardaway Jr.’s honest effort coming off the Mavs bench has paid off and often earning the starting nod.
Hardaway Jr. is having the best season of his career, emerging as the Mavs third-best scorer behind Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. His lights out three-point shooting is going to be clutch down as the Mavs have all but punched their ticket to their first NBA playoffs since 2016.
In his last five games, Hardaway Jr. is averaging 24.8 points per game and shooting 49.7 percent from beyond the arc.
“Tim is about the right stuff,” Carlisle said. “He is a culture guy, he gets onto teammates, and he cares. Guys like him aren’t growing on trees.”
Hardaway Jr. almost blushed and laughed when we asked about his coach’s comments.
"Thanks, coach, I appreciate it," Hardaway Jr. said. "I don't know what to say. I think it's just me playing my brand of basketball. I'm feeding off of these guys, feeding off of Luka and feeding off of KP. ... I am here to make everyone on this team's life easier."
The 35-23 seventh-in-the-West Mavs now hit the road for four straight games away from the American Airlines Center, beginning with a trip to San Antonio to take on the Spurs on Wednesday night.
Hopefully, Tim Hardaway Jr. will feel right at home at The Alamo as well.